UPDATE: Top Houston Chef Chris Shepherd Announces False Positive Test for Covid-19

The acclaimed restaurateur has had one heck of a long weekend.

By Timothy Malcolm October 15, 2020

Chris Shepherd.

Image: Jenn Duncan

Updated 10 p.m. Oct 19

In a surprising turn, Chris Shepherd revealed on Instagram Monday that he has been determined not to have Covid-19.

According to the chef, his initial Qualitative PCR test was positive for the coronavirus, but two subsequent tests in recent days came back negative. His doctors determined he was free of Covid-19 after receiving an initial false positive.

"The ups and downs of testing positive and then negative twice is a reminder that there is still so much about this virus that even the experts don’t know," wrote Shepherd. "Let’s continue to be diligent by masking up and social distancing. This isn’t over, and we all need to take our health and the health of those around us seriously. Please stay safe. Let’s get to the other side of this."

Published 4:30 p.m. Oct 15

Chris Shepherd, the James Beard award-winning chef and owner of multiple restaurants in Houston, revealed on Thursday that he has tested positive for Covid-19.

View this post on Instagram

Last weekend, I kept a prior commitment to cook out of state and traveled by plane for the first time since March. As a precaution, I got tested for COVID-19 when I returned home on Tuesday morning and tested positive. I’m thankful to have no symptoms, and I’m feeling fine. I have also tested for antibodies and didn’t have any, which shows it’s a new infection that likely occurred on the trip. I have been extremely diligent in wearing a mask, remaining socially distant from staff and guests and not working service in the restaurants. The few staff members who were in close contact with me on Tuesday when I returned home have been tested with negative results. The chefs I cooked with on the trip and my Fiancé @htownlindseybrown have all tested negative as well. I will quarantine at home for the next 10 days. All of our restaurants remain at 50 percent capacity--we chose not to increase to 75 percent in order to maintain six feet in between tables. Everyone at Underbelly Hospitality remains diligent about wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing and maintaining the safest environment for staff and guests. We love you all. Thank you for the support. Please stay safe.

A post shared by Chris Shepherd (@cshepherd13) on

In an Instagram post published Thursday afternoon, Shepherd wrote that last weekend he left Houston to fulfill a previous commitment to cook at an event. On Tuesday, he wrote, he returned and got tested. The results came back positive for the coronavirus, leading Shepherd to take a 10-day quarantine in his home.

Shepherd continued, writing that his fiancé and public relations manager Lindsey Brown; the chefs who joined him on the trip; and staff members he came in close contact to on Tuesday all took tests that came back negative. He also said he is showing no symptoms of the virus.

In an email, Brown clarified that she and Shepherd were in Montana last weekend. He arrived back in Houston late Monday night and was tested first thing Tuesday. In between getting tested and learning of his positive result, he spent about a half hour at Georgia James wearing a face mask at the time the restaurant was closed, and according to Brown, "only a few staff members were in the building."

Once he learned of his positive test, he went home.

In the Instagram post, Shepherd added that an antibody test showed no antibodies, meaning it's a new infection and suggesting that it was acquired during his weekend trip. 

Shepherd's quarantine changes nothing about his restaurants—Georgia James, Hay Merchant, One Fifth Mediterranean, and UB Preserv are all operating as usual.

Shepherd is one of the first highly visible Houston chefs to publicly reveal a positive Covid-19 diagnosis. Ronnie Killen told Houstonia in August that he contracted the virus earlier in the spring.

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