Houston chef Alex Padilla wins 'The Chew's' Best Chef on the Block

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Best Chef on the Block Alex Padilla shares his fajita burger recipe
Best Chef on the Block Alex Padilla shares his fajita burger recipe

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- He won! Houston chef Alex Padilla was named the Best Chef on the Block on "The Chew."

Padilla, executive chef at Legacy Restaurants including The Original Ninfa's on Navigation and Antone's Famous Po' Boys, was named ABC13 and "The Chew's" Best Chef on the Block for Houston.

The local contest was held at the Houston Food Bank in January. Judges included ABC13's Katherine Whaley, CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler, Sylvia Casares from Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen and Peter Montalvo from the Houston Food Bank.

Local chefs were chosen on their culinary accomplishments as well as their community involvement.

Padilla competed against six other chefs from other cities for a chance to be named the Best Chef on the Block. After beating out two other contestants on Wednesday, he appeared on the ABC show Thursday at noon for the final cook-off and won.

Houston chef Alex Padilla wins 'The Chew's Best Chef on the Block

After winning, Padilla was on "The Chew" again on Friday as he showed off his culinary flair and cooked next to the show's chefs.

RECIPE: The Original Ninfa's on Navigation fajita burger by Alex Padilla


-- 10-oz. ground fajita skirt steak (seasoned with salt and pepper)

-- Oaxaca Cheese (or choice)

-- Grilled onions

-- Grilled Peppers

-- Brioche or Challah bun


-- Season meat with salt and pepper, cook on a flat grill at 375 degrees to preference (medium or medium rare) -- about 8 minutes on each side for perfect medium

-- Melt cheese on patty

-- Top with grilled onions and peppers (remove seeds from peppers)

-- Toast bun lightly on the grill

-- Finish with mustard, ketchup, chipotle mayonnaise or any other condiments

The story behind the dish:

"Ninfa's is obviously well-known for fajitas, ever since Mama Ninfa started serving them out of her garage in 1973. What I love about this dish is it takes that history that we have and puts it on a burger. Everybody loves burgers, and everybody loves fajitas, so it's like a grand slam.

"Six or seven years ago, I was flying from L.A. to Houston and I skipped lunch, and I was really hungry and I fell asleep. And in my dream, I was so hungry. I said, 'Well, I'm really hungry. I need something fast. I need a burger.' And when I woke up, I woke up with this idea of a fajita burger. That's how I came up with that idea. I don't know of any other Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston that do it."

About Chef Alex Padilla:

A native of Honduras, Alex Padilla has been Executive Chef at The Original Ninfa's on Navigation since 2006. He learned how to cook from his mother, Maria, who was a line cook for Mama Ninfa Laurenzo at Ninfa's in the 1980s. Alex spent 18 years in fine dining in San Francisco under the tutelage of James Beard Award-winning chef Nancy Oakes at her famed restaurants L'Avenue and Boulevard prior to coming home to helm the kitchen at The Original Ninfa's. He is an avid Houston Astros fan and enjoys fishing, reading and spending time with his three young children.