After a long Friday night of games and good music at The Alley Kat (another one of H-Town's Black-owned gems), we kicked off our Saturday morning with a private brunch party hosted by Chef Clyde Jiles of Mertice Hospitality Group. We sipped on Hawaiian Mimosas, the pastry and fruit tray followed. Then we got into the good stuff: crawfish boudin, super-rich & creamy grits, bacon, crab cake benedict and the best French toast I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Every dish was better than I could have imagined. We happily ate ourselves back to sleep as Clyde cleaned up the kitchen….BONUS!!! *Plies voice*
Although we were all beyond amazed with our experience, this brunch was slight work for Clyde. His journey to realizing his dream has been long, intense, and extremely rewarding. I hope you find as much inspiration in his story as I have.
Founder's Fave #2: Meet Chef Clyde Jiles
Clyde was raised by an entrepreneurial spirit; his mother is the founder of The Houston Defender, H-town’s oldest resource for Black news. It’s no surprise that his plans to own his own business started in the 8th grade.
Growing up, Clyde suffered from severe asthma. As a result, he spent a lot of his time out of school in his grandmother's house. “She was an amazing cook, and she was always making something. I was always there to watch, so she eventually started teaching me as she went along. I remember telling her when I was 10 that I wanted to own my own restaurant one day. She always reminded me of that day. Words are powerful.”
By the time Clyde graduated from high school, his attention had diverted from his dream to life’s everyday concerns. “I was making my decisions based on financial security. My father was in finance, and I knew it would pay well.” He went on to graduate from Morehouse College with a major in business administration and a focus in finance. While Clyde did still leverage his cooking skills creatively in college – as he says, “every girl loves food” – cooking wasn’t a major focus at that point in his life. After a year and a half in a finance position, Clyde realized he was miserable. “I asked myself, ‘if I were to die tomorrow, what could I be doing that would make me totally happy?’ The answer was food.”
At 23, Clyde dropped everything and set out to become the best chef he could possibly be. He enrolled in culinary school in 2013 and returned to Houston in 2017, combining his experience in finance and his culinary learnings to build and launch Mertice Hospitality Group. Mertice is his late grandmother’s middle name. “In short, it means ‘success is destined to you.’ That was the best way for me to honor her and remind myself to continue working hard.”
What makes Clyde a boss
When Clyde committed to a career in cheffing, he put everything he had into it. Culinary school required prior restaurant experience, so Clyde quit his finance job and went to work at Pappadeaux as a sauté cook. He had to pick up 2 other jobs to supplement his income in the meantime. 6 months later, the only culinary application Clyde submitted was to the Culinary Institute of America. “If you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best. CIA was the #1 school in the country at the time…I got in and made my way to NYC.” He moved on to an internship with Herbsaint in New Orleans to gain experience in fine dining. “It was trial by fire,” Clyde explained. Did he give up when a meat slicer sliced half of his thumb off? Nope. He wrapped that thing up, took a few days off and got right back to work. Surviving the fire that was Herbsaint led him to his next gig in the restaurant industry: Chelsea Piers in New York City. Clyde was always fascinated by all things food, so he knew that at some point he wanted to study the art of pastry. Once again, he sought the best school and found his new target in Paris: Le Cordon Bleu. Clyde did not speak French, but he didn’t flinch at the challenge. “You can be nervous, scared and afraid of a new thing…but it takes away from the energy you could be using to get the task done.” One year and several gracious translators later, Clyde left Paris with basic, intermediate, and superior pastry cheffing skills. He was ready to roll out his ultimate plan by 2017.
Go to Mertice Hospitality Group for…
…pretty much anything delicious. Sign up for their newsletter to stay up-to-date on what’s next. Let Mertice Hospitality Group cater your small-to-medium event with flavors inspired by Chef Jiles’ diverse training. Redefine date night with a private dining experience (serves 2-16 guests). Keep an eye out for the opening of their pastry & candy shop, Noisette Pastisserie. Catch various pop-up shops around the city. Or even bring Chef Jiles into your kitchen with some intimate cooking & baking classes.
Chef Jiles, we thank you for an unforgettable birthday experience and an inspirational story for the ages.