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Randy Evans, Executive Chef, Brennan's, Houston. TX

Randy Evans, Executive Chef, Brennan's, Houston. TX

Have you noticed that many chefs today are as mentally sharp as the knives they wield? Consider executive chef Randy Evans. Long before he took over the top toque position at Brennan's of Houston, he studied biology at Baylor University. He had the head to become a doctor like his sister, but his heart had other ideas. For those who know Evans, his decision to master a chef's knife rather than a scalpel came as no surprise.

Evans, 31, was born and raised in Texas near his grandfather's farm, and he developed a passion for the land, the people who work it and the fruits of their labor. Ask him about his favorite variety of peas, and he'll wax poetic about lady creamers, purple hulls and cream crowders. His connection to the earth manifests itself brilliantly through his six-course tasting menu, which has a decidedly Brennan's Creole slant.

Evan's connection to the farm reaps plenty of side benefits, such as his canned jellies, jams and pickled items, including Meyer Lemon Marmalade and Jalapeno Bread and Butter Pickles, which adorn menu items, including his house-made charcuterie.

Evans, who graduated from the culinary program at The Art Institute of Houston and trained under Brennan's famed chef Carl Walker, won last year's Great American Seafood Cookoff. He also was named one of three "Chefs of the Future" by Texas Monthly and " Upcoming Chef of the Year" by My Table magazine.

The Houston Chronicle's Alison Cook praised Evans for restoring Brennan's former glory. " Brennan's food these days has a profound, Southern soulfulness to it. The menu is more responsive to the seasons and to the local growers and producers than I have ever seen it," she wrote. "Even reading Evans's menu is a blast. . . I find myself wanting everything."

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