We had the good fortune of connecting with Helea Choucair Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Helea, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Quality of taste and presentation. I wished to bring unique culinary experiences directly to people in a way not possible in a restaurant. Creative independence and high quality ingredients are very important to me, something that can also be difficult to accomplish when quantity is fighting against quality. In France, attention to detail and high quality service is what you expect in a high restaurant, that’s my moto.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What makes my creations unique is my combination French techniques with different foods from around the world. Sharing my food with people excites me. When you are driven and passionate, it is easy to do what you love.

I won’t say it was easy but I don’t find it difficult. I was blessed to be able to do my job in many French establishments, and then in California and Texas before starting my private chef company. Along the way, I met so many Chefs and coworkers that I still speak with to this day, it’s just incredible the amount of connections you can build in our industry when we are driven by the same desire to cook for people and make their experience the very best, something they will remember. The restaurant or hotel industry isn’t easy and ask for a lot of time and stress, but if you do it with love, it’s a beautiful adventure

The lesson I learned is to never give up, to always give your best, to make sure your guests will experience the best of their adventure.

My brand is more than just the name, “A la française”, which means: in or according to the French manner, style, or made in France. À la Française is my culinary ethos. As I’ve mentioned before, I strongly believe in using fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, just as is done in France. This is the key to quality

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There is many spot I love here , I think we are really blessed in Houston so because there are so many great restaurants…

I will eat in Traveler’s Table for the mix of tastes and culture, le Jardinier for a gastronomic French dinner, Pier 6 Seafood for the amazing view, Impero Italiano for fresh pasta, The Toasted Coconut and MAD for little drinks and Tapas, and In Maize and el Tiempo Cantina for Mexican food. Bludorn and Pearl and Vine for steak and southern cuisine, Oporto for tasty Portuguese food, Mary’z Mediterranean Cuisine for excellent Lebanese cuisine, and Le Colonial for an amazing Vietnamese meal. For BBQ, Truth BBQ and Harlem Road Texas BBQ are both excellent. For chill brew and food joints, there are Saint Arnold’s and Truck Yard. And for outdoor brunch, Brenner’s on the Bayou.

For the cool spots to explore, I will go to all the beautiful parks downtown, Buffalo bayou, Everglade, etc. The Museum of Natural Science, Space Center Houston/NASA, the Galveston and Kemah boardwalks, Post market food, horse riding in the Woodlands, and Brazos Bend State Park for some truly beautiful Texas gulf nature.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have worked with several great people throughout my career, but my first instructor in culinary school helped to open my eyes to the rich culinary diversity the world has to offer.

Website: https://www.alafrancaise.catering/

Instagram: a_la__francaise

Facebook: À la Française, Private Chef & Catering

Image Credits
Julie Gautier-Winther

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.