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 July 2019...

Hotel Spa: Pursuing Distinction

The Wellness Movement continues to evolve and hotel spas continue to innovate in order to keep pace. Fueled by intense competition within the industry, hotel spas are seeking creative ways to differentiate themselves in the market. An increasing number of customers are searching for very specific, niche treatments that address their particular health concerns and, as a result, some leading spas have achieved distinction by offering only one specialized treatment. Meditation and mindfulness practices are becoming increasingly mainstream as are alternative treatments and therapies, such as Ayurvedic therapies, Reiki, energy work and salt therapy. Some spas specialize in stress management and offer lifestyle coaching sessions as part of their program.  Other spas are fully embracing new technologies as a way to differentiate themselves, such as providing wearable devices that track health and fitness biomarkers, or robots programmed with artificial intelligence to control spa environments, or virtual reality add-ons that transport guests to relaxing places around the world. Some spas have chosen to specialize in medical procedures such as liposuction, laser skin therapy, phototherapy facials, Botox and facial fillers, acupuncture and permanent hair removal, in addition to cosmetic body shaping procedures and  teeth whitening treatments. Similarly, other spas are offering comprehensive health check-ups and counseling services for those who are interested in disease prevention treatments. Finally, as hotel spas continue to become more diverse, accessible and specialized, there is a growing demand for health professionals with a specific area of expertise. There is a proliferation of top class, quality wellness practitioners who make a name for themselves by offering their services around the globe, including athletes, chefs, doctors, physical trainers and weight loss specialists. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.