The popular International Grand Tasting at Savor Dallas 2012 took place on Saturday night at Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas. Organizers noted the move from Dallas to Irving was to make it easier for the residents of Fort Worth to attend. Any worry that the change in venue would deter event patrons was quickly dispelled once the doors swung open. The place was packed, people shuffled around tightly, filling the venue as guests got the opportunity to hob-nob and rub elbows with some of the finest chefs in DFW. The food and drink were, of course, spectacular as chefs were well prepared to excite and surprise their guests this year.
While nearly every dish our small group sampled was delightful, we thought we would pay homage to some of the most exciting and delicious dishes presented this year. So here are (in no particular order) our picks of the Top 10 Best Bites of the 2012 Savor Dallas International Grand Tasting…
Excuse any typos as I am parked on the side of the highway, attempting to post from my phone. I just received a call from Andrew Chalk who was having lunch at Cafe on the Green. He learned that the Four Season’s Club chef, Jonathan Rivera, has been promoted to execuchef at Cafe on the Green. Katie Natale left last week to teach. Rivera has been assisting Natale for the last few months. Okay, carry on.
Edit: A few more juicy details from James Tidwell, the Master Sommelier and Beverage Manager at Four Seasons:
Jonathan trained at the Culinary Institute of America and has previous experience at Four Seasons Houston, The Stone House 1854 in Little Compton, RI, and The Bentley Hilton in South Beach, FL. He was the chef de cuisine during Katie’s maternity leave, and was spectacular in the role. I am very excited that he has accepted the position on a permanent basis. His menus have been superb for pairing with wines and other beverages, and I am excited to continue the collaboration on food, beverage, and service with he and Kyle Miller, our restaurant manager.
I was sad to see Katie depart, but know that she is enjoying motherhood. I am happy that she found a position that allows her to indulge her love of cooking while spending time with her family.
I anticipate that Jonathan’s cooking will be similar to Katie’s in many ways. They shared a common aesthetic where food is concerned.
There is a reason that the international organization Les Dames d’Escoffier is one of the most prestigious organizations for women in the food, fine beverage, and hospitality industries to be a part of: the women included are some of the very best in their field. With a mission of education, advocacy and philanthropy, the invitational organization includes members such as Lidia Bastianich, Alexandra Guarnaschelli, Mary Sue Milliken, Kathryn Hall, Carolyn Wente and hundreds of other influential women who have taken food, wine and hospitality to a new level of inspired creativity and artistic influence. Continue reading "The Dames of Les Dames d’Escoffier Did Dallas Proud Last Night"3 Comments »
That’s right, Keller. While it may be known as a nice bedroom community to Dallas and Fort Worth commuters, and the home of a million chain restaurants and some average BBQ, Keller has not, hitherto, been a fine dining destination. That could all change. The Milk & Honey Co. is an offbeat lunch spot, tea room, fine dining restaurant and supper club based in an old clapboard house in the original 40 acre deed for the town. At lunch, it serves straightforward soups and sandwiches. In the afternoon it becomes a refined tea room. In the evening, the owner’s son Joshua Harmon takes over the kitchen and that is when the sparks begin to fly.25 Comments »
We all knew it was coming. Since day one, CampO Modern Country Bistro has been clear on the fact that consulting chef Matt McCallister was just that: consulting chef. Today, John Paul Valverde, co-owner of CampO and Coevál Studio, announced the new chef will be Josh Black, whose culinary experience includes The Cedar Social and Stephan Pyles. Black has been McCallister’s sous chef at CampO (when did they start using that big O?) since the restaurant opened in November 2011. The release also says McCallister will continue to advise the CampO concept “as needed.” Methinks they will needO him a lot. How much time McCallister will have after he opens his own restaurant, allegedly in the Design District, remains the big question. No, I guess the big question is: Can Black continue to cut the same edges McCallister cuts. Tough act to follow.
Adam posted this cheery message on Sunday night:
“Hello FB friends!!! I would like to start off by saying thanks for all the support you have shown me with the new restaurant. Unfortunately, I am no longer the Chef at 303 Bar and Grill, due to a constant concept battle between the owner and myself. I am now no longer affiliated with the food that comes out of its kitchen, other than them using the menu that I designed and created. I WILL be on to bigger and better things soon, and I hope to have yalls support with my next venture. Thanks!! Talk to you all soon!”
Turns out big bar mogul Frank Carabetta is taking over Adam’s spot from yesterday’s post:
“The person making all the calls in his place now is a guy named Frank Carabetta. Just want everyone to know who to thank for all the changes being made to this restaurant!! If you would like to “like” and continue to follow this establishment, please find “ThreeOthree Barandgrill” on Facebook.”
Sounds like everyone’s happy with this arrangement…. for now.
UPDATE: Not everyone is happy in 303 land. Adam Bazaldua called to tell me about his fall-out with Frankie Carabetta.
Jump for the rest of the story. Continue reading "Chef Adam Bazaldua Leaves 303 Bar and Grill"
Yesterday, I was invited to lunch at Trinity Groves. I sat at a large table surrounded by the partners involved in the massive project and several members of the Food and Concept Advisory Committee. As one of the partners, Phil Romano, chewed my ear off with details, Mike Babb filled my plate with barbecue.
Babb is the first “graduate” of the Trinity Groves Restaurant Incubator program. In short, Trinity Groves is the 13-acre restaurant-retail-artist-and-entertainment development at the base of the west end of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge which developers Phil Romano, Stuart Fitts, and Larry “Butch” McGregor expect to be what Silicon Valley is to high tech or what Ghirardelli Square is to San Francisco.
As Romano eased back on his sales pitch, Babb told the story of how he ended up snagging the first restaurant to open in Trinity Groves. It’s a classic tale: Man with boring job loves to smoke meats on the weekends. He delivers it to church functions. Somebody at the function asks him to cater her daughter’s wedding. Someone at the wedding has to have Babb’s ‘cue for a family reunion. Babb loses his job and becomes a caterer. His friends love his barbecue and urge him to open a restaurant. Babb hasn’t a clue on what to do. Somehow he found Phil Romano. BAM!
“I love barbecue and the blues,” said Babb. “My place is going to be indoor and outdoor. It’s going into that space right over there.” He points toward a 2,500-square-foot space which is currently a hollowed-out purple building. The name of the restaurant hasn’t been finalized.
I was honored to be the first media person to taste the first “product” to come out of Trinity Groves. It wasn’t the best barbecue I’ve ever tasted but it was also cooked someplace else and delivered to the project offices in tin pans. The ribs were tender and the accompanying sauce was more sweet than hot. The cole slaw was the best part of the meal. Babb admits he’s still tweaking his banana pudding recipe. But that is what the incubator program is all about.
As the plates were cleared, Romano wound up for his next pitch: “We’re going to have a food center and entertainment zone. We’ll have a brewery [Four Corners Brewing], a 10,000-square foot cooking school, ice cream shop where we will put extra protein in the ice cream to make it healthier, a fish market bigger than Pikes [in Seattle] with a major player coming in to do it, an oyster bar, a butcher shop making sausages, a German market, a local cheese maker and I’ve already talked to Paula, a chocolatier, a South American florist, a coffee roaster, a baker. You’ll see artist galleries and designers, jazz clubs, belly dancers, and Luna tortilla is moving their tower here and we’re putting in a glass wall so you can watch. Real diversity.” (Yes, belly dancers. Remember, this is Phil Romano I’m talking to!)
Stay with me…18 Comments »
Tuesday afternoon several hundred ladies and gentleman who lunch, including Mayor and Mrs. Mike Rawlings, gathered to dine for a very worthy cause, the annual SOUP’S ON event benefiting The Stewpot and hosted by The Stewpot Alliance. Led by 2011 SOUP’s On Chair Tonya Meier, and hosted by Lascaux Films Managing Partner/Producer Gary Cogill, formerly with WFAA-TV, the luncheon helps raise both awareness and funds for this 30+ year old organization.
The Stewpot was started in 1975 by The First Presbyterian Church in downtown Dallas to be a safe haven for people who have fallen on hard times, the homeless and at-risk individuals of Dallas who need a helping hand and a warm meal, which is generously provided along with resources for helping get them back on their feet. Over the last 30+ years The Stewpot has also helped start new organizations of help for the community including Austin Street Center, Genesis Women’s Shelter, Interfaith Housing and The Bridge. Today The Bridge serves between 1500-2000 warm meals to the homeless of Dallas each and every day. Continue reading "Soup’s On For The Stewpot"
Quinones says owner/chef Abraham Salum wants to change up the menu a bit. “We want to do three different sections on the menu,” Quinones says. “We are going to do some contemporary dishes, some more familiar dishes but not Tex-Mex, and we’re going some rustic hard core authentic dishes.” I asked her to explain what she meant by contemporary. “I like to do some pretty crazy things,” she said. “My guests at Alma really loved it when I went crazy.” Look for menu changes in “the next few weeks.”
Hmm. Perhaps authentic regional Mexican food isn’t selling as well as we thought. Just curious.
Veteran chef Joel Harloff has landed at/on The Second Floor. You know Joel. He’s been in the kitchens of Green Room, Dali Wine Bar, Mi Piaci, and Nana Grill to name a few.
Today Scott Gottliech, chef/partner of Second Floor and Bijoux, announced Harloff will work in tandem with Gottlich to “further establish The Second Floor as a local restaurant that just happens to be in a hotel.” Harloff replaces J. Chastain who left to become the as chef de cuisine at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, working with Bruno Davaillon.
An incoming press release announces the new executive chef at Frisco’s popular One2One: Tommy Simpson. Excuse me, the “famed Executive Chef Tommy Simpson.” He is not only the chef, Simpson “partnered with One2One in mid-December.” No word on the whereabouts of former chef Jeff Moschetti.
Simpson’s resume includes: Executive Chef at N9NE Steakhouse, Executive Chef and GM at AM/PM Lounge, Executive Sous Chef at Nobu Dallas, Hotel ZaZa’s Dragonfly, and the Crescent Court Hotel.
Moschetti and Simpson must know each other. Moschetti’s path includes stints at Beau Nash (Crescent. I miss that restaurant.), Nobu, Dragonfly, Warwick Melrose, and Stephan Pyles. (Jeff, there is an opening at Stephan Pyles.)
One2One features “upscale-casual American Cuisine.”
UPDATE:Christina LaBarba sez Moschetti is at Sfuzzi in Las Colinas.
The Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Dallas was full last Friday night for one of the most unusual culinary events of the year. The Culinary Showdown consisted of two teams: one led by the Fairmont’s André Natera, executive chef of the hotel, and the other by Paul Peddle, executive sous chef. They faced off in an Iron Chef-type competition in which scallops were the mystery ingredient. Each team leader had an assistant. Chef Natera snagged Eric Marting, a member of the Fairmont’s Dallas culinary team and their likely entrant in the 2012 Rising Star Chef Competition. Peddle worked with sous chef Andrew McDonald, also on the Fairmont Dallas culinary team, is a 2011 Rising Star Chef Winner.
Each team had 90 minutes to create as many dishes as they wished that featured the secret ingredient. Team Natera produced.
Meddlesome Moth’s execuchef Chad Kelley has left, according to owner Shannon Wynne, “to teach.” Where? “I don’t know,” Wynne said. “We’ve promoted sous chef Jennifer Otsuki.”
I reached Kelley. “I’m taking a break for a while,” Kelley said. My wife and I are looking at new concepts for next year if the economy turns around.” (She’s an architect.) Until then, Kelley has taken a position at Le Cordon Bleu on Webb Chapel in Dallas.
Wynne just issued this statement: “We are excited that Jennifer Otsuki has been promoted to Chef at the Meddlesome Moth where she has been working as sous chef under Chad Kelley for nearly two years. She is the one with the flair always sporting feathers and flowers in her hair and loves to visit the tables. She is joined by sous chefs Nic Amoriello and Keith Grober. Amoriello was formerly a sous chef at Taverna and Nobu and a graduate of CIA in Hyde Park New York. ( We call him the Ninja Chef.) Grober recently graduated from the culinary School of Ft. Worth.”
I love press releases. I live for them. I get maybe 60 a day. Sometimes more. Sometimes they piss me off. Other times they crack me up. In the spirit of fun, I bring you the opening line of : RATHBUN’S BLUE PLATE KITCHEN INTRODUCES CHEF JENNIFER NEWBOLD
“Today Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen introduced Chef Jennifer Newbold, who will work directly under Executive Chef and Partner, Kent Rathbun.”
Yow. Zah. That could make it hard to reach the salamander! But seriously, Rathbun has added a new female chef which always makes me happy. Newbold has been in Rathbun’s fold (clearing throat) for some time. She’s cheffed at Jasper’s. Before that she cooked at Blue Point Coastal Cuisine in San Diego. She’s originally from Washington where “she often hunted, fished, and cooked with her dad, as well as cultivated fruit and vegetable gardens at home. Working directly with the land and its bounty developed her interest in food and has carried over into her career, as Newbold regularly engages with local farmers to ensure that Blue Plate Kitchen’s menu features dishes as fresh and local as possible.”
Kinky. Okay, all in fun. If we can’t kid each other who can we kid?
Tomorrow this man will be unemployed. The man, chef Asdren Azemi, is closing Ruffino’s, the Italian restaurant opened by his father twenty years ago. Something tells me this man won’t be without a job long.
Azemi has worked at Ruffino’s since he was five. He swept the floors. Eventually he became a dishwasher. “I liked the dish-washer position the best, because there was no where to go but up,” Azemi says. (Guess sweeping was a glam job in those days.) At sixteen, he was cooking. After college he attended the French Culinary Institute in NYC.
Closing Ruffino’s is sad. Why, Chef Azemi? “It’s time to move forward and try something fresh…something new!” Chef Asdren says. “My Father created a staple on this quiet street. I enjoyed taking over and adding my own touches to his classic dishes, but now it’s time for me to create my own staple.”
Is he going into office supplies? “I’m currently working on several projects that I can’t speak about just yet,” he says. “However, I very much look forward to sharing more details when the time is right. I think many people will get to enjoy my new initiatives.”
I quite like the look of this man’s future.1 Comment »
In October, Abraham Salum, owner of Salum and Komali, took his gig to The James Beard House in New York City. This place is a culinary showcase where professionals and amateurs go to feast on food prepared by chefs from all over the world. Events take place almost daily and, in the same month as Salum’s appearence, attendees sampled over 25 meals from chefs from four countries. In fact, name a top chef, from Ferran Adrià down, and it is likely they have presented at the James Beard House.
Once he returned from his dinner at JBH, I asked Salum what the experience was like..
Wolfgang Puck will returns to Dallas on November 18 to host a reservations-only dinner at Five Sixty restaurant in Reunion Tower.
jump for the menu… Continue reading "Wolfgang Puck in Town Next Weekend to Host Dinner at Five Sixty"
This just in from the folks at The Cedars Social: veteran East Coast Chef Kyle McClelland is relocating to Dallas to take over the kitchen. Here’s the deal:
Chef McClelland, a Massachusetts native, recently relocated to Dallas from New York City, and is excited about his new position. “I’m thrilled to be in Dallas and for this new adventure at The Cedars Social,” Chef McClelland says. “I loved working with Michael Martensen on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. I am excited to work with the local suppliers, redevelop the menu and build on what Brian Williams and Michael have done thus far at The Cedars Social.”