Savoring Heritage: Chef Casey Castro's Culinary Journey from South Africa to Precinct 4’s Katy area

16 Feb, 24

Amid the aromatic symphony of spices, simmering pots of lamb curry, and the movement of his mother’s and aunt’s hands to transform mounds of dough into crisp kingklip empanadas, chef Casey Castro’s passion for food flourished.   

Now the proud owner and head chef at Astor Farm to Table in Katy, Castro shared how his passion for recreating dishes he learned from helping in his family’s kitchen as a child in Cape Town, South Africa, led him to operate an establishment that celebrates the vibrancy of South African and Latin cultures and cuisines.  

"The way my aunt and mom used to cook back home was with a lot of love,” chef Castro said. “A lot of the recipes and life lessons I have learned has come from me looking back at what my mom and aunt used to do for my family and many others.”  

After moving from South Africa to Texas in the early 2000s and meeting his wife, Fernanda, Castro set on a path to honor both their cultural upbringings and established Astor Farm to Table in the heart of Katy.   

“Through the years, I found the identity of Africa through flavors, and that our culture is able to connect with a lot of other people,” Castro said. “And it’s because of the mentors I got when I came here, [as well as] my aunt, my mother, my grandmother, and my wife’s Argentinian heritage that I took ownership of my own and was able to embrace the culture of our community.”  

Offering customers multi-cultural dishes from South African and Latin American like Bo-Kaap Cape Malay Kerrie and Venezuelan patacón, Castro’s bold innovations to his family’s and wife’s recipes are not only bringing global cuisine to the plates of Katy residents, but also a destination for fostering greater community.  

"When you investigate the history of our cuisine, it’s representative of hundreds of countries,” Castro said. “The customer base Astor has is from around the world, and we are able to make all of them and their families feel like they’re at home.”  

That feeling of home isn’t only created when Castro serves dishes – it’s evident when he serves the community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Astor Farm to Table donated over 10,000 meals to feed first responders and essential workers. Astor Farm to Table also donates meals to over 25 schools in the Katy area and Texas Children’s Hospital every few months and is a partner to Katy ISD’s Promise to Read campaign.  

Through his community work and food Castro hopes to inspire younger generations and aspiring business owners to pursue their passions. 

"I want to enlighten our new generation that although the history tells you otherwise, that you have to look and believe in your dreams on what you want to do.” Castro said. “With the right determination, anybody can do anything.”  

This story is the second installment of Harris County Precinct 4’s Black History Month series. Read the first installment here: Houston Ballet’s Lauren Anderson of Precinct 4 is an example of ‘living Black history’