Lowbrow Chef Plans to Launch Monthly Montrose Cookoff This Summer
Chef Will Gilchriest’s Instagram feed is filled with photos of his mouthwatering creations: chicken-fried sirloin sliders with fried green tomatoes, bacon-wrapped figs drizzled with honey, grilled watermelon with feta cheese. Until now, these delicacies could only be sampled at Gilchriest’s restaurants—Brooklyn Athletic Club, where he worked for three years; Lowbrow Bar and Grill, the Montrose hot spot where he was recently appointed executive chef; and Piggy’s, a new restaurant opening this summer on the corner of Dunlavy and West Dallas where Gilchriest is helping design the menu.
But now Gilchriest is thinking even bigger. This summer he plans to launch a series of monthly neighborhood cookoffs that will pit Montrose’s best chefs against each other in a culinary battle royale. “We’re stuck here ten hours a day, six days a week, so let’s have as much fun with this as we can,” Gilchriest explained. “If this is going to be our life, we might as well have fun.”
The Louisiana-born chef also sees the cookoffs as a way to bring the diverse Montrose community together. “At least 30 to 40 percent of our clientele at Lowbrow is from this neighborhood—I know that for a fact, because I live in this neighborhood. We’re just trying to think of new ways to get people around Montrose to come out and be part of a bigger community, to meet people they may not have met before.”
Gilchriest first became known to Houstonians as the executive chef at Brooklyn Athletic Club (BAC), where his creative, Cajun-inspired recipes attracted a devoted following. Last year, as BAC decided to focus more on their bar service, Gilchriest found himself forced to cut the menu in half. Eventually he decided to move to Lowbrow, where he’s been able to focus on what he does best: cooking. “I went where my chef skills were needed,” he explained. “I just wanted to go somewhere I could play with my food.”
Lowbrow is owned by Gary Mosley’s Creek Group, which was so impressed with Gilchriest that they asked him to help create the menu for their newest venture, Piggy’s, which will be located on the old site of the Daily Review Cafe. As its name suggests, the new restaurant will specialize in pork dishes, although Gilchriest said it will also feature locally caught seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. A big weekend brunch menu is also planned.
To celebrate the opening of Piggy’s, the first Montrose cookoff will be a pig roast, to be held in the Lowbrow parking lot sometime next month. Also on the drawing board: a smoking competition. Gilchriest hopes to entice local breweries Saint Arnold and Karbach to supply the beer for these monthly jamborees. He originally wanted to add a crawfish cook-off to the list, but couldn’t find any other chefs willing to compete against him.
“Nobody wants to challenge me at crawfish,” he said with a laugh. “I’m a Cajun boy.”
Lowbrow Bar and Grill. 1601 West Main Street. 281-501-8288. lowbrowhouston.com