Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Cox

Neal Cox

Executive Chef, The Houstonian Hotel

Native Texan and lifelong Houstonian Neal Cox found his way into his first restaurant kitchens while studying Criminal Justice in college. Little did he know, what he saw and learned as a server and bartender would lead him to the culinary helm of some of his own hometown's finest restaurants and earn him a growing reputation as one of the city's most talented and innovative chefs. “I was always in the kitchens watching the cooks and asking questions,” he said. “Then I would go home and try to recreate those dishes and share them with family and friends. I just couldn't get enough!” Recognizing that his interest had become a true passion, Chef Cox enrolled at the Art Institute of Houston in 1998, where he found inspiration. Before long, he was working for some of Houston's premier restaurants including Churrasco's and Americas, as well as Trevisio (where he worked under renowned Chef Alan Ashkinaze). Before long, Chef Cox himself was handed over the reins of a prominent Houston kitchen when he was named Chef at Zula. He later moved on to become the Chef of Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, where he was instrumental in earning the restaurant the coveted title of “No. 1 Steakhouse in Texas” by Texas Monthly Magazine. Given this success and growing profile, it was little surprise that this rising hometown star found his way to one of the crown jewels of the Houston culinary scene at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa. Chef Cox joined the team there as Executive Sous Chef under the property's longtime Executive Chef, Jeff Everts. When Everts was promoted to the position of Food and Beverage Director in April of 2011, the executive team at The Houstonian had no need to look outside its own kitchen to help ensure the continuation of its long tradition of culinary excellence. “I could not be happier to be in the position I am,” Chef Cox said. “As a lifelong Houstonian, I feel a great amount of pride about leading what has been not only a culinary leader here in Houston but one of the top culinary destinations in the country.” One way he does that is by drawing on a wide range of cultural culinary influences and sharing his formidable skills with Houston's society notables and the major celebrities, business and political leaders who regularly visit. “The United States is blessed with such a unique blend of cultures, and nowhere is this melting pot more evident, or more delicious, than right here in Texas.” Chef Cox, in addition to his work at The Houstonian, is very active in the community, volunteering his time and expertise to organizations including Recipe for Success, the acclaimed not-for-profit organization aimed at preventing childhood obesity and encouraging long term health.

Mr. Cox can be contacted at 713-680-2626 or ncox@houstonian.com

Coming up in August 2020...

Food & Beverage: New Technological Innovations

In the past few years, hotel food and beverage departments have experienced significant growth. Managers are realizing just how much revenue potential this sector holds, both in terms of additional revenue and as a means to enhance the guest experience. As a result, substantial investments are being made in F&B operations as a way to satisfy hotel guests but also to keep pace with the competition. Though it has been a trend for many years, the Farm-to-Table movement shows no signs of abating. Hotel chains are abandoning corporate restaurants and are instead partnering with local chefs to create locally-influenced dining options. Local, farm-sourced ingredients paired with specialty beverages or local wine also satisfies the increasing demand from Millennial travelers who are eager to travel sustainably and contribute to a positive impact. A farm-to-table F&B program also helps to support the local economy, which builds community goodwill. Also popular are "Self-Serv" and "Grab & Go" options. These concepts stem from an awareness that a guest's time is limited and if a hotel can supply them with fast, fresh, food and beverage choices, then so much the better for them. Plus, by placing these specialty kiosks in areas that might be traditionally under-utilized (the lobby, for instance), they can become popular destination locations. Of course, there are new technological innovations as well. In-room, on-screen menus allow guests to order from any restaurant on the property, and some hotels are partnering with delivery companies that make it possible for guests to order food from any restaurant in the area. Also, many hotels are implementing in-room, voice-activated devices, so ordering food via an AI-powered assistant will soon become mainstream as well. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these developments and document what some leading hotels are doing to expand this area of their business.