Opening a restaurant of their own has been a decades-long dream for brothers Manuel, Victor and Cristian Pucha. But according to bar manager and sommelier Cristian, their real goal is far loftier. The brothers are working "to take Ecuadorian gastronomy to America," he says. "One day when we go to Ecuador, people will know who we are."
Media has mostly described Maison Pucha as a French restaurant. And indeed, brother Victor Hugo (disappointingly named for friends, not the Les Misérables author) calls his brand of pastry "French technique with Ecuadorian ingredients." Executive chef Manuel forged his reputation in French fine dining, including Bistro Moderne, Philippe and, most recently, La Table. But he describes his steak frites and trout amandine as more of a conduit, an incentive for guests who've fallen in love with his Euro classics, to try his elevated takes on native dishes like tiradito de pescado. Guests have no reason to worry about losing the French classics, but as the restaurant grows, they can expect more Ecuadorian dishes and Manuel originals, too.
In the meantime, the three brothers share a house in Katy, a fourth has just arrived and the fifth is considering joining them soon. This is truly a family affair, but it's one that could have big footprints on the international dining scene.