Jean-Philippe Gaston-Rounded.pngJean-Philippe Gaston, Izakaya

Born in Paris and having spent his youth living and traveling the world to include Europe, Asia and South America, Gaston has been blessed with the experience and understanding of diverse cultures and their varied cuisine. He has staged in 3-Michelin Star restaurants in Paris and also had the opportunity to learn two-thousand-year-old Aztec recipes from the indigenous people of Oaxaca. These vast and diverse experiences have impacted him greatly. Says Gaston, "I'm passionate about bringing it all to the table every day."

With more than fifteen years in the industry, Gaston began his college career at the University of Texas, where he paid his bills by working in restaurants. He quickly developed a passion for the work and ended up enrolling in the Cordon Bleu program in Austin, setting his other coursework aside. Within a short time, he realized culinary school wasn't going to provide him with as much knowledge as he could provide for himself with his drive to learn, so he obtained his Communications degree from UT-Austin and continued his love of cooking and learning. With every chance he had to return to Europe, he utilized the opportunity to stage, working at places like Le Crillon, Les Embassadeurs and other great Michelin Star restaurants, where the passion for fine dining began. Eventually he obtained a second degree from the University of Houston's renowned Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

In 2005 he joined renowned Chef Robert Gadsby at Noe in the Omni Hotel and after Gadsby's departure, Gaston helped lead at Noe until he was recruited by Chef Gadsby to open Soma Sushi. After a year of serving as Gadsby's right-hand man, he took the helm, becoming the youngest Executive Chef of one of Houston's most important restaurants, to national acclaim.

A year later, the great Manabu Horiuchi had a tasting at Soma and loved it so much, he offered Gaston a job at Kata Robata, as his Chef de Cuisine. Shortly after joining forces, they became nationally recognized and regarded as one of the top Japanese restaurants in America. In 2007 Chef Bryan Caswell asked Gaston to become his Chef de Cuisine at REEF, where he learned the art of southern-style cooking and most importantly, how to utilize local ingredients.

After departing REEF, Gaston returned home to Paris, where he worked for a bit and then returned to consult for some of the city's best restaurants before joining forces with the great Randy Evans at Haven. Working at Haven brought Gaston's mostly seafood training full-circle in terms of product knowledge. Chef Evans has taught Gaston everything about butchering and farming to make his range of cooking one of the most extensive in the city, helping Gaston to win "Up and Coming Chef of the Year" at the 2011 Houston Culinary Awards. Gaston feels that he is privileged to have worked amongst the best - in Houston, the nation and the world - as he continues to endeavor as a chef who continually strives to be the best.

In 2012 Gaston took a culinary tour of tasting dinners in Europe this July to include London, Copenhagen and Paris, where he staged at several top-rated restaurants. He's also been invited to serve as a guest judge at the Slow Food International Cheese Competition in Bra, Italy, joining the likes of culinary legends Alain Ducasse, Paul Bocusse and Thierry Marx who have all been involved in this incredible event; the world's biggest cheese competition. It's a testament to where Gaston's journey has led him at this point in his career.