monicaSPEAK is a weekly blog by acclaimed Houston chef, Monica Pope, about eating and cooking where your food lives. The blog posts chronicle the ins and outs of the life of a chef.
about MONICA POPE
Named 2009’s Best Chef at the Houston Culinary Awards, Monica Pope is a 2007 James Beard Award Nominee for Best Chef: Southwest and the owner of Sparrow Bar + Cookshop and co-owner of Beaver’s in Houston. The only Texas woman to ever be named a Top 10 Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine (1996), Pope first learned to cook from her Czech grandmother and went on to earn her Chef’s title from Prue Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London.
After working in Europe and San Francisco, Pope returned home to Houston to open her first restaurant, the critically acclaimed Quilted Toque. Soon after opening her second Houston restaurant, Boulevard Bistrot, she garnered national praise from top critical publications including Travel & Leisure, which hailed her “one of the most ingenious restaurateurs around.”
Her latest venture is Sparrow Bar + Cookshop. Sparrow doesn’t aim to please, Sparrow aims to serve. Good food, that is. The kind of food you want to enjoy with good friends, because that’s what food should be about: experiences.
A whimsical and modern homage to the namesake medieval cookshops that serviced the takeaway food needs of visitors and locals, who didn’t have access to kitchens for monetary or safety reasons.
You’ll find a free-flowing and easily sharable menu at Sparrow, with an emphasis on communal spaces and warm faces.
“At Sparrow, I am going to be cooking the things I would make at home for my family and friends – fresh, unpretentious and full of flavor. I want people to stop by without a reason or reservation.”
Never one to say no to a nationally-broadcast challenge (in the late 90’s Monica competed on the Food Network’s Ready, Set, Cook), Monica Pope appears in Season 2 of Bravo TV’s competitive cooking hit, Top Chef Masters (airing in April 2010).
Monica Pope published a digital cookbook, Eat Where Your Food Lives (available at www.ChefMonicaPope.com). She is also currently working on a cooking memoir entitled Eating Hope (and Other Things I’ve Had to Stomach), an insightful, poignant and humorous look at a woman’s place in the (restaurant) kitchen.