Meet the fresh face bringing new buzz to Houston’s old-guard culinary landmark

There’s a glint in Vallone’s eye when he describes his “partnership” with his chef de cuisine. “In spite of all the years between us — and I’m old enough to be his grandfather — we have a friendship and a camaraderie, and I have the utmost respect for him,” says Vallone. “He works like someone who’s decades older than he is — he’s a genius.”

Waiter says he, Sulma, and Vallone “talk shop all day, every day,” and that he and Vallone bond the moment Vallone walks in the door. “We text all the time and he’s on Instagram,” Waiter says of his mentor. “We sit and drink eight to 10 espressos a day — no joke, we just keep them coming while we talk. We travel a lot together and it’s like a family trip where we just happen to be working. I feel comfortable talking him about everything; he’s been a good role model, not just in food or business, but in life.”

So in the story arc, does a young Waiter venture out on his own, much like his mentor? “At some point it’s every chef’s aspiration to own their own place,” admits Waiter, “but I’m no hurry. Mr. Vallone has taught me to evolve, and to respect the business aspect of this industry. He’s been open almost twice as long as I’ve been alive. I just want to make good food, and consistently make people happy. Just like him.” Visit CultureMap for more.

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