About Janelle Romano

Janelle Romano joined the Interfaith team in 2018. She is originally from the Midwest, but has lived on the East Coast and in Mexico. Janelle relocated to The Woodlands four years ago with her husband and three children and they now consider Texas home. She is a graduate of both Purdue and Southern Methodist University and enjoys spending time traveling with her family and giving back to the community.

Veggie Village Part 2 – Volunteers

Veggie Volunteers

How does the Veggie Village produce such an abundant harvest of crops? Volunteers have played a crucial part in the development of the Veggie Village since its inception. The operation of the Veggie Village gardens is led by Lori Schinsing of Interfaith. However, as Lori says, “the Veggie Village volunteers are like no other- they are a second family.” Not only were volunteers instrumental in securing the funding and development of the gardens, they continue to be the primary source of operational labor. Veggie Village relies heavily on a consistent base of committed, knowledgeable, caring volunteers. Three times per year (January, June and September) Veggie Village holds an All Hands Day where they enlist not only the help of their regular 30+ volunteers, but also the help of local National Charity League (NCL) and National Charity Roundtable (NCR) member volunteers to help remove and chop up remaining crops for compost, clear out the gardens and spread the compost.

In addition, a mutually beneficial relationship has developed between the Veggie Village gardens and local Girl and Boy Scout Troops. The Wendtwoods Learning Garden regularly hosts scout troops and exposes them to the sights, tastes, and sounds of the garden as well as the concept of food insecurity and giving back. As scouts grow, they have also become important sources of volunteers. Eagle scouts created and installed rainwater harvesting systems at both gardens in The Woodlands. A girl scout working on her gold award created a living teepee in the Wendtwoods Learning Garden complete with sensory areas where children can climb inside, read and be surrounded by nature. Additionally, scout troops have helped build raised beds to make both gardens mobility accessible.

Many of the recurring volunteers are garden advisors, including master gardeners, individuals who have been through an extensive certification process and are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of gardening-related community service each year. The master gardeners and garden advisors have been invaluable in imparting design expertise, instruction, irrigation and composting knowledge to the operations of the gardens. The garden advising team meets monthly to address issues related to the garden and also helps Veggie Village gardeners by hosting workshops and assisting with their harvest. All of the volunteers, regardless of their role seem to have one thing in common, passion. Lori Shinsing, Veggie Village Director stated,

“We are passionate about what we do, what we are growing, and what happens at Veggie Village.”

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Veggie Village gardens is that in addition to the wonderful benefit of producing healthy, organic food for our neighbors in need, the gardens provide an opportunity for many who would not otherwise be able to be of service to the community. It is truly remarkable to find a program that does so much good on so many levels. Veggie Village harvests more than just produce, it offers hope for a harvest of a better tomorrow for us all.

Yes to Youth- Montgomery County Youth Services 40th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon

YES to YOUTH- Montgomery County Youth Services celebrated 40 years of serving at-risk youth in our community with a luncheon honoring Sylvia Caracio for her 21 years of service with the organization. However, rather than resting on this impressive milestone, YES to YOUTH took the opportunity to kick off a capital campaign to fund the expansion of the BridgeWayShelter. The expansion will allow Yes to Youth to double the capacity of the children they will be able to serve and protect.

The luncheon, held in the Legacy Ballroom at The Woodlands Country Club, featured American illusionist and magician Jason Bishop who performs one of the largest touring off-broadway shows in the United States. Mr. Bishop dazzled the crowd with his wit and astounding magic tricks. Jason Bishop also shared his powerful story of a difficult early life and growing up in foster homes. He was happy to share the difference programs like Yes to Youth made in helping him dream and achieve a better future.

Shelly Givens and Debbye Jones

Jason Bishop, Dr. Lucian Rivela, Linda Freede

Susan Fordyce, Sylvia Caracio, Dan Fordyce

Jody Collins, Melanie Stella, Tricia Kingdon, Karen Bilsing, Linda Nelson

Jason Bishop performing his magic show with dog “Gizmo” and his assistant

Sylvia Caracio, Anna Jones

Zack Richmond – Richmond Realty Group, YES to YOUTH Board Member, Ellen Schmoyer – Jason Bishop Technical Director, Dannette Suding – YES to YOUTH CEO, Jason Bishop – Illusionist, Kim Hess – Jason’s Assistant, Gizmo The Dog

Dr. Lloyd Everson, Jacque Everson – YES to YOUTH Board Treasurer, Sherry Smith, Sylvia Caracio, Peg Welbes, Tim Welbes

Dannette Suding – YES to YOUTH CEO, Sylvia Caracio, Heather Washburn – District Director for U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady

YES to YOUTH – Montgomery County Youth Services has five counseling offices that offer individual, group and family mental health counseling, suicide prevention services for youth and families, street outreach for homeless teens, and healthy support programs for pregnant and parenting teens. The BridgeWayEmergency Youth Shelter provides a home to abused, neglected and sex trafficked youth. For more information about Yes to Youth visit www.sayyestoyouth.org

CASA Speaks for Kids Gala: A Million Dreams

The CASA Speaks for Kids Gala was a magical evening filled with elegance and aspirations. The aptly themed A Million Dreams gala, heldat The Woodlands Waterway Marriott on Saturday, February 9, raised funds to fulfills the dreams of children in foster care who yearn for a safe and nurturing permanent home. Huntsman Corporation was the presenting sponsor, and Lindsay Miller served as chair of the inspiring evening focused on giving hope and a future to innocent young children.

The event showcased a silent and live auction including art created by CASA children, amazing jewelry, vacations, andan adorable golden doodle puppy. More than 600 guests in attendance heard the uplifting stories shared with successful outcomes for children helped by CASA volunteers.

“This event helps ensure we can continue to recruit and train volunteers to speak up for the more than seven children entering foster care in Montgomery County each week,” stated Ann McAlpin, CASA Executive Director. It costs approximately $1500 to provide a volunteer Advocate for one abused or neglected child for one year.

The after-party was highly entertaining and featured music and a performance by The Killer Dueling Pianos.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) speak up for the best interest of children who have been removed from their home and are under the Court’s jurisdiction. CASA’s goal is to continue to provide a court-appointed volunteer to serve as Guardian ad Litem for every child in the foster care system. For the past 27 years, CASA has been training volunteers, raising awareness in the community, and working to stop the cycle of child abuse in Montgomery County.

Gwen Box and Mercedes Milstead

Lisa Munoz, Lisa Smith, Carol Watford

Anna Keller, Lindsay Miller, Cheryl Rowell, Margaret Matherne

Lindsay Miller, Anna Keller, Jerry Rowell, Lauren Rowell

Shelby Schoepf and Christine Johnson

CASA Committee Chairs- Lisa Henthorn, Pam Miller, Stephanie Jones, Lindsay Miller, Amy Fry, Karen Cahill, Misti Jeter, Tammie Manchester

For more information about CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County visit the website at www.casaspeaks4kids.com

Veggie Village- Part I – Hopeful Harvest

Is there anything better than fresh, organic, home-grown, local produce? Okay, maybe chocolate! There is just something amazing though about the flavor and satisfaction of growing and harvesting delicious, fresh food. Now imagine, how much more meaningful and rewarding that feeling would be if you were growing it to feed the 1 in 4 children in our community that is food insecure. That is the driving force behind the gardeners at the Veggie Village, where gardeners agree to donate a minimum of 75% of the crops grown back to the Interfaith Food Pantry. In actuality, about 90% of the food harvested is donated each year, which translates to nearly 4000 lbs. of fresh, organic produce for the Interfaith Food Pantry and the local senior living complexes.

The planning for the original Veggie Village community donation garden began nearly ten years ago. Sylvia Campbell, Becky Carlson, Nancy Hathaway, Peggy Hendricks, Linda Evens, andBob Dailey secured funding from grants, altruistic citizens and local civic organizations and went to the township with the concept. The township agreed, and after countless volunteer hours of planning and design, Veggie Village emerged. The goal was to not only provide organic, fresh produce using sustainable gardening practices, but to do so in a garden that would bring together young and old, able-bodied and physically challenged, and introduce a whole new generation to the joys of gardening.

Photo Courtesy Nebular Films

Women Empowering Women Featuring Rachel Hollis

Rachel Hollis, author of the New York Times bestseller “Girl Wash Your Face”, brought her inspirational message of empowerment to the sold-out crowd at the Interfaith of The Woodlands’ Women Empowering Women luncheon on February 1st at The Woodlands Resort. Donning a “love for you” t-shirt, Ms. Hollis, had the audience cheering and dancing to her message of self-acceptance and celebrating one’s God-given gifts.  

The Women Empowering Women luncheon, presented by CHI St. Luke’s Health, was the 6th Annual event hosted by the Interfaith Community Clinic, that serves as a medical home for many Montgomery County families. “The enthusiasm for this year’s speaker was remarkable, and very quickly we realized we would have the opportunity to share about the clinic to a whole new audience in addition to our current supporters,” Missy Herndon, President, and CEO of Interfaith Community Clinic. 

Ms. Hollis championed the Interfaith Community Clinic, rallying the 730 guests to contribute to support the clinic’s efforts, and led by example donating back her entire speaking fee to the cause. As a result, the event raised $325,000, shattering the previous luncheon record.  

Rachel Hollis, photo courtesy Derrick Bryant

Junior League of The Woodlands – Rene Romano, Louise Blanchard, Jenny Shirley, and Shonna Spear

WEW Committee: Darin Mittlestaedt, Georgianna Syal, Emma Simms, Missy Herndon, Anita Phillips, Michelle Kink, Dr. Sakina Davis, Jessica Kemp-Park Not Pictured: Kelly Hull, Lee Fackler

Ella and Jo Anne Johnson

Michelle Kink, Jordan Coronado, and Leslie Hogan

Presenting Sponsor CHI St. Luke’s Health with Clinic Director, Anita Phillips

Guest Singer, Cannon Brand entertains audience during coffee and desserts.

Ladies of Southwestern Energy wear T-Shirts honoring Hollis

 

The Interfaith Community Clinic, established in 1996, is a nonprofit Health Care Center providing medical and dental care as well as counseling and patient service assistance to the uninsured and underinsured in Montgomery County. The Interfaith Community Clinic staff, comprised of experienced professional medical and dental volunteers, see over 10,000 patients annually for preventative care and minor illness treatment.

St. Jude : Miracle in The Woodlands

The 2nd annual St. Jude Miracle in The Woodlands raising funds to support the mission of finding cures and saving children was an amazing evening filled with hope. Arlene Nelson and Tammy Schroder chaired the gala held this past weekend at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, and BMW of The Woodlands was the presenting sponsor for the event. The evening brought together The Woodlands community and generated support to ensure families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food- because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.  

The evening included a live and silent auction filled with fantastic prizes as well as engaging live entertainment. Guests were captivated by the many inspirational high points during the program including remarks by Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Bob Milner, Honorary Chair Jackson Cain and St. Jude patients.  

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. To learn more and join the St. Jude mission visit st.jude.org 

 

Taste of The Town Recap 2019

Taste of The Town-

The Book was happy to support The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce and several of our ad partners along with approximately 3000 guests who attended the premier culinary event of South Montgomery County, Taste of the Town. The annual event was underwritten by presenting sponsors Visit The Woodlands and Planet Ford/Planet Lincoln and included 95 booths of sweet and savory dishes.

Jenny Coyle, Sandra McGrew , Mark Zientek, and Ann Ryder

Donna Daniels and the team at Fox Travel

Mouth-watering doesn’t begin to describe the diverse sights, smells and samples of delectable desserts, pastries, appetizers, enticing entrees and drinks showcased by the 40 different featured restaurants. In addition to the amazing food, there was live entertainment and additional booths with fun giveaways and a fabulous raffle of prizes.
Make sure to mark your calendar for next year and don’t forget to stop by the following local restaurants to congratulate the best of taste winners!

• Best Appetizer: Broken Barrel
• Best Entrée: Truluck’s Seafood Steak and Crab House
• Best Dessert: Robard’s Steakhouse
• Planet Lincoln People’s Choice Award: Robard’s Steakhouse
• Best Decorated Booth: Holiday Inn Shenandoah Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse

The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce is the largest business organization in the Houston region. The Chamber is a member-based nonprofit that represents small and emerging businesses, mid-market companies and industry-leading corporations, and works with both civic and business leaders to advance South Montgomery County.

Kristan Williams, Private Events Coordinator for Goode Co.

Broken Barrel- Owner, Hilda Ysusi

Chamber Events Team- Jenny Coyle, Margie Taylor, J.J. Hollie, Steffani Konzem

Teens Making a Difference

We have all heard the criticism of Generation Z or the iGeneration… always on their phone, self-absorbed, and can’t live without technology. And while Snapchat and Instagram may be a priority for many, so is volunteering and serving our community. Hundreds of teens in our community are choosing to spend their free time serving others, developing leadership skills and creating deeper bonds with their parents and peers. What is the impressive connection that unites these young people? They are all either NCL (National Charity League) or NCR (National Charity Roundtable) members. 

National Charity League (NCL) 

NCL is an esteemed mother-daughter charitable membership organization that operates nationwide. The young ladies, in grades 7-12, participate and focus on growth and development in community service, leadership, and cultural experiences. With core values including empowering women, inspiring social awareness and compassion, honoring the mother-daughter bond, and mentorship, it is not surprising that these exceptional young women are making a difference here in The Woodlands.

pictured are Morgan McBurney, Sydney Linger and Carina Masuelli of The Woodlands Chapter, Class of 2018

NCL began in 1925 with a philanthropic organization in Los Angeles called the Charity League. The women frequently brought their daughters with them as they made layettes and assembled and delivered baskets of food to the hungry for the American Red Cross. In 1938, these mother-daughter volunteer groups began calling themselves Ticktockers. They banded together in 1947 to become the nation’s first mother-daughter charity, taking the name the National Charity League. There are currently more than 70,000 members in more than 256 chapters in 27 states. 

Madison and Deborah Barnette, Caitlin and Jena McCrann, Ann and Merritt Rice – NCL, The Magnolias – Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch, Summer Camp

The Woodlands chapter, founded in 1988, was the first local chapter and is celebrating its 30th anniversary. In the past year, which runs from April 1-March 31, the members of the six classes (2019-2024) completed over 11,533 combined [Patronesses (mothers) and Ticktockers (daughters)] hours of volunteer work in our community. In addition, NCL members contributed over $20,000 in financial and in-kind donations to the community through fundraisers including their Tea and Style Show, Under the Teacup, held in the fall. The Tea and Style Show is organized, hosted and executed by the 9th-grade members for about 250 people with the junior and seniors serving as models for the style show.
“It is wonderful to see these girls begin to take charge, track their hours and plan their schedules. The sense of accomplishment and leadership development is extraordinary.” Karla LaFitte, President, The Woodlands NCL Chapter  

Interfaith was fortunate to have one of these NCL superstars, Nora Jones, as an intern this past fall, and it is a regular occurrence to come across these amazing teens volunteering in the Interfaith pantry, the Veggie Village, or at any of our many volunteer activities such as stuffing backpacks and the toy or food drives.  

NCL chapters in and around The Woodlands that support Interfaith include Bluebonnets, Magnolias, Texas Laurels, Texas Roses, The Woodlands, and Grand Lillies. Each chapter is autonomous but they often work together and friendships develop with girls across the chapters. Ms. LaFitte emphasized that NCL is a welcoming organization, for girls with all types of interests and includes working and stay-at-home moms, and families at all economic levels.  

Kelley and Kendall Wolf, Santa, Michelle and Avery Markel at Houston Methodist Hospital, The Woodlands

According to Karla LaFitte, “NCL is a unique and special opportunity to share with my daughter. It is quality time doing something we both love – giving back to the community.”

The deadline for applications for the coming year is approaching quickly on January 15. 

National Charity Roundtable (NCR)

National Charity Roundtable (NCR) was established in 2001 as a charitable organization in The Woodlands comprised of parents and sons to serve local philanthropies. The Woodlands Chapter of The National Charity Roundtable is the founding chapter and currently has 170 families with sons in 7th through 12th grades.

Similar to National Charity League, NCR also focuses on three primary areas of development: community service or philanthropic- to identify what needs exist in the community and to assist whenever possible, educational- enhancing the social development and personal confidence of NCR members, and cultural- broadening the cultural development of the young men through exposure to a variety of cultural events. 

Although some may originally join thinking about a college application booster (which it definitely is- demonstrating a sustained voluntary commitment with an organization and learning to handle uncomfortable situations), the rewards of giving back and meaningful friendships that develop, as well as the strengthened parent-child bond and memories created can’t be understated.

Back Row: Will Jaudes, Troy Johnson, Michael Soucek, Julie Crum, Jackson Crum, Stephen White
Middle Row: Scott Myers, Grant Johnson, Ryan Soucek, Shannon Mills, Jackson Mills, Michelle White
Front Row: Luke Myers, William Jaudes, Kelly Sharer, Jason Sharer, Ryan Brunk

Members of NCR work with over 50 different philanthropies in our community including Interfaith, Operation Pets Alive, South Montgomery County Youth Services, and Angel Reach. In addition to volunteering a minimum of 20 hours per year, members also attend five events throughout the year and must be involved in a leadership role in at least one event.

“The desire to serve their community, respectful nature, and the mindfulness and appreciation of others these young men exhibit is remarkable.” Brenda Fluth, President of NCR

The demand from the community is outgrowing the ability of NCR to fulfill all of the requests for assistance. They are hopeful that another local chapter will be created in the near future so that no community need goes unmet. 

New member applications are submitted in March and NCR follows a June 1-May 31 calendar year for activities.

 

Brendan Alam, Andrew Nemeth, Max Fluth, Colby Jackson, Bennett Evans

Hayden Hughes, Jack Nolan, Ila Alam, Nancy Gamble, Brendan Alam, Troy Johnson, Grant Johnson, Jennie Hughes, Rachel Honeyman, Tyler Honeyman, Michelle Nolan, Hudson Hughes, and Gamble Reed

Long-term Benefits

Members of both NCR and NCL also develop bonds with the individuals in the community organizations where they volunteer. One young man, who joined NCR after prodding from his mother, returned home from college over Thanksgiving break and made it a priority to return to the senior living center where he previously volunteered to wish his favorite residents a Happy Thanksgiving.

Shelby Hadrick, Gracie Scrushy and Madelyn Maksimowicz – NCL, The Magnolias Chapter at Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch

A significant benefit that parents from both organizations treasure is the quality time spent shoulder to shoulder with their children. One mother remarked,“we may be having a bad day, and not necessarily on the same page, but by the time we finish working on a project together, we both feel good about what we have accomplished and have moved on from whatever was originally upsetting us.”

Joseph Croxton, Conner Judge, Richard Judge, Brad Ferguson, Annie Ferguson, Ben Ferguson, Blaise Ferguson, Dawn Croxton

NCL and NCR members are impacting The Woodlands today and for generations to come. These committed NCL and NCR volunteers are an invaluable, consistent resource for Interfaith and the community as a whole. As the NCR motto states, “no nation can remain great when duty, honor, and service die in the hearts of young men and women.” It is wonderful to see that, thanks in part to organizations like NCL and NCR the next generation in The Woodlands promises to be full of confident, well-rounded and socially aware citizens.

Click here to find out more about NCL and NCR:

https://www.nationalcharityleague.org/

http://www.ncrwoodlands.org/

Hope for the Holidays

Hope for the Holidays, a festive, Christmas-themed musical variety show benefiting Cassidy Joined for Hope, was held on December 15 at the College Park High School auditorium. The heartwarming event featured talented soloists Gary Lynn Floyd, Michelle Brown, J.R. Smith, David Troth and Alyssa Smith, as well as ballet and ballroom dancers, choir performers and improv students. The spectacular event raised over $20,000 to be used toward speaking/awareness events and preventative measures to break the silence of teenage suicide and mental illness.

Hope for the Holidays was the lifelong dream and vision of its producer, Jodie Schrier. Ms. Schrier has more than three decades of dance and theater experience, and she has always aspired to produce a show combining all of her passions. Her dream came to life with a profound purpose and meaning on the stage for Hope for the Holidays.

“Never could I have imagined that the loss of precious Cassidy would one day be the trigger to launch [this show],” shared Jodie Schrier. “And yet it makes perfect sense: ‘beauty from the ashes.’ Cassidy’s spirit lives on through the Cassidy [Joined] for Hope Foundation. Lives are impacted. Hope is spreading. I am so thankful to the Hess family for allowing me to play a small part in their journey. I am humbly reverent.”

Kim Hess had this to say: “Jodie Schrier’s years of hard work, planning, prayers, tears, heart and love came to life on stage for all of us to enjoy! She used her vision, her talents and her 20-year dream for something so much bigger than all of us—to bring hope to this community during a time when we need it the most.”

Dancers from Boni’s Dance & Performing Arts Studio Inc performed the Parade of the Toy Soldiers, a Rockette-inspired number, as well as the Waltz of the Flowers. Bonnie Schuetz, owner of Boni’s Dance & Performing Arts Studio Inc, was the program’s choreographer along with Danielle Brasher Rapp. Schuetz was also the production sponsor for the presentation.

The spectacular production was a family affair, as the Christmas Waltz was performed by Blaire Schuetz-Coakley, Taylor Schuetz and Alyssa Smith. Rae Moses and Debra Beam Moses were the Hope for the Holidays show directors, and the role of Santa was played by Jodie’s father, Clyde Domengeaux. The event co-hosts were Dori Barber and Mark Hayter. Nicole Robinson Gauthier served as the Master of Ceremonies and Valerie Labonski was the technical director.

The love, talent and heart of all of the enthusiastic performers energized the audience and left them inspired and filled with Christmas spirit. As Kim Hess stated, “Hope for the Holidays was absolutely amazing. Our children, our neighbors, our teachers, our pastors, our friends—our community—came together to shine a light in the darkness while reminding each other that there is always hope!”

 

Cassidy Joined for Hope is a nonprofit focused on teen suicide awareness and prevention through the schools and community established by the Hess Family. Their beautiful daughter, Cassidy, tragically lost her life in 2015 to suicide at 16 years of age.

TRIS: Chef Austin Simmons, Cureight-or of Experiences

Gone are the days of having to drive into Houston for your foodie fix. If you are looking for an amazing dining experience, look no further than TRIS (formerly Hubbell & Hudson) on The Waterway. The experience at TRIS is so outstanding, in fact, that it should not be reserved for special occasions, but rather become part of your regular restaurant rotation.

Chef Austin Simmons, born and raised in Texas, graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Austin. He was trained under Dean Fearing, James Beard Award winner, and later John Tesar at the Mansion on Turtle Creek. At a mere 24 years old, he was named the head chef at Hubbell & Hudson. Now, with the transition to TRIS, Chef Simmons has clearly established his culinary voice and is working on his legacy.

The restaurant, named after his daughter, is profoundly personal. Chef Simmons beams when he talks about his wife and young daughter, Tris, and his priority to carve out time for them in spite of his very demanding, chaotic schedule. Chef Simmons’ passion and purpose are driven by every personal interaction he has with a guest. “The best food comes from what you are passionate about,” stated Chef Simmons.

Food from the Soul

It is the busiest time of year in the restaurant business, and Chef Simmons is elevating the expectations of not only his food but of himself and his staff. Chef Simmons stated, “I try every day to come in 1% better than the day before.”

Reimagining favorite dishes and creating extraordinary cuisine out of ordinary ingredients are Chef Simmons’ trademarks. The food at TRIS highlights global, modern flavor, but stays true to the cuisine. Chef Simmons is not about chasing trends, but rather about the seasonality and diversity of the menu. Featuring local ingredients whenever possible, Chef Simmons has created an elevated dining experience that is approachable—not pretentious.

Clearly, his vision is working. TRIS, which opened in September, is always busy; Chef Simmons’ collaborative dinner series, CollaborEIGHT, sold out before TRIS even had a chance to advertise. What’s more, in this year’s Truffle Master competition, Chef Simmons’ grilled cheese beat out those of over 20 other chefs (including from teams headed by Michelin Star-winning chefs). Of course, Chef Simmons’ truffled grilled cheese is anything but ordinary.

It is evident by watching his attention to detail that he cooks from the soul and from the heart, and that feeling comes across on every plate. That same intention is put into every dish, from appetizer to entrée—proven by the fact that the delectable crab appetizer outsells everything on the menu 5 to 1.

The People Business

The food at TRIS is outstanding, but what really makes the experience unforgettable is the amazing service. “We are in the people business—food is merely the vehicle,” remarked Chef Simmons. In an industry where turnover is the norm, Chef Simmons is focused on recruiting and retaining top talent. He hires the right people and then invests in them.

Both the front and back of the house are highly skilled, expertly trained and put the customer first in every aspect. A key component is Chris Perry, the general manager who is constantly striving for perfection. TRIS is the only restaurant of its caliber on Open Table where the service is consistently rated as high as, or higher than, the food.

In order to keep innovating and to continue the development of his team, Chef Simmons designed a collaborative dinner series called CollaborEIGHT, which as was mentioned earlier, sold out before TRIS even began advertising. This collaborative series brings in locally and nationally acclaimed culinary talent and offers an eight-course dining experience for the guests—while also keeping things new and fresh for the chefs. The most recent CollaborEIGHT dinner featured Chef Manabu “Hori” of Kata Robata and an ingredient with which Chef Simmons has already demonstrated significant expertise: the truffle.

The diversity of the new menu at TRIS and the reasonable prices allow for a wider appeal, but the key lies in the quality and consistency of each plate. In spite of the remodel and new menu, TRIS has not raised their prices and remains remarkably affordable. The happy hour menu is composed of many lunch and dinner favorites, available for a steal.

A Truly Memorable Experience

For a truly spectacular experience, don’t miss Cureight, open only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Named one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants by Texas Monthly, Cureight is the only chef-tasting concept in North Houston. A restaurant within a restaurant, the concept features an eight-course meal, paired with wine, crafted by Chef Simmons. Cureight is even beginning to draw foodies from Houston to—wait for it—The Woodlands. The food is designed and prepared right in front of the guest, and it is Chef Simmons’ creative playground.

With TRIS and Cureight achieving consistent results, Chef Simmons is expanding to create superior culinary experiences on a larger scale. Simmons recently served over 650 individuals for a corporate event, while elevating favorite dishes and remaining true to the vision of food with soul. He hopes to be known as the leading provider of curated events and experiences.

“This is a performance-based business, and we are only as good as the last guest we waited on or meal we served,” stated Chef Simmons. It is no wonder then that many of the guests are recognized and treated as family by the team at TRIS. As Chris Perry remarked, “People come back because they know, regardless of when they come or what they order, [that] it is going to be good.”

Whether you visit TRIS for lunch, happy hour or unadvisedly wait for a special occasion, Chef Simmons and TRIS will definitely create a memorable experience that you will treasure.

Fairytale Pumpkin Pasta & Quail

  • 6 oz unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup shallots, sliced
  • ½ tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 thyme sprigs 
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 3 lb Fairytale pumpkin, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 3 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ lbs Pappardelle or Tagliatelle Pasta 
  • 8-16 small semi-boned quail (if desired) 
  • Brown butter, toasted pumpkin seeds, chervil leaves & candied ginger for garnish

Yield: 8 servings

Cook the Quail 4 minutes on each side under a press on a flat-top with rosemary and thyme. Season with salt and white pepper. 

Melt 3 ounces of butter in a large 1 ½ gallon pot, over medium-low heat.

Add the shallots, garlic, thyme (tied in a cheesecloth sachet), salt and pepper.

Sweat the vegetables for 10 to 15 minutes, do not caramelize.

Shallots should be translucent but still, have a little crunch.

Add the pumpkin, and mix well. Add the stock, and bring up to a simmer.

Simmer until the pumpkin is fully cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes,

Remove the thyme, transfer the mixture to a blender, and process, in batches.

Add the remaining butter, in portions, to the soup, while blending.

Cook pasta at al dente, add to the sauce in a saucepan and reduce the sauce into the pasta until thickens. 

Garnish with brown butter, toasted pumpkin seeds, chervil leaves & candied ginger.

 

Photography Courtesy:  Derrick Bryant Photography.
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