One may not associate the rich culinary traditions of India with Texan cuisine, but Revolve Kitchen + Bar, in Houston’s Hotel Derek, is capitalizing on both via the talents of its new executive chef as well as the city’s standing of having the largest Indian population of any U.S. city outside of New York (as well as with its Korean population).
Roshni Gurnani took the helm of the hotel’s F&B effort in July and at press time was set to unveil an innovative new menu Sept. 5 fusing Texas and Indian cuisines.
“Some of the highlights are our Indi-Tex Lamb Burger, which incorporates my culture into Texas cuisine, and also traditional dishes that are deconstructed, such as chicken fried steak, which is a tenderloin of chicken stuffed with collard greens and served with a chipotle cream gravy and roasted jalapeno mashed potatoes—definitely things that are common to Texas, but have a twist on them and are unique and edgy,” said Gurnani, whose parents are from India. “I incorporate some of my own culture into traditional dishes that people know when coming to Houston and Texas. I want to integrate both of the cultures and present fusion, as Houston is a melting pot of cultures now and very international.”
Other menu highlights will include Tamarind BBQ Pork Ribs with roasted jalapeno mash and slaw; Popcorn Crawfish with chipotle aioli; hand-cut New York Strip with a pumpkin silk; and Fall Rooted Vegetable Salad.
Gurnani, who grew up cooking Indian cuisine on a daily basis and perfected her craft of preparing Asian cuisine during her work in the region, will stage her marquee performance in the trendy modern-lifestyle brand’s Revolve, but will also helm the F&B effort for banquets and meetings at the property.
“We’re one of the only independent hotels in Houston—it’s totally different than walking into any hotel,” she said. “The first time I walked in I was mesmerized. It’s super cool, swanky and edgy. It almost feels like you’ve walked into the future, and as a restaurant we want to be known as having that connection to the hotel.”
Always one to push herself, Gurnani has competed on culinary TV shows Hell’s Kitchen—no less than hard-to-please celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey described her as a “passionate, well-rounded chef that blended flavors magically”—and the Food Network’s Chopped, as well as counting stints at Park Hyatt Resort & Spa, The Sagamore and Thistle Hotel Marble Arch on her resume.
In keeping with its unique, contemporary stylings, the Hotel Derek and Revolve pride themselves on serving up engagement and innovation to its meetings guests, especially through F&B programming that carry themes such as Motivational, Fitness (with apropos music in the background) and Poker Night.
“The [meetings dining] space we have in the restaurant feels very much like a restaurant, so that’s unique to play with,” Gurnani said. “We can do a poolside cookout, poker night, kitschy. We’ve done a breakout where we’ve incorporated a mechanical bull in the center of it, with cured meats, jerkies and local craft beers, as well as use food trucks, to incorporate an element of doing something formal and elegant inside the meeting space, and allow them to walk outside to the food trucks—take it from fine-dining to street tacos, which shows them the range available in Houston and Hotel Derek.”