Robert del Grande

“Jim Hightower was the more eloquent voice of all of us and drew us all together. It helped everything because we all concluded that we were individuals but we would be better if we all worked together as a group. I remember saying that one restaurant cannot support one purveyor. The purveyor, the grower, the farmer need multiple people so let’s share our sources… With certain cuisines, namely European ones, there was always a wine food connection. So you always had Bordeaux and Bordelaise cooking, Burgundy and Burgundian cooking. You had Chianti and Tuscan cooking. We saw that early on there should be some connection. We joined in right away to say wine needs to be part of the picture. It was just barely starting out. We all carried them and all worked with them because we had them at the dinner. It was another part of the picture that was fitting together.”

Robert del Grande came to Cafe Annie in 1981. He recalls that white tablecloth restaurants like his were all doing foreign food: French food or Italian food. Texas cuisine was always there but not at the higher-end restaurant level. Robert says the Southwest chefs took ideas from the local cantina and revved them up. For Robert it was always the enchilada. How far could he take this? He believed that the French could tell us how to do French cooking but there’s no way they can tell us how to make an enchilada—Texas chefs will be the judge of that. Click here to see his video interview.

robert del grande smiling in his chef uniform