HOW DID YOU get where you are today? The EMS industry, quite literally, never stops. Our staff and units are called to serve our community every hour of every day; there are no weekends, holidays, or “days off.” Obviously, the demands of EMS are not for the faint of heart, and we have established a culture of service and accountability that is different than nearly every other organization. Our leadership team sets this culture by exhibiting their passion for this industry daily. Their tireless dedication makes a better experience for our staff when they come to work and for our patients and clients when they call on us to transport their loved ones.
Who do you credit? Foremost, I credit the leaders and staff of my team. Beginning with Vice President Sumi Patel, who has been with ORION for 15 years, I am extremely proud to work with, and for, everyone who wears our logo. Houston has amazing diversity in the community, and ORION celebrates that both publicly and internally, as seen in the makeup of our leadership team and staff. The people who work at ORION do so because they are committed to our mission and to providing the most professional medical care to every patient we transport. Their devotion to and support of ORION has made us one of the best EMS companies in the city.
What lessons have you learned that might enlighten/inspire? One of the most important roles that Sumi and I play is mentoring and guiding our managers, so that they can effectively lead their departments. Watching their professional growth is very rewarding, but it also has clear benefits to the business, as it allows us to expand to meet new opportunities. Over the last 15 years, we have learned that complacency is not an option. The EMS industry is vibrant, especially in Houston, which requires ORION to have an agile and dynamic business model. We are constantly evaluating our processes to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our community in ways that provide the most impact and value to them. We are tactical enough to respond to every day-to-day circumstance that arises, while, at the same time, maintaining a strategic focus on our goals for the future.
What’s new or upcoming for ORION? As we continue to fulfill our mission of service to the Houston community, we are excited to expand our reach into other hospital systems in the region. Our team and fleet are growing to ensure that we are always ready to serve the people of this community.
SOME OF THE CITY'S most influential VIPs gathered at Steak 48 in River Oaks District for the annual toast to CityBook’s “Leaders & Legends,” a recurring franchise for the publication whose past honorees have including a Tony and Grammy winner, a Nobel laureate, a member of Congress, an Olympic medalist, multiple billionaire business moguls, TV stars, artists and scientists of every sort, and the city’s most glamorous and generous socialites.
For the sixth time, Houston CityBook magazine in its fall 2023 issue featured beautiful new portraits of icons and rising stars in a variety of fields. In partnership with Steak 48 and Tilman Fertitta’s Post Oak Collection luxury auto dealers, Executive Publisher Lisa Holthouse and Editor-in-Chief Jeff Gremillion welcomed Leaders & Legends past and present and other notables to honor the ’23 class.
“The Leaders & Legends issue is the most prestigious and important feature we make all year,” says Gremillion. “And the annual party has become a top-tier social occasion, and we’re delighted.”
The editor added that the private space upstairs at the popular River Oaks steakhouse, decked out in florals in fall colors by Lexis Florist, was an ideal setting. A buttoned-up staff circulated, offering memorable bites such as fresh burrata with tomato jam, and sliced New York strip served on truffled hashbrown cubes. Wine and sophisticated cocktails were on offer; Old Fashioned’s were a favorite of the night.
Per the custom, the party is an unfussy affair in which speechifying is kept to a minimum, and luminaries are encouraged to rub elbows and enjoy each other’s company. The only break in the hobnobbing came when Gremillion took to the mic to officially toast this year’s honorees. They include record-breaking hip-hop star and Trill Burgers restaurateur Bun B; senior artist David Adickes, who at 96 is still a cultural force; renowned heart surgeon and researcher Bud Frazier, who’s invented several iterations of the artificial heart and also presided over more heart transplants than anyone on Earth; and high-impact and highly beloved philanthropist Cynthia Petrello.
Those feted by CityBook also include Alex Brennan-Martin, namesake and owner of the legendary Brennan’s of Houston; reigning James Beard Award-winning chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter of Street to Kitchen; oncologist and pioneering MD Anderson researcher Van Morris; Kristy Bradshaw, who’s currently serving in a top leadership role at both Houston Ballet and Hermann Park Conservancy; resilient sculptor Abbie Preston Edmonson, who overcame a devastating fire to establish a noted new arts studio; and real estate development titans Kendall Miller and David Weekley.
Guests included The Post Oak Collection’s Diane Caplan, Astros owner Jim Crane, meteorologist Frank Billingsley, modeling agency titan Page Parkes, artist Taft McWhorter, philanthropist Cheryl Byington, fashion designer and reality TV star Chloe Dao, and famous Houston Ballet dancers Lauren Anderson and Connor Walsh.
Jim Crane, Tony and Cynthia Petrello and Lisa Holthouse
Connor Walsh and Lauren Anderson
Robin and Alex Brennan-Martin
Tina Governale, Stephanie Paget and Peter Remington
Mario Gudmundsson and Cheryl Byington
Dr. Joe Rodgers and Sandra Burgess
Todd Ramos, Page Parkes and Frank Galvan
Bun B and Jalen Baker
Abbie Preston Edmonson
Dr. Bud Frazier and Dr. Van Morris
Jumer Adalin, Blake Taylor, Nicholas Glenn and Christopher Nodd
Danielle and Arch Rowan
Stephanie Paget, Meredith Beaumont, Tina Governale, Katherine Ross and Alison Young
Mitchell Greco, Jeff Gremillion and Brandon Weinbrenner
Vicki Luna, Katherine Ross and Jen Torres
Brian Spack, Walter Bering and Richard Hester
Tamara Washington, Alanna Murray and Alison Young
DECEMBER IS BLOWING in with new restaurants, exciting new digs for long-time favorites, and more imports joining our city. Here’s where to pull up a chair!
Cocody duck breast (photo by Mickael Zibi)
The River Oaks Shopping Center is lighting up for the holidays with restaurants galore — so far this year, newcomers include Zanti, Hudson House, the temporarily shuttered Albi, and the news of long-time La Griglia moving to its groundbreaking home to W. Dallas just around the corner. Stunning French-inspired Cocody Restaurant and Bar is the newest kid on the West Gray block: Partners of the restaurant include French chefs David Denis, previously of Le Mistral, and his brother Sylvain, veteran chef Lionel Debon, and co-owners Edith and Edwin Bosso.
Upscale Cocody — pronounced co-co-dee and named after a suburb on the Ivory Coast where Edwin Bosso grew up — is peppered with global culinary influences. Playfully presented dishes include Patagonia smoked salmon and tartare duo, Moulard duck breast with foie gras sauce, and familiar touches like Texas blackened red snapper with Madras curry and quinoa-lime salad with avocado carpaccio. Prepare to be dazzled by the opulent dining room, designed by Nina Magon Studio; architect for the project is Winn Wittman. Hundreds of crystal lights dangle from the ceiling along with a showpiece rose-gold metal bar, a take on the Mona Lisa painting, and white-clothed tables dotted between tres chic décor in shades of pink and gold.
Speaking of French, longtime Midtown-area Artisans opens Dec. 4 in a new home on Westheimer near the Galleria. Co-owners chef Jacques Fox and Jason Schickedanz collaborated with Gensler Architects to create a unique layout with an open kitchen, five private party rooms, an outdoor terrace and a porte cachere grande entrance. There’s an intimate Table du Chef for 28 guests, as well as mezzanine-level tables and banquettes. The classic French menu remains the same with luxe entrees such as pan-seared veal chop with wild-mushroom risotto, and red-wine-braised lamb shank with creamy polenta.
1891 food spread (photo by Andrew Hemingway)
Chef Jason Gould — formerly with Common Bond, Gravitas, and more, is at it again: This time, he’s a co-owner of 1891 American Eatery & Bar in the Heights. The restaurant name hails from the year the Heights community was founded, and the concept is family-friendly, much like its neighborhood. On the Houston-centric menu, expect snacks like crab fritters, Korean fried cauliflower, and soft pretzels along with smash burgers, soups, wraps and sandwiches. For mains, look for braised short ribs, Gulf fish with walnut pesto, and meaty confit duck legs to name a few.
A Tex Mex staple from DFW has joined River Oaks District shopping center, taking the shuttered Seasons 52 space. Its largest location to date, Mi Cocina’s décor reflects Mexican heritage by displaying the work of Mexican artists including a vibrant mural by Luis Sottil and furniture by Peter Glassford. The institution is known for its Mambo Taxi sangria-swirled margarita, a potent libation made with pinot noir, Sauza tequila, lime juice and brandy. But guests don’t survive on booze alone — the menu sports classics including brisket tacos, four different styles of nachos, Tex Mex combo dinners, and the house fave Rico Salad, piled with chicken fajitas, bacon, aged cheddar and tomato (served over Romaine or chopped, a.k.a. “Ricardo style”). Also popular is the Shrimp Brochette: four bacon-wrapped wild Gulf shrimp with Jack cheese, jalapeno, poblano crema and guacamole.
In celebration of the launch of Mi Cocina River Oaks District, the creative team at Alto rideshare has designed a new set of wheels, which is now on the road in H-Town! Book a safe, comfortable and clean Alto ride and one of five artful cars could show up at your doorstep. If so, your Alto car will be stocked with gift cards, goodies and other surprises as your reward.
'Tis the season for all the best cocktails! Here's a roundup of the most festively flavored libations in town.