Midwest-raised, James Beard Award-winning Chef Chris Shepherd has helped change the landscape of the Houston culinary scene since opening Underbelly in 2012. He built the restaurant to support the Houston food community and its suppliers by buying local and drawing inspiration from the people and cultures that live in the city. Thanks to Chris’ vision and passion, Underbelly was a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant, was named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit and Esquire and was named one of 38 essential restaurants in America by Eater. Chris was named one of the 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2013 and was then awarded the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest.
In 2017, Chris opened One Fifth, a five-year restaurant project that changes concepts every year. He closed Underbelly in March 2018 to convert the building into Georgia James, his take on a steakhouse. He also opened UB Preserv as his culinary interpretation of Houston’s evolution. He continues to tell the story of Houston food, but without limitations of locality and whole animal butchery. He formed Underbelly Hospitality in 2018 to preserve the ethos of Underbelly—learning about diverse cultures through food. In 2019, all three restaurants—UB Preserv, One Fifth Mediterranean and Georgia James—nabbed the No. 1 spot on Texas Monthly‘s list of the Best New Restaurants in Texas. He was a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in 2019.
Chris began his fine dining career at Brennan’s of Houston, where he spent seven years in the kitchen and then ran the wine program for two. He left Brennan’s in 2006 to open Catalan Food & Wine, which was named one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America that same year.
Chris’ foundation Southern Smoke has donated more than $1.3 million to the National MS Society, in honor of his friend who lives with multiple sclerosis, and to those in the food and beverage industry in crisis.
Lindsey Brown launched Lindsey Brown Public Relations in 2016 to utilize her knowledge and experience to promote businesses that share her business philosophy of hard work and innovation. Prior to starting her firm, she was the public relations and events director for Clumsy Butcher, a restaurant and bar collective in Houston. Prior to joining Clumsy Butcher, Brown was director of marketing and public relations for the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau for 10 years. She launched the Where the Chefs Eat Houston Culinary Tours program—winner of the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil Award in 2011—and worked with local, regional and national media to further Houston’s reputation as a tourist destination.
Brown graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in public relations. She began her career at Vollmer Public Relations in both the company’s Dallas and Houston offices. She also served as the special projects coordinator for the Houston Ballet Academy; a trained ballerina through age 18, Brown later would go on to co-found the Houston Ballet’s young professionals group, Ballet Barre, which has more than 200 members in its sixth year. She continues to support the organization as a member of the Board of Trustees and serves on the advisory board of Hermann Park Conservancy.
Kathryn Lott has worked in nonprofit administration and event production for nearly 20 years. In 2016, she co-founded Lott Entertainment, a creative project management and special events firm. She and business partner Allison Lott have produced some of Houston’s largest events, including the University of Houston’s Counter Current Festival and East End Street Fest. During her tenure as director of operations for the Society of Performing Arts, she brought such luminaries as Al Pacino, Lily Tomlin and Anthony Bourdain to the Houston stage. As marketing director for Houston Grand Opera, she founded ON, Houston Grand Opera’s young professional program, the largest of its kind in the world. She’s passionate about elevating the arts scene in Houston and founded Culture Collision to bring young patrons of Houston arts groups together. Kathryn is a past board president of the Catastrophic Theatre and a previous board member of the Fresh Arts Coalition. She joined Southern Smoke as executive director in 2017.