It was their mutual passion for pristine meat, cured to perfection in all forms of charcuterie and salumi, that initially launched a friendship between Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber. They soon learned that both were hands-on and self-taught, one from a family whose Italian heritage had him making vinegar, pickles and wine with his father from the time he was a boy, the other raised in rural Texas visiting his grandparents’ ranch for family meals every week. And each had established themselves as pioneers in the local food movement in Houston. Ultimately, it was their deep commitment to and respect for locally sourced products from family farms that was the genesis for their collaboration at Revival Market.
Chef Ryan Pera
Chef Ryan Pera first appeared on the Houston food scene in 2003 as Chef de Cuisine at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston under the critically-acclaimed Chef Tim Keating. Ryan next became the Executive Chef at the celebrated 17 Restaurant in the Alden Hotel, where his food was the “must have” meal for anyone in the city who enjoyed fine dining. Pera’s modern American menu, with its richly-layered global flavors, was praised by the Houston Chronicle’s restaurant critic Alison Cook for its clean style, “spot-on” execution and “ideas that are as interesting as his palate.”
Given his pedigree, no one should have been surprised. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in anthropology, Ryan moved to Manhattan to pursue his passion for cooking. He trained in the traditional European style of apprenticing, working with culinary luminaries that include Chef Sottha Khun at the four-star Le Cirque and Chef Jonathan Waxman at Washington Park, where he was sous chef.
While he honed his skills, his palate and his commitment to seasonal, local ingredients in New York City, it was in Houston that Ryan found his culinary voice. He explored the Asian markets and the ethnic restaurants for which Houston is known, shopped at the burgeoning farmers markets, and experimented with the region’s rich array of flavors, working each into his classically trained palate to develop his own signature style.
Most recently, Ryan has discovered an interest in and affinity for the craft of butchering, charcuterie and salumi. Ryan’s mastery of all things cured, hung and stuffed into sausage casings will be front and center at Revival Market, which will showcase Charcuterie, Salumi and Deli in forms both traditional and cutting edge, made with all natural meat from his partner’s Revival Farms. Houston will also reap the reward of that time spent with his Dad learning to make vinegar, pickles and wine — Ryan plans to have a seasonal repertoire of house-made staples for the home cook’s larder that includes stocks, sauces, pickles, jams, and preserves, to be sold under the Revival Market label.
In Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, if a locavore wants pasture-raised, high-quality meat, there’s one guy they look for at the farmer’s market — Morgan Weber. They stand in line to get the unctuous cuts of his Revival Meats heritage breed pork, Gulf Coast lamb, and insanely fresh eggs, all of which are produced at his Revival Farms, just southwest of the City. Local food writer Ruthie Johnson praised Revival Meats as a “local meat company that’s as passionate as it is compassionate” and that is committed to “resuscitating heritage breeds of livestock.”
Morgan’s road to farming and founding Revival Meats has everything to do with destiny. He grew up with farming in his blood in the small rural town of Yoakum, midway between Houston and Corpus Christi, where his grandparents owned just under a thousand acres of land and traded Brahma cattle. He wasn’t much interested in farming as a young boy, and he earned a degree from Baylor University in music before starting a successful career in real estate development in Houston.
Morgan found his way back to his roots through his passion for food — eating it in his chef friends’ restaurants in Houston, learning how to prepare quality meals at home and, eventually, growing it so that the food he cooked tasted like the fresh meals from his childhood on the farm. His passion for eating local was further fueled by trips to the growing number of urban farmers markets in Houston; he read everything from Michael Pollan to Joel Salatin’s philosophy on sustainable farming, even visiting Salatin’s Polyface Farm during one vacation. It was after that visit that Morgan made the decision to return to Yoakum and heal the family ranch – land that had been abused, overgrazed, and leased out to other ranchers since his grandfather’s death.
And so in 2009 Revival Farms was born, or rather reborn under a new name, on the same land he had watched his grandparents work. In revitalizing Revival Farms, Morgan reached back to values and ideals deeply steeped in his family tradition, filtered through his 21st century vision for small-scale, humane and sustainable farming.