Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Cox

Neal Cox

Executive Chef, The Houstonian Hotel

Native Texan and lifelong Houstonian Neal Cox found his way into his first restaurant kitchens while studying Criminal Justice in college. Little did he know, what he saw and learned as a server and bartender would lead him to the culinary helm of some of his own hometown’s finest restaurants and earn him a growing reputation as one of the city’s most talented and innovative chefs. “I was always in the kitchens watching the cooks and asking questions,” he said. “Then I would go home and try to recreate those dishes and share them with family and friends. I just couldn’t get enough!” Recognizing that his interest had become a true passion, Chef Cox enrolled at the Art Institute of Houston in 1998, where he found inspiration. Before long, he was working for some of Houston’s premier restaurants including Churrasco’s and Americas, as well as Trevisio (where he worked under renowned Chef Alan Ashkinaze). Before long, Chef Cox himself was handed over the reins of a prominent Houston kitchen when he was named Chef at Zula. He later moved on to become the Chef of Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, where he was instrumental in earning the restaurant the coveted title of “No. 1 Steakhouse in Texas” by Texas Monthly Magazine. Given this success and growing profile, it was little surprise that this rising hometown star found his way to one of the crown jewels of the Houston culinary scene at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa. Chef Cox joined the team there as Executive Sous Chef under the property’s longtime Executive Chef, Jeff Everts. When Everts was promoted to the position of Food and Beverage Director in April of 2011, the executive team at The Houstonian had no need to look outside its own kitchen to help ensure the continuation of its long tradition of culinary excellence. “I could not be happier to be in the position I am,” Chef Cox said. “As a lifelong Houstonian, I feel a great amount of pride about leading what has been not only a culinary leader here in Houston but one of the top culinary destinations in the country.” One way he does that is by drawing on a wide range of cultural culinary influences and sharing his formidable skills with Houston’s society notables and the major celebrities, business and political leaders who regularly visit. “The United States is blessed with such a unique blend of cultures, and nowhere is this melting pot more evident, or more delicious, than right here in Texas.” Chef Cox, in addition to his work at The Houstonian, is very active in the community, volunteering his time and expertise to organizations including Recipe for Success, the acclaimed not-for-profit organization aimed at preventing childhood obesity and encouraging long term health.

Mr. Cox can be contacted at 713-680-2626 or ncox@houstonian.com

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.