David Christopher Skinner
David “Christopher’s” path to becoming the chef and restaurateur he is today involves a circuitous journey. David’s love of food began at the early age of four when he asked his grandmother “Mimi” a pastry chef to make him a carousel cake for his birthday.
By the age of seven Mimi had taught him the basics of cooking – temperature, time, salt, and passion. She instilled in him the importance of cooking with fresh ingredients and that growing your own vegetables makes the dish even that much better.
At age 12 she gave David his first knife, a Sabatier 8” chef knife along with Julia Child’s two volume set “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Within two years David had completed all of the recipes and was ready for the next challenge. That challenge came a few years later when he was able to open his own restaurant called La Vie en Rose (after the Edith Pilaf song), in the back of his grandmother’s gourmet cooking store. David would leave school early each day under the DECA program and prepare for evening service. The small space only housed 10 tables but it was a great learning experience and set the stage for future culinary endeavors.
After graduating high school David went on to Oklahoma State University where he majored in Finance and Economics. But the lure of food was too great and after one very late night with a couple of professors he decided to open another restaurant while still in school. To say that David is a bit of an overachiever is like saying the French like wine.
So in 1985 Christopher’s on Washington was opened. By this time David was making frequent trips to California experiencing the new California cuisine at restaurants like Chez Panisse. Christopher’s on Washington featured French infused California cuisine and became a huge success and fine dining destination in a landscape of burgers and beer. David helped to pioneer the use of "farm fresh" ingredients in restaurants and contracted with local farmers for produce and proteins. It was at this time that David started to become known as “Christopher” after the restaurant. Rather than fight it he just went with the flow and now uses the name Christopher with all his food and wine endeavors.
Upon graduation David had a real dilemma, continue working the restaurant or use his new degree and go into a different profession. Always up to a challenge he decided to pursue a career in commodity trading. A few years later he was lured into a career with Conoco and eventually built one of the worlds largest energy focused strategy firms. Along the way he wrote several best selling decision-making text books, became an Adjunct professor at Rice University, and helped with a series of business start-ups.
While not cooking professionally over the last two decades he never let his skills or interest dwindle. His dinner parties were legendary and often featured dishes and ingredients he picked up while traveling the world on business. In 2006 he purchased the eculent building along with a bed and breakfast and a year later purchased a local winery. In 2011 he built a new commercial winery, Clear Creek, and started plans for eculent’s menu and design. By the spring of 2014 David was ready to embark on a new journey. David’s passion, an attention to detail, and a love of food has led to his ultimate creation…eculent.
Front of house
The charming Blake Lirette has been part of our team since 2013. Blake is the first and last smiling face you see at eculent. His path to eculent doesn't tread through kitchens or cuisine, but through people and creativity.
Blake has been managing restaurants in the clear lake area for the last 11 years. While being a full time student at the University of Houston, he worked as a new store training manager in four corporations, overseeing 18 different grand openings. Blake opened every bonefish grill in Texas becoming their brand ambassador. It was during a marketing excursion for bonefish that he met Chef David Christopher Skinner. Unbeknownst to Blake, his wine tasting of Clear Creek Vineyards sparked the beginning of his role at eculent.