With her chunky blue necklace and fitted blazer, Amelia Von Kennel bears little resemblance to your typical farmer. Neither does her husband, Ben Von Kennel. But then again, they don’t really consider themselves farmers.
“We grow tomato plants,” Ben explained, “and we feature them to local markets and restaurants.”
The couple now sources their hydroponically-grown plants to some of the most popular restaurants in Dallas. But before all this, in their early 20s, they both worked in advertising, a world that had always felt familiar. Both of their families were in the industry. They worked long hours and earned steady paychecks but aspired to do something more fulfilling. One day, they decided to risk it all – their financial security, their relationship, their entire life. Ben and Amelia quit their jobs, took out a few loans and moved from Dallas to the small town of Bells to start their own produce business. Ben says Amelia jumped on board the minute he proposed the idea to her. Some friends and family members, however, lacked the same sense of enthusiasm.4 Comments »
You know Gene and Julie Gates. Or, at least, you’ve heard them. They’re the husband-and-wife team that used to be the glorious morning voices of 103.7 Lite FM. Now they’ve switched careers and jumped into the restaurant world by opening Battuto, a family friendly Italian restaurant in North Dallas. (“Battuto,” says Gene, “is the base which most sauces are built from. It’s traditionally made with lard and parsley, and you very slowly heat the onions” for extra flavor.)
The Gates’ restaurant softly opened mid-March, and it’s gearing up for a grand opening any day now. Full disclosure: our own Hayley Hamilton helped consult on the wine menu. Here’s what the former radio hosts-turned-restaurateurs have to say about life, love, and the pursuit of good food.
Carol Shih: I’m just in awe of that…
Julie Gates: That we’ve worked together, and we haven’t killed each other?
CS: Yeah, that’s crazy. Working together since 1995 is a long time. Continue reading "People We Love: Battuto’s Gene and Julie Gates"
On Tuesday night, Urban Acres partnered with Joel Salatin (the monumentally celebrated sustainable farmer and author from Virginia) and some pretty awesome local chefs to present a Steward’s Dinner at Four Cornery Brewery. We entered through the makeshift barn doors and an immediate wave of camaraderie passed over us. Everyone there was passionate about food. The Brewery – with its wide open warehouse space, bright metallic brewing containers, and beer posters adorning the walls – was filled with many attractive, clean faces. I don’t know if it’s because these people eat so well or maybe Urban Acres has a Handsome Clause in its member selection, but the room was brimming with good breeders. It seemed as though we were all on some magical food team together and couldn’t wait to share our encouragement and passion for sustainable living practices.1 Comment »
Chef Jon Stevens, who has dabbled in the kitchen of The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton and now the popular Dallas bistro, NOSH, has a resume that would make any person drool. Tack on a “Hottest Chef in Dallas” nomination from Eater Dallas to that resume, and now you might need a napkin for the drool rolling dangerously down your chin.
As native of San Francisco, Stevens understands the farm-to-table movement and brings this concept to the European-inspired dishes at NOSH. I met with him at the restaurant to discuss his hottest chef nod, fires in the kitchen, and other goodies over a serving of tempura-fried Brussels sprout leaves and rich banana bread pudding.
Jacie Scott: So, let’s get to the good stuff. You were selected as one of the hottest chefs in Dallas!
Jon Stevens: Well, there were a lot of people selected for that.
Scott: How many? How did it come about?
The idea of wearing a suit everyday, making a ton of money, and exerting minimal energy sounds pretty appealing to most. Then there’s chef/restaurateur Kenny Bowers. He preferred to trade in that lifestyle for a chance to play with his food without judgment and a minivan with his face on the side.
Bowers is proving that stepping over the edge to do what you love combined with a little quirkiness creates a recipe for success. The native New Englander, who brought us Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill, Kenny’s Burger Joint, and Kenny’s Italian Kitchen, recently tacked on Kenny’s Smoke House to his empire. I met with him at the restaurant to pick his brain a little.
Jacie Scott: How did Kenny’s Smoke House come about?
Kenny Bowers: For the last 25 years, I did a lot of seafood. I did new American stuff at the Wood Grill and Italian. In New England and Boston, there’s no barbeque. So, when I came down here, I was fascinated with it because I didn’t know anything about it. I really became kind of obsessed with it.4 Comments »
What’s Sharon Hage not doing these days? Two days ago, I posted about Hage working on the menu for The Rustic, a restaurant opening in Uptown this spring. Whatever pool of dazzling, immortal water she’s drinking, I’d like to have some, too. Now my inbox tells me that she and Barbara Werley, both powerful women in the restaurant business, are donating their efforts to YW’s Sip ‘N Savor event benefitting low-income women. That’s pretty darn awesome.
Press release time! Yay!
2 Comments »
Dallas, TX (Jan. 23, 2013) – Food and wine femmes chef Sharon Hage and Master Sommelier Barbara Werley are pairing up February 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the 2nd annual Sip ‘n Savor event benefiting YW (YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas). Guests will be treated to Hage’s farm-to-fork creations paired with red, white, bubbly and dessert wines hand-selected by Barbara Werley. Both women will be on-hand during the event to meet guests and chat one-on-one about the unique wine and food pairings. The limited-space event will be held at the University Park home of Angela Fontana and Andre Szuwalski.
Werley is one of only 17 female master sommeliers in North America and one of only 190 worldwide. She currently manages more than 33,000 bottles of wine at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. Hage is lauded for her farm-to-fork-focused cuisine she introduced at her former York St. restaurant. These days she is sharing her food philosophy with other chefs and restaurateurs through her new consulting and menu development company.
“Sip ‘n Savor is a major fundraiser for YW and advances our efforts to help low income women change their lives as they move out of poverty,” says YW CEO Jennifer Ware. “It is a huge honor that these two immensely successful women, Sharon Hage and Barbara Werley, are donating their time, talent and treasure to benefit other women working hard to get themselves and their families out of poverty.”
Space is limited to 125 guests. Tickets are $120 per person or $200 per couple, and are now on sale at http://www.ywcadallas.org/wine/wine-donation.asp. Those who can not attend but still want to support YW can make a donation on that same web page: http://www.ywcadallas.org/wine/wine-donation.asp
Sponsorship support from Central Market and Stacy’s, event ticket sales, and proceeds from the $20 cork pull held during the event will benefit YW.
I’m not a food critic. So when I went to last night’s 17th Cafe Momentum pop-up dinner, I was a little worried about if I could do the food justice. I wanted to capture the evening, but my inability to describe food as anything other than “yummy” or “delicious” had me concerned.
But the great thing about Cafe Momentum is that although it pops up at the hottest restaurants which are making some of Dallas’ best food, it’s about more than just the plate that’s set in front of you. It’s about the program and its mission. It’s about the young men who wait on you and plate your food. It’s about their stories. And it makes for a dining experience unlike any other in Dallas.
Cafe Momentum has been talked about quite a bit since its launch more than a year ago. Recently, Carol wrote about it and its founder, Chad Houser, formerly of Parigi but now full time with the program.
The premise of Cafe Momentum is great: teach juvenile offenders who have gone through Youth Village’s culinary program how to work in a restaurant—from front-of-house to the kitchen. When the young men finish the program, they’ll not only have experience but the names of some of Dallas’ best chefs on their résumé. The ultimate goal of the program is to have a stand-alone restaurant (Houser is currently searching for a location). But to get there, Cafe Momentum needs money. And that’s where the pop-up dinners come from.
Last night’s dinner at Oak, our restaurant of the year, was my first to attend. Before I got there, I had some questions. So, after the jump, is a guide for Cafe Momentum newbies. Continue reading "A Good Cause Plus Great Food Makes for a Unique Dining Experience"1 Comment »
Think back to when you were in college and the professor posed a question for the class. If you were anything like me, you were too shy to raise your hand. Luckily, both Ben Hurt and Blaine Iler aren’t the shy types, and when they raised their hands on that fateful day in class, it was the beginning of a fruitful partnership that is helping to positively impact the world.
Since they both had ambitions in entrepreneurship, Ben and Blaine decided to put their heads together to come up with an idea that could benefit the biggest problems facing society today. They decided on a conscious capitalism project called Impact Foods to help alleviate world hunger. After a trip to Honduras, the vision became even more clear that something effective needed to be done. They followed in the footsteps of SMU alum Blake Mycoskie, who started a little project called TOMS Shoes, by proposing the 1:1 business model. They launched their business. For each package of granola sold, Impact Foods donates a micronutrient pack to a malnourished child. Now the granola can be bought in stores like Whole Foods for $6.99 each.
I had a lovely chat with both Ben and Blaine and decided to delve deeper into their vision for a better tomorrow.
Jump for the Q&A.3 Comments »
Mesa needs more love.
At the media dinner I was invited to last night, there wasn’t a single breathing soul in the restaurant besides the bloggers and writers tasting the new menu by Raul Reyes, owner and chef extraordinaire of Mesa Veracruz Coastal Cuisine. Sure, it was a Wednesday evening, but it was still surprisingly empty for a restaurant of such high caliber.
Perhaps Reyes’ new fall menu can persuade enough people to venture out to the adventurous side of Oak Cliff, where Mesa is squeezed between a pawn shop and bakery.
Jump for some sweet shots by Melisa Oporto. Continue reading "Mesa’s New Fall Menu is Spectacular"
The great Glenn Mitchell, host of KERA’s The Glenn Mitchell Show, once asked me if people who make a living waiting on tables prefer to be called waiters/waitresses or servers. I replied servers. I was a guest on his show at the time and the phone lines lit up with servers who demanded to be referred to as waiters/waitresses and vice versa. At the end of the hour, we tallied the votes and it was dead even.
That was 2004. I’m curious to hear from the masses now: What shall we call you?
BTW, I’ve come up with a new term for obnoxious foodies: Dishbags. Like it?6 Comments »
Not to brag or anything, but I may have been the one to convince Chef Ryan Barnett to make his fourth and last pop-up dinner on August 24 completely vegan. It all began when I cornered Barnett for a photo in the kitchen during his second pop-up dinner. (See photo to the right.) As he told me his plans to make his last pop-up completely vegetarian, I asked, “Why not make it vegan?” Vegan cooking for a French-trained chef like Barnett is quite a challenge, you see, but I’m sure he’ll make it look like a piece of cake. This young fella first started his culinary training at L & M Kitchen & Salumeria in Oxford, MS, and then went on to work at Neighborhood Services, Bistro 31, and Ormsby Catering.
Jump to the bottom of this post for reservation info or continue reading an interview with Ryan Barnett, where we discuss bonsai trees, Alice Waters, and all things random under the sun.
Carol: What made you actually listen to me?
Ryan: I looked at it as a challenge. I hate when people come in, especially when I worked at a steakhouse, and we had no other options other than sides. Vegans want to eat a full start-to-finish meal just like everyone else. It became more of a challenge. How do I pair all these ideas down? How do I make this into a flowing meal? Finally I sat down and tied it all together.4 Comments »
Even though Joe the Baker has only been in Dallas for under a year, he’s made his presence known on Twitterverse as a hardcore tweeter and pastry whiz. Currently, he works at Le Cordon Bleu. When Joe isn’t teaching students about pumpkin Mont Blancs, he runs an online cooking blog – JoetheBaker.com. Joe Baker (that’s his real-life name, no joke) demonstrated how to make a souffle-style cake (cake batter with egg whites and microwaved in a cup) while we chatted in his kitchen.
PH: Why do you think Dallas is so crazy for crème brûlée?
JB: I don’t know why Dallas is crazy for crème brûlée. I mean, they’re delicious. It’s an all-inclusive dessert – sweet and rich, you can flavor it with anything. Hoping we can move toward something a little more modern and creative, though. I keep trying to push the envelope a little bit, every time I meet someone new.
Jump because you like Joe.1 Comment »