Legendary leaders in the Texas restaurant industry will be led in a moderated discussion about why they got into the business and what they've learned along the way.
Tracy Vaught may been as an “accidental restaurateur” when she tried her hand at the hospitality industry more than 35 years ago, but she is now one of the most respected in the field. The geologist-turned-restaurateur owns/operates H Town Restaurant Group which includes four of Houston's most successful, award-winning restaurants - Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol and Xochi. Vaught and James Beard Award-winning husband Chef Hugo Ortega have published two cookbooks, Hugo Ortega’s Street Food of Mexico and Backstreet Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes From Our Neighborhood Cafe. She is a three-time semi-finalist for Restaurateur of the Year for James Beard Awards, named 2003 Restaurateur of the Year at Houston Culinary Awards, and recognized in 2017 for her work by Houston Business Journal’s Women Mean Business Awards. In 2008, coinciding with Vaught’s 25th anniversary in the business, she was honored with a Texas Restaurant Association Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year Houston Chapter award.
Norman Abdallah has been CEO of Del Frisco's since 2016 - he was previously one of the company’s directors. Abdallah was an operating partner for CIC Partners, where he took an operating and investing role at the private-equity group’s portfolio companies.
Before that, he had been the interim CEO of Dinosaur BBQ. He also established a restaurant investment platform for a family office. Previously, he worked with Romano’s Macaroni Grill before its acquisition by Ignite Restaurant Group Inc. He has worked with Restaurants Unlimited and Fired Up Inc., parent company of Carino’s Italian.