Louisiana has made its way to Market Street in The Woodlands. Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen is the newest addition to the restaurant scene, offering quality Cajun cuisine. Schilleci’s is family owned & operated, with a closeness that is refreshing. Dad busily greets and sends guests on their way, while his son, owner-executive chef Wayne Schilleci, Jr., is busy in the kitchen fulfilling his dream.
From the music to the menu, the atmosphere is reminiscent of New Orleans. Inside and out, the tone is set for a pleasing Louisiana feel. Dad Schilleci explained, in preparation of building the restaurant, they wanted it small, like New Orleans. The women in the family picked all of the interior design & decorating commenced.
To his family’s delight, an abundant amount of New Orleans natives have fully embraced them. The regulars, whether eating or taking an afternoon stroll, make a point to stop by and shake hands with this dynamic Dad.
Um, he slid, skipped, and almost broke into song, while en route to deliver bread pudding to a deuce dining on the far end of the patio. Excitement continued as he all but lost oxygen explaining Cynthia Mitchell Pavilion’s closeness. Perfect ear shot to enjoy any concert, but if the concert is a total snore, turn the volume up on the patio and… move on.
Chef contentness loomed for close to 18 minutes, as chef Wayne Schilleci and I had a mini sit down. His previous endeavors were all smaller delis & catering, which produced big business. Massive culinary skills were obtained through the most respectable route imaginable… himself.
After asking how it all began, chef Wayne simply replied, “We are just blessed with talent.” While only 8 years old… passion arrived. His mother, who passed away, was a chef in New Orleans. His eyes lit up speaking of her talent, which will be detailed in his upcoming cookbook, “Recipes of Life.”
Everything chef Wayne bakes is created from scratch. He has always yearned for the exact flavor he experienced during childhood. Whether it’s Italian, Mexican, American, or German, there are no limitations to this chef’s genre of cooking.
He describes the entire experience as highly spiritual… a part of his dream. After adding a cooking show to his resume, countless years of planning to open a restaurant finally became reality. This chef hearts everything from management … to cooking… to inventory.
The profit margin maintained is well above average, which he quickly confirmed, is not bragging… Being the executive chef and owner, the worries of theft and waste are nonexistent. As far as the cooking part, he just loves to make people happy. Double Heart.
A powerful surge shot to the core of my heart as chef Wayne and I spoke of my brother… chef Dave. He noticed the similarities they both share, starting out as busboys & ambitiously working their way to the top in the restaurant industry. Chef Wayne explained that his ache has existed for over 15 years. “Any time a person has an incredibly deep passion it will continue to go on. My passion still burns the same, just at a different level… It never goes away.”
Triple Chef Story Sniffle.
While waiting to be greeted, one couldn’t help but wonder if shady service had ultimately arrived. Once hello was heard, it was evident this server had her section under siege. Arriving just in time with water, selection for soup was a cinch. The first to come was a cup of crawfish bisque. Served warm with a side of bread & butter, all ingredients ignited a frenzy of flavors.
Seafood gumbo includes a generous amount of shrimp & crabmeat. The gumbo is prepared with shrimp stock, flour, garlic & seasoning, combined with green bell peppers, bay leaves, celery & onion, served on top of rice. Other specialty soups suitable for AVH humans include crab bisque, as well as chicken & dumplings. Carnivores unite, for you have an option of chicken & sausage gumbo with rice.
All Po-Boys at Schilleci’s are served on Gambino’s Bakery French Bread. This bakery possesses the power to thrust New Orleans natives into a non hostile moment of chaos, baking over 100 different items fresh… daily. Texans, prepare for bakery basics.
Per Gambino’s website…
“After opening its doors over sixty years ago, Gambino’s Bakery has become a tradition, not only in New Orleans, but around the world. A Doberge cake from Gambino’s makes the perfect birthday party. Mother’s Day wouldn’t be the same without a Cupid’s Cream Red Velvet Cake. Mardi Gras wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without a Gambino’s King Cake. If you haven’t experienced the tradition of celebrating with a cake from Gambino’s, you can start your own tradition today.”
Upon recovery of this cake & bread baking bonanza, not equally as exciting, but somewhat close, is the confirmation from the server that grilled Po-Boys do exist at Schilleci’s. All sandwiches are served with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes and… pickles, along with French fries & coleslaw. Sheer joy took over as the green flag for a veggie side substitution became fact.
Other items in this section include fried shrimp, catfish, crawfish, soft shell crab, and oysters. Those not welcoming fried food with open arms may choose grilled chicken or the always tasty… chicken salad. Um, sloppy roast beef wastes a little space in this section as well. Yikes.
Above average satisfaction remained present after tasting the shrimp etouffee entrée, which came highly recommended by the… chef. Having creaminess at a level of greatness, this dish overflows with plump semi sorda jumbo shrimp & rice.
After hearing Dad relentlessly rave about the New Orleans Bread Pudding, resisting was not an option. Made with Gambino’s bread, this New Orleans original is smothered in warm praline sauce then topped with pecans & whipped cream. Trumpets immediately sounded as an army of angels lined the patio, rejoicing in bread pudding song… Um, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. Regardless, this dessert has achieved well deserved doting.
Family driven restaurants possess a force to be reckoned with. The likelihood of having staff better than blood is close to impossible. Working under the direction of this wholehearted chef seems to put a pip in the step of those along for the ride. There isn’t a frown to be found at Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch