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Najat at Souk. (photography by Kevin Marple)

Najat Kaanache is Out of the Kitchen at Souk in Trinity Groves

I was off the grid for a couple of days and didn’t learn until late Saturday that chef Najat Kaanache was no longer at Souk. According to Teresa “Gubbshoe” Gubbins, the chef, who refers to herself as the The Pilgrim Chef, has been gone since February 20.

Kaanache came to Dallas to consult with Stephan Pyles on Stampede 66. She left to try and ressusitate Private Social/PS. When PS didn’t work, Kaanache hung in and decided to roll out a menu filled with  Awesome Texas Food, an act that did not sit too well with Stephan Pyles. It was around this time she claimed to have  invented the cronut.  She has the trademarked the word.

Last September, Kaanache  joined forces with Yaser Khalaf owner of Baboush and Farnatchi.  They launched Souk in Trinity Groves. I thought it was a great fit for her. But obviously something went astray. I reached out to Kaanache, but I haven’t heard back.

The word on the street is Kaanache is a control freak and difficult to work with.  I don’t know any of the circumstances first hand and Khalaf isn’t talking. I’m going out on a limb here because it’s a well-known fact that many chefs are control freaks and difficult to work with. The names of a few prominent male chefs in Dallas fit the personality profile. I can’t help but wonder if Kaanache got the boot because she is a woman. I’m just thinking out loud here. Young girls who don’t play nice in the playground are considered bullies. Young boys who don’t play nice are just being boys. It’s worth a conversation.

  • FullContact29

    Wow. If you are fired by this magazine for throwing out wild, unsubstantiated accusations, please don’t assume it’s because you’re a woman who doesn’t play nice.. It will be due to the fact that you’re an idiot who doesn’t play nice..

  • Nancy Nichols

    It wasn’t an accusation, it was a theory. I’m just tossing it out as a subject. I hate to break it to you that women chefs are treated differently.

  • Brad Murano

    comment bait! oh, wait… drat.

  • FullContact29

    So your theory is that Stephan Pyles hates women? I met him once and he was very nice to my wife and daughter. Had I known that he was so awful I would have punched him in the nose. Thank you for your courage.

    For the record, I didn’t call you an idiot. I’m just tossing it out there as a subject.

  • Nancy Nichols

    What does Stephan Pyles have to do with this? Why can’t you just have a conversation here instead on calling me an idiot.

  • FullContact29

    “…that did not sit too well with Stephan Pyles.”

    Claiming it was a theory and not an accusation is a distinction without a difference. Your theorize that there is this group of men that would rather keep women down than see their restaurant succeed. That doesn’t seem plausible.

    I do apologize for the use of the word “idiot”. I’m sure you are a very smart person that just happens to have a giant chip on their shoulder. I truly hope that I’m raising my daughter to think differently.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I think there are men and women in the restaurant business that will take bullying from a male chef and not from a female chef. And I have no chip on my shoulder. This is not a new topic of conversation. As to Stephan Pyles, he was not happy that she was doing the same food at PS that she did at Stampede 66. That was not because she was female.

  • ChefWhimsey

    I hear she was just completely cuckoo.

  • Pingback: Executive Chef Ian Tate is Out of the Kitchen at Salum and Komali | SideDish()

  • Stephen

    As a totally neutral party, I want to say that it doesn’t appear that she’s ever claimed to have invented the cronut (croissant/donut combo), but is saying she coined the word “cronut” as a cross between creative and donut. I had to figure that out after I ate at Souk and could not find anything croissant like in those “cronuts”.

    I haven’t read all the discourse on the subject, so I could be wrong.

  • Ben

    She told me personally that she invented it and that she has trademarked the term “cronut” both after much research appear to be untrue. She happens to come across as a self absorbed individual and one who tries to take others credit to make a name for her self.

  • VeryFriendly Nihilist

    Dallas simply isn’t ready for a top chef. It looks like she is going back to New York City and that is where she belongs.

  • VeryFriendly Nihilist

    FullContact29 is clearly just trolling.

  • Corky Luxembourg

    You’re absolutely right for thinking out loud, Nancy. You heard she’s a control freak, but so are men, and they don’t get fired, right? Therefore, she got fired because she’s a female control freak. A sad product of our male dominated world. Is she white? No? Well there’s another reason. Just thinking out loud here.

  • MatthewMaj

    Are there other examples of this, it seems there are plenty of women with great places that are succeeding. Obviously gender equality in just about every workplace could improve. But with Najat there’s obviously other issues, there’s a reason she hasn’t stuck with three or four different places with different ownership. And none of her own places have even had good food! Seems like she’s gotten more than enough chances… I don’t see any case for her as a victim.

  • Underglass

    That is an absurd comment.

  • Greg Brown

    VFN: I’ve seen you trolling on other posts, offering plenty of derision & criticism with no facts or background to back it up. Time to move on.

  • Anish Thakrar

    Wow I typically enjoy reading your articles, and NEVER comment on articles frankly I’m just too lazy and don’t really care enough to waste my time but had to say something about your out loud musings. You definitely have a right of free speech but having the forum you have you have to think twice before throwing out an accusation like sexism against a respected and established restauranteur, without, admittedly, not even knowing about Chefs departure till a week later. On top of that you didn’t offer any more facts other than that she no longer works there. Inevitably when an accusation is flung in a forum like this the only thing that is taken and further communicated by your readers is “she was fired b/c she’s a woman” and the “I’m going out on a limb here” is left off. No where in your article do you mention that Leslie Brenner just gave the restaurant a 2 star review and trashed the food in her review. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this could have something to do with why she’s not there anymore. See what I did there I used a FACT and formed and an opinion basing that FACT as my source for that opinion.

  • Gigi B

    When I first learned that Najat was coming to Dallas I was so excited b/c of her cooking pedigree. Then I went to Private Social under her command & was appalled by the meal. It was very clear that she was all about showing off her “molecular” techniques that mind you, she didn’t even pull off that well, and placed no emphasis on the food. Her Dali paint board dish was ridiculous (smears of mushy vegetables in different colors on a wood plate for $18). Really a pointless dish. I will spare you the rest of the details.

    That experience was enough to keep me and several others away from anything she had her hands in. So I don’t think she was thrown out for being a female. I’m sure it had to do with not living up to her training background. And now I’ll happily check out Souk!

  • Gigi B

    She is not a top chef as her training suggests. Not at all.

  • DemigodH

    Agreed. Nancy, you should retract this article before you dig a deeper hole. Yours was an utterly ridiculous and somewhat offensive post.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I’m having a conversation not accusing anyone of anything. What is offensive? I never said she was fired for being a woman. And Anish, what does Leslie Brenner’s review have to with with this? You think I should use her opinion as a fact? There are a lot of chefs who get 2 stars and don’t get fired. Fact. And women are often treated differently than men in kitchens. Fact.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I never said she was a victim. I used her case as a springboard for the conversation on women chefs as bosses and how, sometimes, they are judged differently for arrogant behavior.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I have heard many comments similar to yours.

  • Greg Brown

    Nancy, you definitely started a conversation but IMHO the respondents are reading way too much into your article. i have re-read it several times and I am still not understanding the reason for the level of animosity from the respondents. Asshole man in kitchen–driven, focused. Asshole women in the kitchen–bitches. Get the job done with satisfied customers? Let it slide. Unhappy customers–you’re out. Male, Female to Other that’s the way it works. There are women leading successful kitchens right now (Local, Victor Tangos, The Grape, to name a few) and I really enjoy seeing their creativity and leadership. I hope to see more in the future.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Greg, you can write it next time. I admit I didn’t do a very good job of making my point clear.

  • Greg Brown

    Ha! My fingers are always ahead of my brain. You threw out a thought bomb. Some knew what to do with it. Some didn’t.

  • serverlady

    word on the street is UNDERSTATED. I worked there, was brought in as a lead server and they had hoped to lean on me as management. Najat is a nasty person. I don’t know stephen Pyles or anyone else but she is an irrational person, controlling doesn’t suffice. She expected a destination restaurant to just ‘grow’ out the fact that she exists, and stands in one place. However, she refuses to treat experienced fine dining servers with any due respect and refuses to let them try the food. ?? “How is that Andalusia Tagine?” I don’t know maaaam. I’m not allowed to taste it. SHE TREATS Women poorly because she’s insecure and possessive of her man who managed her. lol She treats everyone poorly, not just women. She doesn’t belong in Dallas or anywhere she isn’t in a room, by herself. But the owner isn’t doing any favors for his restaurant either. Old skool misogyny and a lot of yelling do not a successful restaurant make.

  • serverlady

    you all are all wrong. Najat WAS / IS a nasty person. Rude, full of herself, absolutely delusional, very insecure and out of control. She literally expects a destination restaurant to just happen because she exists or stands in one place but refuses to let any servers try the food. “What does that Andalusian Tagine taste like, miss?” I really don’t know maaaam. We’re not allowed to eat the food lol The owner doesn’t do any favors for his restaurant either. Old Skool Screamin’ Restaurant Misogyny is how he rolls. After 4 days of Nasty Najat and this clown I walked out laughing.

  • davizrubio

    she is no chef in Spain does not know anyone like chef. only says that he has worked on “Bulli”, but was practical without charge, and only in the confectionery. Only know how to do marketing, her husband Charles makes many pictures and videos which are then placed in magazines paying a huge amount of money. I say this because she called me to come from Spain to make a menu of paellas and Mediterranean cuisine. I been living in his house two months, has not paid me, all have been problems, I have cheated on their partners. Also this has happened to me has happened to many young Spanish chef who has brought deceived with false promises USA.
    It also makes workers come from Spain as tourists, when in fact they are working … she is making a crime of illegal immigration.

    David Rubio, Executive Sous Chef. Ibiza (SPAIN)