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The Woodlands, TX /

Originally from Arlington, Texas – Executive Chef Austin Simmons took to the toque at the tender age of eight. Simmons pursued a culinary degree attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin. After graduating, he moved to Dallas in hopes of working at the famed Mansion on Turtle Creek. Turned away almost daily over the course of several weeks due to his lack of restaurant experience, his persistence finally paid off, and he was offered an internship.

It was there that Simmons found a reverence for fine dining and respect for the skills and success of master chefs. Simmons worked the chef’s table at The Mansion for three and a half years, first honing his craft under James Beard award-winning Chef Dean Fearing, and later, John Tesar.

Simmons left Dallas for The Woodlands to assist Chef John Tesar to open his eponymous restaurant, Tesar’s Modern Steak & Seafood. In 2010, Simmons quickly joined the culinary team at the Hubbell & Hudson Market & Bistro, where he was quickly promoted to executive chef position.

In 2018, he transitioned Hubbell & Hudson Bistro concept into ‘TRIS’ to elevate the dining scene in The Woodlands. Named after his beloved daughter, everyone from his team to restaurant guests is treated like family. An eight-course tasting menu concept Cureight was an extension of TRIS until pandemic, and since then has been transitioned into an at-home, off-site catering experience.

Simmons has also introduced creative culinary experiences to The Woodlands with his unique “CollaborEIGHT” dinner series that partners him with local and national culinary talent. Previous collaborations have been with James Beard nominees including Chef John Tesar, Chef Hugo Ortega, Chef Kaiser Lashkari, Chef Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi and BBQ Pitmaster Will Buckman, among others. His other culinary partnerships include a 10-year old beef program called “Heartbrand X” with Heartbrand Ranch, as well as a exotics meats ranch-to-fork program with Unique Meats.

Adamant in wanting to tell a story through his cooking, Simmons is very simplistic in delivery using light, but flavorful ingredients that allow the natural flavors of the food to express themselves.

Simmons pushed the culinary envelope in The Woodlands ever since his move down to this suburban destination, North of Houston. In 2018, Simmons was nominated by Eater Houston as “Chef of the Year,” recognized as one of CultureMap Houston’s top 10 chefs of the year and placed in the top 25 in Houston Chronicle’s top 100 restaurants, curated by James Beard award-winning journalist Alison Cook. Simmons was declared the “Truffle Master” with his truffled grilled cheese in 2018, and also earned the ‘People’s Choice Award’ for his oyster and truffle potage in 2017 at the annual Truffle Masters competition.

Simmons accolades continued in 2019 by being recognized in the top 10 of CultureMap Houston’s inaugural top 100 restaurants list, named “chef to watch” by Houstonia Magazine, and placed in the top 20 of Houston Chronicle’s top 100 restaurants, to name a few. Simmons was also selected to participate in the Butcher’s Ball Golden Cleaver competition where he took home third place against 20 other prestigious Texas chefs.

In January 2020, Houston Press named Chef Austin Simmons, ‘Best Chef’ in Houston. While 2020 was off-to-a successful start for Chef Austin, it turned into an unconventional year for everybody in the world. Chef was invited to cook at the world-renowned James Beard House in New York City in March 2020, which was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Chef Austin is currently in charge of culinary for the Woodlands Hospitality Group, overseeing the Black Walnut Cafe concept with nine locations in Texas, and The Kitchen breakfast/lunch/dinner fast-casual concept in The Woodlands.

Chef Austin is very active in North Houston community, and was recently named as a ‘Community Champion’ by The Interfaith of The Woodlands in April 2023. In addition to cooking, Simmons’ passion is to develop younger chefs to discover their own talents in the same way that he was encouraged.