Covid-19 took a lot of things away from people, be it loved ones, livelihoods, jobs, or opportunities. In the Houston food and beverage industry, it shook structures and left workers in the dark for weeks, sometimes months.
Sasha Grumman was one of those workers. In late 2019 she started as executive chef at Rosalie Italian Soul, the anticipated restaurant from celebrity chef Chris Cosentino. After those typically blurry first few months, Rosalie started to settle into a groove, says Grumman, and then Covid-19 shut it down temporarily.
"I'm a make-it-work and adapt kind of person, so I really wanted to keep working, but it just didn't make sense," says Grumman. "I came to terms on that rather quickly."
She was furloughed in March but hasn't been back to Rosalie since. In time she started thinking about how to keep doing what she loved, and that turned into baking focaccia, that classic Italian oven-baked bread. After friends raved about it, she started selling it. Now, she bakes eight slabs per day and sells out routinely. Next came cinnamon buns that she sells on Sundays; beyond that, more plans are in the works. Grumman is a success story of this weird year when uncertainty reigned.
She and other stories of pivoting and new approaches will be on display Saturday at A Night Market, set for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 4100 Montrose Blvd (the former Black Labrador courtyard) and presented by Tatemó, Emmanuel Chavez's corn tortilla business born in 2020 that became a farmers market hit, and Underground Creamery, Josh DeLeon's small-batch ice cream business that started in 2020 as a hobby. This will be the second A Night Market, with the first being held in November 2020.
Other featured vendors include Alligator Pear, through which former Poitín chef Dominick Lee makes gumbo and other Creole dishes for sale; Angie's Pizza, through which Houston native Angelo Emiliani makes Neapolitan and square pies; Kin, through which Evelyn Garcia concocts Southeast Asian specialties and condiments; and Azucar, through which Andrea Angulo bakes breads, concha cakes, cheesecakes, and more.
These are some of the hottest foods in Houston right now, proof that the chefs behind them can write their careers on their own terms.
"Each chef lost opportunities during the pandemic but little by little, day by day, each individual has adapted and worked towards a new project or format of an old one," wrote Chavez in an Instagram post promoting the event. "It's going to be a pleasure to host this talented group of chefs on Saturday; it’s always fun to cook with people you admire and respect."
Face masks are required for A Night Market.