Meet Chef Bryan Slaven of The Texas Gourmet

“I was born and raised a city boy in Houston, Texas and grew up with golf clubs or fishing poles in my hands from as far back as I can remember (maybe 4 or 5 years old).

Cooking came early to me with mom preparing many different types of dishes – from my Nana’s Mobile Bay crab cakes and gumbo recipes to mom’s traditional Marinara sauce. Dad always enjoyed grilling big thick-cut ribeye steaks on Sunday afternoons, a tradition at our house.

We fished fresh water ponds for bass, catfish and bluegill and began fly fishing at 11 years old -love to coax a fish into hitting a dry fly –explosive!

I was also inspired by the late Ninfa Laurenzo to incorporate chiles into my cooking. She owned the original Ninfa’s restaurant , a Houston Tex-Mex tradition located around the corner from our family owned business and that is where I experienced my first taste of true salsa made with dried chilies and fresh ingredients. At the age of 14, I began preparing my own homemade salsa.

While attending college at SHSU in Huntsville I was exposed to country cooking, gardening, and of course hunting. I observed early in my hunting experiences that many hunters didn’t know how to properly care for their game which led me to begin studying about game preparation and the food science behind it while attending college.

Texas is a treasure trove of food and wine festivals and I have had the opportunity to work some great shows and host many different types of cooking demonstrations. I love teaching people how to prepare dishes in a manner they can understand and practice in their own home.

A few years ago, a hunting and fishing friend of mine named Jim Olive, approached me about putting my cooking skills and knowledge where it could be viewed and appreciated by fellow enthusiasts around Texas. Jim photographed several covers for Texas Fish and Game Almanac over the years and introduced me to Ardia and Roy Neves from Texas Fish & Game. We talked, I submitted a sample article and the rest is history. I have been writing the “Texas Tasted” column now for over four years. I love interacting with the readers and bringing information that I have attained to those that want to learn and use it.

As a wild game chef I have had the opportunity to visit some of the finest hunting lodges throughout Texas and Louisiana and prepare gourmet meals in beautiful kitchens. I have had a chance to see places that without my cooking skills, I would not have had the good fortune to be there. It has given me the opportunity to meet some interesting people and see several varieties of game. It has also brought me to understand the true meaning of conservation, so those that come after us will be able to enjoy the same quality of fish and game that I have had the opportunity to experience. You could say that cooking has opened many doors for me.”