Meet The Chefs

Thank you to our 2016 Featured Chefs! Stay tuned for the announcement of our 2017 Featured Chefs!

Robert Irvine

With more than 25 years in the culinary profession, Chef Robert Irvine has cooked his way through Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas, in hotels and on the high seas. Robert brings his experience to Food Network as host of Restaurant: Impossible; he has been previously seen on Dinner: Impossible, Worst Cooks in America and Food Network Star’s Star Salvation, an original, exclusive Web series on In 2012, he appeared on the special Wedding: Impossible, in which he and his now-wife, Gail Kim, said “I do.”

A native of England, Robert joined the British Royal Navy at the age of 15, and his skills in the kitchen soon came to the attention of his superiors. As part of his service for the Royal Navy, Robert was selected to work aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, where the royal family and its entourages regularly dined. During his time training U.S. Navy chefs as part of a guest chef program, Robert worked in the White House kitchens, and his creations were served to high-ranking government officials. During his career, he has also had the opportunity to serve 6,000 servicemen and women on a U.S. aircraft carrier and plan the menu for a celebrity-studded after-party at the Academy Awards. Robert is the author of two cookbooks, Mission: Cook! (Harper Collins, 2007) and Impossible to Easy (Harper Collins, 2010), and he owns and operates two restaurants in South Carolina, Robert Irvine’s eat! and Robert Irvine’s nosh.

Robert was previously on The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs, where he competed against an all-star-caliber group of chefs, including Anne Burrell, Michael Chiarello, Elizabeth Falkner, Alex Guarnaschelli, Chuck Hughes, Beau MacMillan, Spike Mendelsohn, Marcus Samuelsson and Geoffrey Zakarian, for the title of The Next Iron Chef.

Paul Miller

Proprietor, Gr8 Plate Restaurant Group
With more than 20 years experience in the hospitality business, Paul Miller founded the Gr8 Plate Hospitality Group in 2010 with the opening of The Union Kitchen in Bellaire. Just five years later, with a simple philosophy to serve real food, prepared well, in a warm and comfortable atmosphere, Miller’s company has grown to six restaurants and a food truck, all in Houston; the group includes three The Union Kitchen concepts [with a fourth opening first quarter 2016], the casually upscale Paul’s Kitchen, two Jax locations, and The Rollin Kitchen food truck, featuring a Cajun inspired menu.

The Oklahoma native and his wife Doris are WSET level two certified sommeliers and both are active in the community as well as the restaurants. Paul’s interest in sports – he was the number two-rated wrestler in the US and played college football at Purdue – has him sponsoring a myriad of sports activities for kids [including his three children aged 6 months to 11 years]. Additionally, the husband and wife team participate in and donate to several non-profits for children – Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Country and Casa Esperanza.

Paul Lewis

Executive Chef, Gr8 Plate Hospitality
With a philosophy true to his country roots on a dairy farm,Chef Paul Lewis’ mantra is to source “close to the product,” and he showcases food from regional ranchers, farmers and artisan producers on his menu whenever possible. A world traveler himself, he uses the knowledge and experience gained to create a menu that is at once American, but achieves its flavors with global seasonings – a perfect marriage for the culturally diverse city of Houston.

Chef Paul first moved to the USA after receiving an opportunity to work at the Four Season Hotel Houston with well-known Chef Tim Keating. There he was integral to the hotel group’s start up team, opening locations worldwide from Dublin to Dallas and London to Hawaii. He returned to Houston in 2002 as Chef de Cuisine at Quattro in the Four Seasons. Paul joined Gr8 Plate Hospitality as Executive Chef in 2014 to open Paul’s Kitchen and oversee the group’s Union Kitchen concepts.

Prior to joining Gr8Plate Hospitality, Paul was Executive Chef at Cullen’s Upscale American Grille and Executive Chef at Osteria Mazzantini.

Lance Fegen

As a surfer who travels the world, in his words, “to immerse myself in food rich in culture with big waves and blue water,” Executive Chef Lance Fegen is an adventurer on many levels. Surfing is considered part swimming, part skiing, part sky-diving and part Russian roulette. And Executive Chef Fegen’s approach to the food offered at the establishments he co-owns, BRC Gastropub, Liberty Kitchen and Petite Sweets, is just as exhilarating as riding the wild surf.

He takes no prisoners. It’s full-throttle. He’s out to thrill restaurant patrons. And he has garnered numerous culinary awards to substantiate his place as a renegade chef extraordinaire whose menus reference his passion as a surfer and are inspired by the natural life styles of the coastal regions he loves. It’s all about fresh, it’s about local ingredients, but always with his own particular creative spin.

Executive Chef Fegen, is a graduate of the renowned Culinary Institute of America, who served as the Executive Sous-Chef of The Houstonian Hotel, opened and owned the very hip Zula restaurant in downtown Houston and went on to open and own the wildly successful Glass Wall restaurant located in the historic Heights section of Houston.
As co-owner of BRC Gastropub, Liberty Kitchen and Petite Sweets, Executive Chef Fegen brings accolades, experience and his famous energy to the table – literally. In addition, he is the devoted husband and father of two children whom he says, “amaze me with their intelligence, good nature and fun spirit every day.

What’s not to like? Well, perhaps the fact that there is only one of him – but take heart in the fact that this singular culinary guru is right here in Houston.

Monica Pope

Dubbed the “Alice Waters of the Third Coast,” German-born, Texas-reared chef Monica Pope has been revolutionizing Houston’s culinary scene since she debuted her first restaurant in 1992. Pope shares her passion for connecting local farmers and consumers with cooking classes, an online cookbook Eat Where Your Food Lives, plus Sparrow Bar + Cookshop and Beaver’s restaurants.

Pope has enjoyed national recognition in the form of a James Beard award nomination and a spot competing on the 2010 second season of Top Chef Masters on Bravo. She is the only female Texas chef to be named Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine thanks to her inventive, “eat where your food lives” cooking style.

Hailed by Travel & Leisure magazine as “one of the most ingenious restaurateurs around,” Pope first learned to cook from her Czech grandmother and went on to earn her Chef’s title from Prue Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London. After working in Europe and San Francisco, she returned home to Houston to open the Quilted Toque, which was followed by a succession of acclaimed restaurants, including Boulevard Bistrot and t’afia. Pope is the founding chair of Recipe for Success Foundation’s Chefs Advisory Board and current Board Member of the Houston-based non-profit, which is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity. She regularly appears as an RFS media spokesperson and national advocate and was invited as part of an RFS delegation to the White House for the launch of Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools initiative.

Chris Lopez

Executive Chef, BLVD. Seafood
Executive Chef Chris Lopez has worked in the restaurant business for over 15 years chasing his culinary dreams all around the United States. Now, a permanent “Islander By Choice”, Lopez has taken Galveston’s food scene by storm. As Executive Chef of Yaga’s Café and BLVD. Seafood, Lopez showcases his exquisite skills and cooking knowledge on every plate he sends out of his kitchen.

Lopez graduated from the Culinary Institute of Atlanta and upon graduation, he moved to Seattle, Washington to expand his knowledge of Pacific Seafood and Shellfish. There, he served as Executive Chef of Piatti, an upscale Italian restaurant, for two years while in Seattle before moving to Portland, Oregon to open El Gaucho, a fine dining steakhouse.

After many years in the Pacific Northwest, Lopez relocated to Galveston, Texas. While in Galveston, Lopez served as the Executive Chef of SaltWater Grill, one of the islands top seafood restaurants. He then went on to open his own fine dining restaurant, M & M, from October 19, 2005 to October 19, 2008. Following the devastation of Hurricane Ike, Chris joined the family at Yaga’s Café.

As Executive chef at Yaga’s Café, Lopez has transformed the Café’s dinning experience and cuisine into something special. He introduced pairing menus at Yaga’s Cafe that have been very successful. Over the years, he has paired four Tequila dinners, three Rum dinners, two Bourbon and one Vodka dinner. He has built up the Yaga’s Café catering business to be able to accommodate groups of all sizes from business lunches to large-scale events.

Lopez is a member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs and recently designed the menu for the Inaugural Chaine de Rotisseurs dinner at the American National Insurance Co. in Galveston. For the past three years, he has designed specialty menus for the Chaine des Rotisseurs’ Halloween Parties hosted by Yaga’s Café.

Presently, Lopez is taking on the roll of Executive Chef at BLVD. Seafood, a new, upscale restaurant in Galveston. He is excited to showcase a different variety of fresh Gulf seafood and to give Galveston more of an option as in restaurants. Chef Lopez has planted his roots here in Galveston with his Wife and four children, who support his chef endeavors. To put it simply, Lopez is happy to be here.

© 2019 Galveston Island Wine Festival