Chef Shuffles At Brennan’s and Killen’s Mean Changes At Peska, Too—Updated


Updated: See below for new information on plans for Peska. 

A string of departures has led to new executive chefs being hired for two highly acclaimed restaurants—and there are clearly changes afoot at a much younger establishment, too.

Joe Cervantez has left the executive chef position at Killen’s Steakhouse to fill the one left vacant at his old alma mater, Brennan’s of Houston. Cervantez previously worked there from 2010 through 2014. The departure of popular chef Danny Trace gave Cervantez the opportunity to return.

Joe Cervantez of Brennan's
Joe Cervantez in his Brennan’s of Houston chef whites. Photo courtesy of Brennan’s of Houston

Via a press release, proprietor Alex Brennan-Martin said, “Joe is one of the most talented and resourceful young chefs I’ve had the pleasure of working with in my years in the restaurant business, and on behalf of Carl Walker, Chef Jose Arevalo, Chef Martin Weaver and the rest of the team, we are ecstatic that Joe will be returning to the kitchen next month.”

The official start date for Cervantez is June 4. Before he takes on that role, he’s being “stained in Commander’s blue” (as the company traditionally calls it) at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. He’s spending the next few weeks there training with award-winning chef Tory McPhail.

Filling the executive chef role at Killen’s Steakhouse in Pearland is Steve Haug, who was most recently affiliated with Peska when it rebranded from “Peska Seafood Culture” to “Peska Seafood & Prime Steaks.” (“Prodigy” chef Omar Pereney moved on as part of that transition and is now with A La Carte consulting.)

Haug’s background indicates that he may be very well suited for Killen’s Steakhouse, having spent 18 years with Del Frisco’s steakhouse group, most recently at the Galleria location. In addition, he was “company chef” with Grazia Italian Kitchen, overseeing both the Clear Lake and Pearland locations. In fact, Haug’s affiliation with Peska came by way of Grazia. “Peska hired Grazia to come on and help out, so when I left Grazia, Peska no longer had me,” explained Haug. “It was a difficult situation, I really love Peska and their owners.”

Peska’s web site is a placeholder page that still includes Haug’s photo in the background slide show. No word from the restaurant as to its next move. Screenshot by Phaedra Cook

There’s no word yet on who going to step into Haug’s shoes at Peska. Houston Food Finder emailed the restaurant’s public relations representative for clarification on staffing and any new possible direction for the restaurant. We’ll update this article if we receive more information.

Updated, 5/9/2017, 4:49 p.m. According to a media relations representative, Peska is in the process of being rebranded to PesKarne, a decidedly meat-centric name that seems to cement a transition from a seafood restaurant to a steakhouse. (“Carne” means “meat” in Spanish.) Adrian Hembree of Grazia Italian Kitchen is still a consultant and had this to say about the restaurant’s future:

“We are definitely sad to see our friend, Steve, leave for this opportunity. However, we are incredibly excited for the future growth and expansion of Grazia and the relaunch of Peska as PesKarne. We are in the process of interviewing many talented chefs and looking forward to making an announcement soon.”

Look for PesKarne to roll out its new menu around the beginning of June.

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