Houston native Kate McLean started her career with stints at restaurants in Provence, France; Hawaii, Seattle, and Colorado. After returning to Houston, she worked as a sous chef at venerable fine-dining restaurant Tony’s before being promoted to executive chef in 2013. She spent four years under Houston hospitality legend Tony Vallone as the restaurant’s first female executive chef before pursuing a writing career. During this time McLean wrote for the Houston Press and worked with nonprofits like Houston Food Bank and I’ll Have What She’s Having. In 2022, McLean felt prepared to return to the kitchen and went back to Tony’s as executive chef and partner.