Michelin-Starred Chefs Announce Plans for New Restaurants at MFAH’s Kinder Building

Salvatore Martone, Jonathan Benno and Alain Verzeroli, photo by Shannon O'Hara

THE MFAH'S NANCY and Rich Kinder Building, which first opened in November, will soon be home to two concepts by two different Michelin-starred chefs, both with the New York-based group Bastion Restaurants.


The first, Cafe Leonelli, is scheduled to open in mid-March, with traditional Italian cuisine by Jonathan Benno. Expect friendly environs and an accessible price-point, with items like house-baked focaccia, polenta and more, served buffet-style. Within, there will be an outpost of famous pastry chef Salvatore Martone's Miami-based ice cream shop Frohzen; the creations are almost as artful as the masterpieces on display throughout the rest of the building. (And, for what it's worth, in the restaurant itself: Trenton Doyle-Hancock's wall-size mural, "Color Flash for Chat and Chew, Paris Texas in Seventy-Two," depicts an abstracted forest. And Spencer Finch's Moon Dust (Apollo 17) hangs overhead.)

The second concept, Le Jardinier, a full-service restaurant from chef Alain Verzeroli, will open about a month later, with a menu inspired by "the rhythm of nature," as portrayed through seasonal, vegetable-forward plates. Al fresco dining will take place amid the Sculpture Garden.

Bastion, which is behind the successful La Table on Post Oak, sought out Houston as a destination for additional locations, citing the city's friendly culinary climate. "We have seen firsthand how this city is such a great incubator of culinary talent," said Antonio Begonja, chief operating officer. "To that end, we wanted to bring the brands we developed in New York and Miami to this culturally-diverse community so they can continue to grow."

Food

SOUTH FLORIDA-BASED Italian shoe line Concetto Limone will make its Texas debut at a cocktail reception at Valobra Master Jewelers (2150 Westheimer Rd.) on Thursday, April 29 from 5-7pm. The evening of "All Things Italian" will transport guests immediately to the coast of southern Italian as they sip on Italian wines, Aperol Spritzes, Negronis and Limoncellos while feasting on an assortment of Italian hors d'oeuvres from Houston's beloved Tony's. Invited guests will have the first glance in Texas on the Concetto Limone line and the opportunity to purchase unisex styles on Thursday evening and all day Friday at a trunk show at Valobra.

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Pastries at Cafe Leonelli

CAFE LEONELLI IS now open inside the MFAH's Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, the stunning new wing that first opened in November.

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Abbie Preston Edmonson gives a special presentation this weekend

DESPITE SOME APRIL showers, there's still plenty of fun to be had! From art-centric and Earth Day activities to family-friendly fests, check out a rundown of the weekend's best bets.

LEARN FROM AN ARTIST Tune in tonight for an hour-long talk by ceramicist and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft resident artist Abbie Preston Edmonson about her creative process. She'll give a virtual presentation about her work and a special demonstration in her studio space.

Brennen's exec chef Joey Chavez (photo by Kimberly Park)

TAKE A VIRTUAL PAINTING LESSON OR COOKING CLASS Be inspired by the great state of Texas during a virtual painting lesson hosted by Honey Art Cafe on Friday night. For only $20, stream a two-hour virtual lesson and make a series of stylized mini paintings inspired by West Texas and Big Bend National Park. Honey Art Cafe also has supply kits available for purchase for beginners or artists low on supplies.

And if painting isn't quite your speed, see what you can cook up in the kitchen! Brennen's exec chef Joey Chavez leads a "date night" cooking lesson for couples on Friday at 6:30pm. Hosted at the restaurant, the socially distanced demonstration, which costs $150, includes a reception, followed by an interactive demonstration and seated dinner.

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY! Join the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center from 10am-4pm on Saturday for a fun- and information-filled day! Explore informative booths, nature hikes, fun displays in the Discovery Room, and Earth-friendly take-home activities. Or join Discovery Green on Sunday from 12-5pm, when the park will screen a series of short films about Houston's environment, host a panel about February's freeze, and showcase a live painting demo by local artists working on murals to decorate the park.

GO ON AN OUT-OF-THIS WORLD ADVENTURE Fifty-one years ago, the Apollo 13 crew splashed down safely back on Earth after their famously harrowing mission to the moon and back. Space Center Houston is celebrating that anniversary on Saturday, hosting two livestreamed panel discussions with current NASA experts as well as Apollo-era legends.And now through May 2, local NASA and Apollo 13 fans can check out the center's new spring exhibition, titled "Apollo: When We Went to the Moon," that looks at the legacy of the Apollo era through the lens of the engineers and astronauts who actually lived the experience.

FIND FUN AT THE INTERNATIONAL KIDS FEST Traders Village hosts Kids Fest on Sunday, with games, activities, interactive shows, live music, acrobats, magicians, clowns and more. Parking is $5, but the event itself is free, sure to keep the whole family entertained from 12-4pm.

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