Danny Trace, Brennan's of Houston
Kitchen wizardry is a dominant gene in Danny Trace's DNA: He's as comfortable preparing four-star meals in the nation's most acclaimed restaurants as his father was in the family kitchen and his grandfather and uncle behind military stovetops.
Growing up just outside New Orleans, Danny spent countless hours with his extended family enjoying outdoor sports on land and sea: hunting, fishing, crabbing, and crawfishing. The thrill of turning the daily catch into a fresh, savory meal became Danny's passion, landing him in the culinary arts program at the esteemed Johnson & Wales University.
As Chef Danny tells it, his 'real' education came first-hand in the bustling kitchen of Commander's Palace, the acclaimed culinary landmark of the Brennan's Family of Restaurants. Displaying the same intensity for learning as in his youth, Danny perfected his skills under Chef Jamie Shannon and mentor Ella Brenna, who dubbed Chef Danny "the complete package." Taking Commander's Palace into broadcast viewers' homes, Danny was the witty on-air cohort on "Off the Menu," the restaurant's hunting and cooking show that enjoyed a popular five-year run. And outside the restaurant scene, Chef Danny expand his knowledge outdoors by interacting with farmers and producers, heading offshore with commercial fisherman, and hunting with wild game professionals.
A decade into his career, Chef Danny and his family retreated to nearby Texas to escape Hurricane Katrina -- the 21st century's most historical storm on U.S. soil, which also destroyed Danny's home in its entirety -- and the devastating aftermath. Ever loyal to the Brennan family, however, Chef Danny returned to New Orleans to take the Executive Chef reins of Café Adelaide, widely noted for its joie de vivre and cocktail culture spirit and which celebrated its post-hurricane reopening on Thanksgiving Day 2005. A new chapter in Chef Danny's impressive career with the Brennan restaurant dynasty was written in 2008, taking him to the new Commander's Palace and the On the Rocks Bar in Destin. His signature haute Creole cuisine, influenced by Louisiana roots and touches of Floribbean flair, quickly established the restaurant as a culinary paradise in Florida's vacation hot spot.
With three stellar years under his belt at Commander's in Florida, Chef Danny added a fourth restaurant in fall 2009 to his rich history with the Brennan's Family of Restaurants. He today serves as Executive Chef at Brennan's of Houston, creating traditional Creole favorites and intriguing daily specialties with a tempting twist that draw Houston diners time and again. And like those with whom he shares his passion for exceptional cooking and Southern hospitality, Danny's family ranks at the top of his priorities.