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New team at *17

Alden Hotel recently announced a new team for *17 after both the executive chef and the pastry chef departed late in 2007 to take up new projects. It will be interesting to see if *17 can continue to beat the odds despite yet another departure of a prominent chef. Alden Hotel has given their chefs a bit more freedom to experiment than most, so if Wesley Morton (new executive chef) is up to the task he should have plenty of room to show what he can do.

 

Wesley Morton has impressive pedigree, working at the CityZen and Citronelle, both highly regarded restaurants in the DC area, that should have provided an opportunity to learn from some of the best chefs in the country. Citronelle in particular occupies space in the stratosphere of establishments that put the names of their celebrity chefs before names of their restaurants – the actual name of Citronelle is in fact Michel Richard Citronelle.

 

In Houston, we have no one with such hubris (Dallas is another matter), but then again we have no one of Michel Richard caliber, either. I have never been to Citronelle, but if the experience there comes even close to that of L’atelier de Joel Robuchon, I could deal with the excess of pomp. If Wesley Morton can combine the brilliant touches of Michel Richards creations with the humility appreciated in town, *17 will continue to be one of the top restaurants in Houston.

 

 

Citronelle fare on display

 

Oddly enough I did have a chance to visit Navio, a restaurant at the ultra-posh Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay, where Wesley Morton was most recently a sous chef. The soft shell crab I had for lunch was prepared competently enough, so at the very least I know that Gulf Coast seafood will get proper treatment at *17.

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