At Chez Sami, owner and Chef Jon Walter creates a dining experience that landed him on the 2023 James Beard Award Best Chef Texas Semifinalist list. A one-of-a-kind experience in West Texas, this pop-up turned brick-and-mortar provides guests with an intimate meal worthy of all praises.
A Lubbock native who returned to the area in late 2019, Jon always knew he wanted to open a French restaurant. This dream was solidified as he traveled the world perfecting his craft as a private chef catering to yachts sailing across Europe. It was during this time that he learned the art of French cuisine.
Jon grew up in the Hub City and discovered his interest in culinary at a young age. From washing dishes at a local Chinese restaurant in high school to eventually running his own business, Jon’s culinary passions brought him back to the Hub City.
Upon his return, Jon had the idea of sharing his family’s tamales with the community that played such a significant role in his training as a chef. What started out in 2020 as the Tamale Lady, a family restaurant that served Jon’s grandmother’s infamous tamales, turned into the fine dining pop-up concept of Chez Sami. Only offered a few nights per week at The Tamale Lady’s Wolfforth location, Chez Sami began generating more interest than the tamale menu, paving the way for the transition to operating Chez Sami full-time and creating Lubbock’s only French dining experience. In fact, it was the interest and guidance of one patron and his wife who saw a vision for what Jon could do.
A gift from the couple, he has perfected his menu by showcasing recipes found in their family cookbook titled The Family Cookbook: French, which was written by Alvin Kerr with special consultant James Beard. Each plate has been modified to feature the palate and talents of the man who creates them.
Guests will find a traditionally exquisite menu with items inspired from the well-loved blue book. With new menu items incorporated nightly, start out the meal with Escargot in a garlic butter white wine sauce topped with parsley. From Short Rib Bourguignon served with mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, mushrooms and a red wine demi-glace to the Marget Canard duck breast with sides of lyonnaise potatoes and asparagus all topped with peppercorn sauce, Chef Jon Walter adds his own flare to each item. Top the night off with a Crème Brulee that will make you say “oui oui!”
Not only is the culinary experience offered at Chez Sami unique to the Lubbock area, but guests will find the intimate atmosphere to be an immersive experience as they marvel at the artwork by local artist Kelly Reyna that lines the walls. With design and decorating help from his parents, Pete and Dela Esqueda, Jon has created a space inviting to all walks of life.
At Chez Sami, Jon is on a mission to introduce the people of West Texas to traditional French recipes and offer an immersive fine dining experience to all who visit.