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.

27 comments on “Najat Kaanache is Out of the Kitchen at Souk in Trinity Groves

  1. 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..

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. “…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.

  6. 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.

  7. Pingback: Executive Chef Ian Tate is Out of the Kitchen at Salum and Komali | SideDish

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

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

  21. 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.