WACO – “A vodka, straight, please,” I say. The bartender springs into action. This is most unusual because I am on the campus of Baylor University, the nation’s largest Baptist school, noted for no booze, no smoking and – until recently — no dancing. Oh, and known for an on-going scandal about gang rapes and football players. This is the new (2014) football stadium, originally named Baylor Stadium but changed to Drayton McLane Stadium after a huge gift from the alumni who sold the Houston Astros for $680 million. Also, and this I didn’t know, the City of Waco kicked in $30 million. Wonder if College Station or Austin did the same for their universities?
For the money, Baylor has built what may be the best football stadium in America. This place is spiffy enough that there is a fancy social event being held here, at the same time a wedding rehearsal dinner is underway on another level. Maybe there is hope for the Astrodome. Ah, but what about liquor? A bartender explains that only suite renters can have booze. The big donors call in their order a week or two before the game, the booze is taken to the suite and locked up until kickoff. No other alcohol is allowed in, and to think that UT is now selling beer at sporting events. Some may call this “hypocrisy.” I call it “doing business.”
While we’re here, let’s take a look at Texas’ oldest university, which has one of the Lone Star State’s more interesting collegiate stories. Willie Nelson went here for one year, majoring in animal science and joining Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, then dropped out to become a musician and was never heard from again. Interesting note: a Baylor alumni publication put Willie on its cover, but the Baptist elders did not approve of someone who had been married three times and busted for pot four times. I believe the magazine was killed. Other students included Govs. Ann Richards, Price Daniel and Mark White (more Texas governors are from Baylor than any other school). Also, Sul Ross, Sam Houston’s son, Temple Lea Houston (Sam gave the first $5,000 to the school) and my father. I couldn’t afford $5,000 so I donated Dad’s 1926 baseball letter sweater and team photo to the school which was putting in an athletic museum. Later I inquired about the sweater and photo. They couldn’t find them.
Baylor, which opened in 1845 in the long-forgotten town of Independence, is not only the oldest continuously-operating university in Texas but one of the first higher educational institutions west of the Mississippi River. When the railroad bypassed Independence, Baylor moved to that wild town of Waco. The school was named for one of its founders, Robert E.B. Baylor, who helped write the state constitution and favored baring clergy from holding public office. It is a private school in the Big XII, so no legislative cash. Baylor’s motto, appearing on its seal, is Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana (For Church, for Texas) although Bondus Freedonia (Out on Bail) might fit better. The 1,000-acre campus sits on the banks of the Brazos River. UT-Austin sits on the banks of Waller Creek. UH-Downtown overlooks Buffalo Bayou. Its student body numbers about 16,700. Its colors are not black-and-white stripes nor jump-suit orange, but green and gold. Their song is “That Good Ol’ Baylor Line,” to the tune of “In the Good Old Summertime.” My theory is the Bears noticed at a football game with the Longhorns, the Teasips were singing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” That inspired Baylor to adopt “Summer Time.” Actually, according to sources I have copied, in 1906, a student penned humorous words to the tune of “In the Good Old Summer Time” and they became generally accepted among the student body as the school’s fight song. However, in 1931 the wife of a Baylor music professor felt the words “were neither dignified enough nor representative of the total university,” so she wrote new lyrics, which were soon adopted as the official school song.
Baylor has played Texas A&M in football 108 times, beginning in 1899. No more. However, those games produced one of the saddest stories in college football. According to my thorough research, Wikipedia, the 1926 game was in played in Waco and was Baylor’s homecoming. During halftime Baylor homecoming floats paraded around the field. When a car pulling a flatbed trailer with several female Baylor students neared the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets’ section, a cadet raced towards the car and grabbed the steering wheel. The motion caused Louise Normand to fall off the truck, injuring her and inciting a large riot. Students began using metal folding chairs and planks of wood that had been used as yard markers for weapons. Texas A&M cadet Lt. Charles Sessums was hit in the head and, although he initially appeared to recover, he died following the game. The two school presidents agreed to temporarily suspend athletic relations between the schools. They did not compete against each other in any athletic event for the next four years. Baylor and Texas A&M would not meet in football again until 1931.
For years, the Baylor football team was the doormat of the Southwest Conference. The Bears didn’t win a Southwest Conference championship for 50 years (1924-1974). That was a longer time span than between Baylor’s 1924 championship and Custer’s Last Stand. Then there is the tale of yet another apparent at-home Bear defeat. They were down three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and the Baylor fans started leaving. Then the Bears scored, and again, and once more. Departing fans listening to the game on their car radio did a U-turn to go back to the stadium, but met nose-to-nose with later leavers. There was a gigantic traffic snarl. I don’t know who won. Anyway, the Bears will get out of their current mess. Don’t leave the game early, and I’ll drink to that.
Ashby is toasting at firstname.lastname@example.org
Super Bowl Live at Discovery Green brings the fun (and food!) for football and non-football fans alike.
Super Bowl LI is coming to Discovery Green…and that means 10 days of free food, music, games and—last but not least—football. Dubbed “Super Bowl LIVE,” the festival will run from January 27 through February 5, and is expected to draw an even larger crowd than San Francisco’s 1.1 million for last year’s Bowl.
The Houston Super Bowl Host Committee is on a mission to make Super Bowl LIVE more memorable than ever, showcasing the best Houston has to offer. In addition to musical and theatrical performances, the festival will feature the Future Flight Experience, a virtual-reality ride that will include real photos of Mars from NASA’s rover missions and a 90-foot drop “back to earth”— just in time for kickoff at Super Bowl LI.
For more information, visit www.housuperbowl.com
By Tom Flynn
Photography by Erin Wiese
Vegas’ bad boy of cuisine, Chef Jeff Henderson, flies into Bush Intercontinental Airport, where I await in passenger pickup. “I’m at door C-101,” he texts. “Black guy with a bald head.” Many black gentlemen with bald heads exit C-101 and wonder why I’m waving at them before one recognizes my white SUV and red shirt, and heads my way. After quick introductions, I ask, “Can you be a little more descriptive next time? Like, I’m a tall black guy with a black chef’s shirt and designer luggage.” This is the beginning of Shop, Chop, Cook and Eat, the Chef Jeff Experience.
The 6’2” Henderson has a history. His first career in sales earned him $35,000 a week, and a 19-year sentence in a federal institution. Henderson was never a user, just a seller from the Los Angeles projects. During his extended vacation from mainstream American life, Henderson did a lot of soul searching, realized he was not a victim, took responsibility for his actions and then decided to learn how to cook. Before he finished his parole, Chef Jeff had cooked his way through L.A.’s best restaurants and landed a job in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, where he was voted Las Vegas’ Buffet Chef of the Year. He moved on to head chef at the prestigious Café Bellagio, the first African American to hold that position. Then he wrote a New York Times best-selling book about his life, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and with Steve Harvey, starred in his own Food Network TV show and became a prolific public speaker.
Now he’s riding shotgun in my SUV as we head to Central Market. This is my Christmas present from my wife, the Chef Jeff Experience. We’ll be working side by side to cook a four-course gourmet meal for six. It turns out we have a lot in common. We’re both in our 50s, have three-year olds (him, one girl; me, two identical boys), extended careers in sales (mine, legal) and public speaking, and both love cooking and our wives. Whatever earned his bad-boy reputation is long gone, and we’re looking forward to having some fun.
I love grocery stores. Between 1977 and 1984, I worked every position from sacker to store manager—it was my first career. I still study how shelves and displays are set as I walk the Montrose area H-E-B and Disco Kroger. Part of the Chef Jeff Experience is learning to navigate a store and select the best ingredients. Ten minutes into our trip, he confesses a little frustration; I know this Central Market better than he does. “No worries, Chef. I know the store in your neighborhood better than you do, and I’ve never been there,” I reply. But the big guy has a presence, and a lot of heads turn as my famous new friend selects fresh fruits and veggies, along with jumbo lump crab meat, sea bass and a rack of lamb.
He is a little distant on the ride from the store to the house, and I realize he’s thinking of the magnitude of his task. He’s walking into a kitchen he has never seen, with a guy he just met, to produce a meaningful culinary experience for six people who are showing up in a few hours with high expectations. Wow! He has little clues of the appliances, utensils or pantry goods available. I ask him why he stresses himself out like this. “I left the Café Bellagio 28 days after appearing on Oprah and became a public speaker. This project keeps me in the kitchen and keeps me cooking,” he says.
And he’s in luck. We have a large, gorgeous kitchen with every gadget and pantry item a chef could need. He becomes the general of our two-man army, requesting stations for each dish on the menu and setting up a restaurant-style assembly line in my home kitchen. My first prep task is cutting corn off the cobs. “What’s next, Chef?” “You’ve got to do every ear,” he replies. “I did.” It goes the same way with the potatoes. He looks at my work, and lets out a chuckle and a little sigh of relief. “I didn’t know you had good hands. We’ve got plenty of time.”
Chef Jeff’s photographer shows up before mine (again, we have a lot in common) and starts documenting our progress. They sneak out to the store and come back with flowers; I get a vase. “We don’t need a vase, these are for us. We’re going to add some class to these pictures,” says Chef. We break the flowers down and put a little Mason jar filled with tulips at each workstation. I’m in the middle of chopping sausage for our crab chowder, when Chef asks me to join him at the stove. “You ready, Bobby?” he asks his photographer, now turned videographer. Without warning, Chef puts his arm around my shoulders and turns from being a contemplative chef into the Food Network star. “Hey, all right y’all, Chef Jeff here with my friend Tom in his mac daddy kitchen in Houston, Texas, cooking up some amazing…” Next thing I know, I’m being interviewed about travels and culinary experiences in front of a live camera!
The chef and Food Network star becomes host, server and entertainer as our guests arrive and sit for dinner, sharing his life lessons between courses. The food is phenomenal, the experience one of a kind. And it never really ends.
You can learn more about Shop, Chop, Cook and Eat, the Chef Jeff Experience by visiting www.chefjefflive.com. But for now, check out the recipes here.
STARTER: Watermelon Cube with Minted Citrus Salad
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
12 mint leaves
½ kiwi, peeled and diced
½ peach, peeled and diced
½ Meyer lemon, peeled and segmented
8 strawberries, cored and diced
½ cup fig-infused balsamic vinegar
6–8 (1-inch) cubes chilled seedless watermelon
1. Make a simple syrup: Combine the water and sugar in a small pot and bring to a simmer while stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 8–10 minutes. Poor the syrup into an 8-ounce jar and let cool; reserve the remaining syrup for the dessert.
2. Roughly chop the mint leaves, wrap in cheesecloth and tie with butcher’s twine. Add the mint bundle to the syrup, secure with a lid and refrigerate overnight.
3. Add the diced kiwi, peaches, lemon and strawberries to a small bowl and let stand so the flavors blend.
4. Add the vinegar to a 10-inch sauté pan over low-medium and reduce by half or until the desired thickness is achieved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
5. Cut small cavities in the watermelon cubes, about ¼-inch deep, using a sharp knife or small melon-ball scoop. Add a little dollop of the fruit mixture atop each watermelon cube. Drizzle with ½ teaspoon minted simple syrup.
Plate it Perfectly: Dip a small pastry brush into the reduced balsamic and paint a stripe on each plate. Place a watermelon cube in the center of each stripe. Top with a sliver or 2 of julienned mint leaves.
Appetizer: Louisiana Lump Crab–Sausage Chowder
1 stick unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
1 pound smoked turkey or hot pork sausage, cut into ¼-inch cubes
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ yellow onion, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
½ jalapeño, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
Salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup Riesling wine
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
2 (32-ounce) containers low-sodium chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1½ cups heavy whipping cream
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, cleaned
Cajun seasoning to taste
½ cup oyster crackers for garnish
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives for garnish
2 tablespoons grated Manchego or Parmesan cheese for garnish
1. Melt 1 stick butter in a stockpot over medium. Add the sausage and continue stirring until caramelized. Add the flour and stir constantly until the flour begins to turn brown. Add the vegetables and garlic, cooking until softened. Season with a nice pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Slowly stream in the wine, clam juice and chicken stock and add the bay leaves, stirring constantly to dissolve the flour mixture. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 35–45 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
3. Add the heavy whipping cream and simmer for 12–15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, brown the remaining butter in a sauté pan over medium. Gently fold in the crabmeat and sauté until warm. Add Cajun seasoning to taste.
Plate it Perfectly: Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with oyster crackers and chives; top with big lumps of crap and freshly grated cheese.
Main Course: Herb-Encrusted Rack of Lamb
1 (6-bone) rack of lamb, trimmed and Frenched
Kosher salt and black pepper for rubbing
Cajun Seasoning for rubbing
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon freshly minced rosemary
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1. Liberally season the lamb with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning.
2. Heat the olive oil in large cast-iron skillet over medium-high and sear the lamb until all sides are golden. Remove from the heat and set aside for 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
4. Combine the breadcrumbs and rosemary in a small bowl and set aside.
5. Rub the fat cap of the lamb with the mustard and garlic, then pack with the breadcrumb mixture.
6. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 118°F–120°F, slightly past medium-rare. Let rest for 15 minutes and cut into individual chops.
Main Course: Barbecue Chip–Encrusted Chilean Sea Bass
1 (3-pound) Chilean sea bass fillet
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
8 ounces barbecue kettle chips
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the fillet into 6 pieces and remove the skin and lingering bones.
2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, sear the fillets, until the bottom sides are brown and crispy. Meanwhile, season the top sides with salt and pepper.
3. Remove from the heat and let rest on a paper towel–lined plate, crispy side up.
4. Place the chips in a food processor and grind to a breadcrumb texture. Using a pastry brush, paint the seared sides of the fillets with olive oil and top with the chip crumbs.
5. Transfer the fillets to a baking pan and bake for 12–15 minutes, or until desired doneness. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Pair it Perfectly: Cote du Rhone Blanc
Main Course: Corn and Bacon Maque Choux
½ pound thick-cut smoked bacon, diced
10 fingerling potatoes, quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and small diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more if needed
1½ tablespoons freshly minced garlic
½ yellow onion, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
½ yellow bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
6 baby portabella mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
5 ears corn on the cob, kernels removed
1 bunch Swiss chard or collard greens, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste
Parsley sprigs for garnish
1. In large sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium-high until caramelized. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook until they begin to brown.
2. Add the butter, garlic and remaining vegetables and cook for 8–10 minutes, stirring often until desired doneness is achieved. Add the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper.
Plate it Perfectly: Neatly place 1⁄3 cup maque choux in the center of each plate. Top with sea bass, then prop the lamb chop against the fish, bone pointing up. Garnish with parsley sprigs.
Dessert: Citrus Berry Parfait
½ quart heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 pint strawberries, hulled and diced
½ pint blueberries
1 orange, zested
¾ cup simple syrup (see watermelon starter recipe)
¼ Angel food cake, medium diced
8 ounces candied pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
Mint leaves for garnish
1. Place a glass or stainless-steel bowl and the carton of whipping cream in the freezer for 30 minutes.
2. Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and add the honey, sugar and cinnamon. Whip with a wire whisk, until soft peaks form.
3. Combine the fruit and zest in a medium bowl and add the simple syrup; toss gently.
Plate it Perfectly: Make parfaits by layering the fruit mixture, angel food cake, chopped nuts and whipped cream in 8-ounce mason jars. Top with whipped cream and mint leaves. Serve with long spoons.
Summer in Houston isn’t complete without a little theater. And what could be better than the “merry war” between Benedict and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, or the tragic underdog tale in Henry V, to take the edge off those steamy August nights?
Beginning on July 29, the Houston Shakespeare Festival will alternate performances of Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V over the course of two weeks, once again captivating Bayou City theatergoers at Hermann Park’s Miller Outdoor Theatre. Since 1975, audiences from all over the city have enjoyed the event, watching Shakespeare under the stars for free every summer. Funding from the University of Houston, as well as several other foundations and individuals, has allowed the HSF to continue and grow, even providing an opportunity for emerging actors, designers, directors and stage managers from the HSF Conservatory to practice their craft in a professional environment.
Don’t miss the show!
Much Ado About Nothing: July 29, 31; August 2, 4, 6
Henry V: July 30; August 3, 5, 7
For ticket and pricing information:
Everything is bigger in Texas—and in this case, that’s no exaggeration. This past Memorial Day weekend, Typhoon Texas, the largest privately owned water park in the country, opened its doors to the public. Sprawling over 25 acres in Katy, 29 miles from downtown Houston, the wonderland boasts 30 waterslides, nine amusement park rides and even a barbecue restaurant.
The most unique aspect about the water park, however, isn’t just the sheer size of it, but the innovation behind the rides themselves. “Slide boarding,” for instance, lets riders shoot at targets as they shoot down a water slide, making for a virtual video game experience; riders can even track their scores on their cell phones. That feature alone should get kids away from their Xbox and out into the sunshine!
Other attractions include the Texas Twister, which boomerangs a raft of up to six people down and up a curved wall; the Gunslinger, a seven-story freefall in a capsule; and the Typhoon, a water slide and white-water-rafting experience combined. For visitors with children too small for the heart-stopping attractions, there’s still plenty to see and do—the Gully Washer is a play area complete with sprays, slides and rope bridges.
When it’s time for a break, there are plenty of food options, from pizza to cooked-from-scratch barbecue. Rentable cabanas provide shade and a place to relax before hitting up another adrenaline-spiking ride.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.typhoontexas.com.
Driskill Hotel history is preserved in shadow boxes displayed throughout the property. The boxes contain old photos, dried flowers, shaving paraphernalia, a stopwatch, postcards and much more, all of which depict life around our state capital in the 1800s.
Welcome to Austin’s grand dame, standing tall and proud at the corner of Sixth and Brazos Street, with marble floors, stained-glass rotundas, beveled glass doors, intricate carvings on pillars and an original bank-vault door. When the hotel was built in 1886, there was an extraordinary view of the Texas state capital from the second-story lobby, but the city grew up around her, and office buildings rose up in the six blocks between the two properties. When the view was gone, there was no longer a need for the big windows; they were filled in, and the space is now a meeting room.
Touring the lobby is like taking a Texas history class. Colonel Jesse Driskill was a cattleman when he opened his pride and joy on December 20, 1886. On January 1, 1887, Governor Sul Ross held his inaugural ball in the ballroom. But sadly, a devastating drought stole Driskill’s fortune, and he was forced to close within a year of opening the hotel. His portrait hangs atop the marble staircase, and his cattle brands are replicated on the carpet in the bar.
President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson had their first date here. Later, Lady Bird broadcast her radio station from the first floor; KLBJ is still on the air today. The Driskill was a natural choice for Johnson’s campaign headquarters during his congressional races, and he watched election results from the presidential suite in 1964, as he became the most powerful man in the world.
The Driskill Grill, established in 1929, is legendary for incredible service and inventive cuisine. Recently, Executive Chef Troy Knapp and his team dug through the Austin History Center’s archives to “see where it takes us” as they revamped the menu. Expecting to find a lot of regional cuisine, he was surprised with an international menu proudly promoting imported items. Apparently, in 1929, diners weren’t interested in items they could get at home.
Today, the grill is nostalgic and timeless. The menu is seasonal and classic, offering regional American cuisine. The Foie Gras is a play on the old liver and onions. Texas beef is dry aged in house for 30 to 45 days. The Akaushi Rib Eye is served with seared foie gras, shaved black truffle and Bordelaise sauce. It simply melts off the plate and onto your palate. The chef de cuisine is heading up a research project to locate Colonel Driskill’s cattle yards. Wouldn’t it just be the finishing touch to eat beef raised on the same lands that financed the creation of this Austin landmark? We think so, too.
The property has recently undergone an $8.8 million renovation to its guest rooms, public spaces and restaurants. The renovations could not come at a better time, as 2016 marks the 130th anniversary of the hotel.
—Laurette M. Veres
For more information on how to escape, visit www.driskillhotel.com.
Dennis Slate | Family Law
It’s all about family for Dennis M. Slate, whose firm is solely dedicated to family law litigation. Slate is one of a select few attorneys board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a distinction given to less than 3 percent of Texas lawyers. His secret for success: “From years of being an Army officer, I am a thorough planner,” says Slate, who continues to win record verdicts in his field. “I also work very hard on my cases to ensure I see every angle. I do not want to be surprised in trial, and rarely am.”
Dennis M. Slate
Attorney at Law PC
DEER PARK OFFICE
112 E. Forrest Ln.
Deer Park, TX 77536
1920 Country Place Pkwy., Ste. 354
Pearland, TX 77584
Qiana Manns | Family Law
Qiana Manns is a Child Welfare Law Specialist, with offices in Houston, Texas. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from Whittier Law School in California. Mrs. Manns is passionate about issues affecting children and minorities. She is the managing attorney of Manns Law Offices PLLC, a corporation offering legal self-help solutions and mediation services. Other legal services provided include divorce, custody, CPS and child support matters. She is not only committed to fighting in court but also involved in volunteering in the community with mentoring programs such as Queendom Come, organizing CLE courses and legal advice clinics. She is known as a strong advocate in the judicial system.
Manns Law Offices, PLLC
3402 Dowling St., Ste. 207
Houston, TX 77004
Mindy Riseden | Commercial Litigation
Focusing her practice on commercial litigation, Mindy Riseden provides counsel to individuals, local businesses, and multinational organizations in disputes involving contract, partnerships, insurance brokerage, trustee/fiduciary, and real estate, among others. She helps her clients reach their goals by working diligently and persistently while being flexible as issues and disputes always evolve.
Conversational in Spanish, Mindy appreciates meeting and working with people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Serving on the Tahirih Justice Center’s Pro Bono Legal Committee, she also enjoys helping children needing a voice and guidance through the legal system. Mindy graduated from Davidson College and SMU Dedman School Law.
Crain, Caton & James
1401 McKinney St., Ste. 1700
Houston, TX 77010
Rodney Drinnon | Civil Litigation
Rodney L. Drinnon is an experienced litigator who handles complex civil litigation in both federal and state courts. He has served as the lead trial lawyer on matters, including antitrust actions, contested corporate control disputes, director and officer liability, contract disputes, employment matters, insurance-coverage questions, and oil and gas litigation. Admitted to practice in Texas and Illinois, Drinnon has successfully tried cases in more than 10 jurisdictions throughout the country.
Drinnon, a former collegiate wrestler, subscribes to the maxim “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” Whether resolving disputes for Fortune 50 companies or individuals experiencing their first foray into the litigation arena, Drinnon utilizes an aggressive, reasoned and practical approach to the practice of law, focused on serving his clients’ best interests in an economical fashion.
Rodney L. Drinnon
2000 West Loop S., Ste. 2100
Houston, TX 77027
Charles D. Brown | Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice in Texas is not a job—it is a calling. While most trial lawyers avoid taking medical malpractice and nursing home cases because they are difficult to win and expensive to work up, Charles Brown exclusively handles these cases. His firm, Brown, Wharton & Brothers, handles nursing home abuse, medical malpractice and hospital negligence cases for plaintiffs across the state. “When handling Texas medical malpractice cases, the law and the courts are stacked against you and the caps limit your recovery. But we love the challenge,” says Brown, a Fellow of the Texas Bar Association who has been nominated “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by National Trial Lawyers Association and “Top 100 Verdict” by VerdictSearch.
Charles D. Brown
Brown Wharton & Brothers
712 Main St., Ste. 800
Houston, TX 77002
Walston Bowlin, LLP | Trial Lawyers
Walston Bowlin, LLP, is a results-driven law firm dedicated to righting the wrongs suffered by injured businesses and individuals. Whether it’s a company harmed by a former employee or competitor, or a person who suffered a catastrophic injury, Cliff Walston and Josh Bowlin are dedicated to finding creative solutions to complex problems, drawing on their diverse career experiences. Walston and Bowlin realize that for those who have suffered catastrophic injuries or are engaged in a high-stakes business dispute, winning is the only option. Known for winning cases in the courtroom, it’s not surprising that Walston Bowlin has been consistently named as one of “Houston’s Top Lawyers” by H Texas and Rising Stars by Texas Super Lawyers. “Losing is never an option when our clients’ lives and businesses are at stake,” say the attorneys. “We take our jobs and commitment to our clients extremely seriously, and our clients know they can count on us.”
Walston Bowlin, LLP
800 Town & Country Blvd., Ste. 300
Houston, TX 77024
Sheridan Green | Immigration Law
For a young lawyer, Sheridan Green is remarkably accomplished. As a second year associate, he argued and won his first 5th Circuit Court of Appeals case. As a third year associate, he won his first U.S. Supreme Court case. He has been featured in the Houston Chronicle and on ACLU radio and won the 2012 Lyndon B. Johnson Human Rights Award. Excelling at both criminal and business immigration, Sheridan has won visas for everyone from doctors to engineers to professional wrestlers, has reopened dozens of impossibly old removal cases, and has acquired a knack for bringing wrongly deported former residents back to the U.S. and getting their green cards back. Sheridan graduated cum laude from South Texas College of Law.
Gonzalez Olivieri LLC
2200 Southwest Freeway, Ste. 550
Houston, TX 77098
Loren Klitsas | Personal Injury
As the managing partner of Klitsas, Vercher & Capps, PC, Loren Klitsas and his team, operating with the “we only get paid if you win mentality,” have won more than $150 million for their clients. “We love having the ability to solve problems and using our passion to help others,” says Klitsas, a graduate of South Texas College of Law. In his 23 years of service to injury victims, Klitsas has received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbard—the highest peer review rating for attorneys—and has been honored by the American Board of Trial Advocates and as a “Texas Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly magazine, among many other distinctions.
Klitsas, Vercher & Capps, PC
550 Westcott, Ste. 570
Houston, TX 77007
Crain, Caton & James | Wills, Trusts & Estates
Attorney Sarah Patel Pacheco and her team of H Texas “Top Lawyers” specialize in representing trustees, executors, beneficiaries and other individuals in complex estate, and trust and fiduciary matters, including litigation and administration. Ms. Pacheco is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a co-author of three legal treatises. She has been repeatedly recognized for her expertise, including being named as one of the Top 50 Female Attorneys in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine and Best Lawyers’ 2014 Houston Litigation – Trust & Estates “Lawyer of the Year.” Senior Associate Chasity W. Cooper is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law, and focuses on estate planning, administration and related tax issues, while Senior Associate Kathleen Tanner Beduze has been named as a Texas Super Lawyer Rising Star 2016 and focuses her practice on fiduciary, estate and trust litigation. Associate Joshua R. Flores continues to advise clients in all aspects of estate, trust and general civil litigation.
Crain, Caton & James
1401 McKinney St., Ste. 1700
Houston, TX 77010
Brian Ayson | Criminal Defense
“In addition to knowing the law and being well-prepared, you also have to be able to listen to your clients,” argues Brian Ayson, the founder of Ayson Law Firm. “We are attorneys and counselors. Fighting for your clients while helping them through a difficult time is what attorneys should strive for.”
It is Ayson’s devotion to his clients, combined with his tenacity in the courtroom, that has catapulted the firm into one of the city’s up-and-coming practices for personal injury and criminal defense. The firm handles criminal cases, ranging from DWI to murder, and personal injury matters, including automobile and 18-wheeler accidents.
For Ayson, no case is too big—or too small. “I have helped many people charged with a variety of misdemeanor and felony cases,” he says. Not surprisingly, Ayson holds a Superb rating on Avvo, and has a peer-review rating of 4.5/5 on Martindale Law Directory.
Ayson Law Firm
5100 Westheimer Rd., Ste. 200
Houston, TX 77056
Wright & Close LLP | Civil Trial and Appeals
Why Wright & Close? Our team includes board certified† lawyers with decades of experience in state and federal courts. Trials are a big part of what we do. And complementing our trial practice group is an appellate practice team including board certified† appellate lawyers, a former appellate court Justice, and several former appellate court clerks.
Want some recent examples?
Our team has won jury trials on claims involving fiduciary duties, oil and gas royalties, trade secrets, patent infringement, and insurance coverage—in some of Texas’ toughest venues. We recently won a $35M arbitration award for one client, and successfully defended against a $125M arbitration claim for another. That’s part of the reason Best Lawyers® lists us as a “Tier 1” defense firm. Our team has also won over 35 cases in state and federal appellate courts since 2012—including 14 in the Texas Supreme Court—which is why Best Lawyers® also places us in its “Tier 1” category for Appellate Practice.
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Wright & Close LLP
One Riverway, Ste. 2200
Houston, TX 77056
Jose Orihuela | Personal Injury
Communication is the secret to Jose Luis Orihuela’s successful career as an attorney specializing in personal injury law. “Always be accessible to the client,” he says. “The client doesn’t hire your secretary—they hire you.” Making sure that the client is able to reach him is the foundation of his law practice. “Whenever a client calls me, it’s usually with bad news. I find that by making myself available, it eases their stress and reassures them that the wheels are in motion.”
Not surprisingly, Orihuela, a Houston native, established his firm, Orihuela & Associates, out of a desire to assist others in need. “I became an attorney to help people. I primarily focus on people in the Latino community who are unaware of their rights. I am known to take the odd job every once in a while in order to help someone who’s in a tough spot,” says Orihuela, who’s fluent in both English and Spanish.
Although Orihuela & Associates is a boutique firm, with a small, caring staff, the lawyers don’t shy from routinely taking on multimillion-dollar cases and large companies in the courtroom. “My job is to zealously represent my client. From day one, I prepare as if each of my cases will be going to trial. It lets the other side know that we are willing to go the distance, and that we will not be settling for pennies on the dollar. ”
Orihuela works closely with victims and their families of car wrecks, truck wrecks, workplace accidents, refinery accidents, premise defects and other catastrophic injuries. He prides himself on not only being supportive and a good listener, but on fighting for the rights of his every client. Orihuela is known for resolving cases as quickly and efficiently as possible, and never pushing anything—no matter how small it may seem to others—to the side.
There’s no shortage of clients who will attest to these facts: “He treated me like a person—not just another file.” “Jose is tremendous. He gave us 100 percent from day one. He was there in a time of need. He’s compassionate and kind; my wife and I would recommend him in a heart beat.” “He helped me every step of the way—helped with doctors, always answered my phone calls and helped resolve my case in a fair manner.” “He has provided a level of service that goes above and beyond most other law firms.”
After receiving his bachelor’s in economics from Trinity University in San Antonio, Orihuela was awarded a full scholarship to Northern Illinois College of Law. Today, his thriving practice continues to grow at a rapid pace. This is a direct result of Orihuela taking so much pride in being thorough and paying attention to every detail so his clients don’t have to. “Knowing I’m doing the job right is my favorite part of being an attorney. For me, it’s about making sure no stone is left unturned. At the end of the day, that is what will get you the best results.”
ORIHUELA & ASSOCIATES, LLC
1350 Nasa Parkway, Ste. 214
Houston, TX 77058
Charles Argento | Personal Injury
When you or a family member have suffered an injury that requires legal action, you want to be sure that your attorney will fight for your rights—and most importantly, get you the results you deserve. That’s precisely the focus at Charles J. Argento & Associates, which deals with all matters of personal injuries and accidents. At the helm of the firm, with nearly three decades of experience in the field, Charles J. Argento is known for providing aggressive, cost-efficient and responsive representation.
“I wanted to make a difference in the world and help people,” says Mr. Argento, of how he came to be one of Houston’s most sought-after personal injury attorneys. After graduating from State University of New York at Buffalo, he earned his juris doctorate from South Texas College of Law.
Mr. Argento got his start in law by working directly with insurance companies for a wide range of personal injury cases. “During my first 10 years of practice, I represented people who were sued, so I learned the ins and outs of insurance companies: what their thinking was, how they evaluated a case, and what a case was worth,” he recalls. This experience ended up being deeply instrumental to Mr. Argento’s success today—and his ace in the hole. “I now have inside knowledge on what makes these companies pay, what information they need, and also the things that they’re looking for to prevent you from getting any kind of money. It is just invaluable in trying to get people the maximum money they deserve.”
At Charles J. Argento & Associates, Mr. Argento serves as the lead counsel, and together with his staff of highly trained, efficient bilingual paralegals, secretaries and clerks, works on cases involving car and truck accidents, defective products, medical device lawsuits, medical malpractice, premises liability, drunk driving, wrongful death, workers’ compensation and more. Their goal, as a firm, is to provide each and every client with the highest quality of legal services available.
Today, the accolades Mr. Argento receives from clients, colleagues and the press are mounting. He holds two of the most prestigious ratings: “AV” by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory—the highest rating worldwide for legal ability and ethical standard, awarded to less than 5 percent of attorneys in the U.S.—for the past 16 consecutive years, and 10/10 by Avvo, reflecting his superb professional conduct and experience in the legal community, and providing an unmatched level of transparency, information and guidance.
On top of those honors, Mr. Argento was distinguished as the “National Top 100 Trial Attorneys” in the country; the “10 Best” in client satisfaction by the American Institute of Personal Injury attorneys; the “Top 3 Personal Injury Lawyers in Houston” by Three Best Rated; and “Houstonia Top Lawyers in Houston” for 2015. He also holds a Distinguished Justice Advocates certificate, awarded to only the top 1 percent of attorneys in America.
“Helping people that have been taken advantage of from insurance companies and big corporations is, without a doubt, the part of my job I love,” says Mr. Argento.
CHARLES J. ARGENTO
CHARLES J. ARGENTO & ASSOCIATES
1111 North Loop West, Ste. 715
Houston, TX 77008