My Top 5: Chef Nicole Routhier of Le Colonial

Photo: Julie Soefer

Our My Top 5 feature showcases Houstonians who are shaping the culture in the city and impacting people’s lives. In turn, they share their own favorite things to do in Houston when they’re not hard at work. This week, we’re very pleased to feature Chef Nicole Routhier, Culinary Director of Le Colonial

My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston

by Chef Nicole Routhier

  1. Joshua’s Native Plants & Garden Antiques – I go here for some of the best and hard-to-find varieties of herbs and vegetables in the Heights. This small nursery has some of the best customer service, and Joshua (the amiable owner) is always there to greet you and answer questions. He is truly a treasure trove of gardening knowledge.
  2. Cockrell Butterfly Center – A must go-to place to watch and learn about the monarch’s life cycle (and other insects) is the Cockrell Butterfly Center in the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It is not only an educational and peaceful place to visit, but all those colorful butterflies flying around and perching on you make you feel like Alice in Wonderland! If you would like to attract butterflies to your own garden, be on the look-out for the center’s nectar and host plants sale in the spring and fall. Be sure to get there very early, as plants quickly sell out.
  3. Exploring Houston’s Food Scene – My home on the west side of town is just a short driving distance from many wonderful Asian markets and restaurants where I frequently shop and try out new foods. From grabbing a banh mi in Hong Kong City Mall mega-complex on Bellaire to super-fresh seafood at HMart, the Korean supermarket on Westview, to upscale Korean dining at Kuu and Straits‘ Indonesian cuisine in City Centre, I can find just about everything I need. And it’s not just the Asian cuisines: I feel lucky to live in a city with such a rich mix of culinary influences. You can spin a globe, randomly point to a country and chances are that country’s culinary heritage is represented in our area. That’s an exciting part of living in Houston. You never get bored dining out.
  4. Hermann Park Japanese Garden – I love coming to this oasis of calm to spend a moment in quiet reflection, and take in the serene beauty of the landscaped gardens of Hermann Park. It is truly spectacular in the spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming.
  5. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – As a member, I enjoy taking full advantage of their world-class art and photo exhibits. I particularly love watching retro movies shown in the Brown Auditorium downstairs. Many people don’t know that this theater shows mainly classic and foreign films that you wouldn’t get to see anywhere else.

About Nicole Routhier

Longtime Bayou City resident Nicole Routhier, award-winning cookbook author of The Foods of Vietnam and sought-after chef instructor, is recognized as one of the country’s preeminent experts in Vietnamese cuisine. Routhier has joined on at Le Colonial in the River Oaks District as Partner and Culinary Director where she is refining a menu of fine Vietnamese fare she first developed more than two decades ago at the original Le Colonial in Manhattan. She will work alongside Executive Chef Dan Nguyen to ensure quality and authenticity while introducing innovative daily specials and seasonal tasting menus.

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