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THE WOODLANDS -- Hubbell and Hudson Bistro in The Woodlands is a very unique place.

Executive Chef Austin Simmons is French trained and it shows.

He comes up with things like tomato and watermelon salad.

"Sounds refreshing," one diner said.

He also makes a mean charred octopus.

"It's really good, really, really good," another diner said.

The dish tastes a lot like a nicely charred chicken. Chef Simmons said it is his second most popular appetizer behind ceviche. He has so much talent he could make most anything taste good.

"We're playing around with beef tongue right now," Simmons said.

He admits he likes adventurous cooking.

Yeah, we're working on a chef's room. We'll do tasting menus up here at The Woodlands."

The restaurant, located at 24 Waterway Avenue near The Woodlands Mall, will soon expand. However, the owners have closed down a market where shoppers could buy ingredients to make their own meals.

Simmons is nominated for My Table Magazine's "Best New Chef Under 35" award. He is 27. He could win for his steak and lobster dish alone, and his lobster bisque is exquisitely rich and delicious.

Simmons said in high school he was a cut-up but he found his calling when he cooked family meals to take the load off his single mother who worked two jobs.

No doubt she is proud of her son who could be on the verge of national acclaim for his culinary skill with both eclectic and traditional dishes.

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