Chef Tom Fleming has an affinity for fine Alsatian wine. He developed his taste for the dry Rieslings and aromatic Gewürztraminers produced in the northeast region of France in 1990 when he apprenticed under classical French chef Paul Haeberlin at L’Auberge de l’Ill. The restaurant in the small town of Illhaeusern was established in 1878 by Haeberlin’s grandfather in an old farmhouse. L’Auberge de l’Ill received its first Michelin star in 1952, one in 1957, its third in 1967, and has maintained three-star status for more than four decades.
Fleming went on to cook all over France, the East Coast of the United States, and eventually back in his hometown of Chicago, where he was opening chef for Jean Joho’s Brasserie JO, which won a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in 1996. A year later, Stephan Pyles lured him to Dallas to launch the short-lived AquaKnox. While the project was delayed, Fleming hooked up with David Holben, then executive chef at Mediterraneo. Fleming signed on as chef de cuisine and worked there for 18 months before Holben introduced him to Franco Bertolasi, proprietor of The Riviera, which had ranked as the top restaurant in Dallas for nearly two decades. Fleming cooked there for two years, wowing the public and critics alike.
All of which make his latest venture something of a curiosity.