Chris Ward, the executive chef of The Mercury, texted me the news: Eric Anderson, the executive chef at T/X in The Stoneleigh Hotel, died Friday after an incident involving a car. I called the Le Méridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh but there was no manager on duty available to comment. However, one employee confirmed the tragedy. According to the employee, Anderson joined the kitchen “three or four” months ago.
“Eric worked with Danielle Custer at Laurel’s. When she closed, he came to me right after I opened citizen 1989 or 1990,”said Chris Ward. “He was at The Mercury for eight months and as far as I know, he left here and opened his own place out in the country.”
Anderson’s profile on LinkedIn indicates he worked as executive sous chef DFW Marriott Hotel & Golf Club fro 2003-2007. Ward, who knows a family member, says Anderson was 42.
There will be a memorial service for Eric on Wednesday at 7:00Pm at the Le Meridian Dallas, The Stoneleigh. The family welcomes friends and colleagues to celebrate Eric’s life and meet his three boys. The family encourages anyone to bring pictures, videos, or any other items relating to Eric. If you have any questions, email me email@example.com Comment »
Yesterday, I was writing about Italian food for the magazine and my mind wondered back to Modo Mio, the restaurant that opened on Frankford and the Tollway in 1997. The chef was Rino Brigliadori. I can still remember a gnocchi dish, his tiramisu, and a lovely frozen peach he filled with house-made peach gelato. I named Modo Mio one of the 12 Best Restaurants of 1997.
Over the years, I spoke with him many times. He moved from Modo Mio and opened Positano followed by Bene Bene. He was a charming man and always a pleasure to talk with whether the conversation was about food or the pitfalls of the restaurant business.
Last August, I learned he was ill. Yesterday, I did a search to see if I could locate him and I was horrified to find his obituary. He passed away, at the age of 68, on November 16, 2012. I believe his son, Rino Brigliadori, Jr., is in Dallas and perhaps other members of his family. I would like to express my sorrow for their loss and my tardiness at discovering this sad news.
Update: Steven Doyle sends word: “There is an homage to the gnocchi on Gene Gate’s menu at his new restaurant, Battuto’s. I believe Brigliadori’s son gave him the recipe, or at least his blessing.”
The sun hangs low in the sky over WE Over Me Farm at Paul Quinn College as a crowd of more than 400 filters onto the football-field-converted-garden-converted-five-star-restaurant. Warm, orange light illuminates the smiles of each guest as they take eager steps out onto the soft earth where the annual “A Community Cooks” event is held. Three years ago, the college turned an unused football field into an organic farm for the residents of the Highland Hills area around the campus where the closest grocery store is five miles away. Now the neighborhoods, as well as local restaurants, have a source for fresh food.
More than 20 chefs from their respective Dallas restaurants showed up to feed the familiar faces of the community. The eclectic range of guests came from all over the Metroplex—Dallas, Plano, McKinney—but earthy landscape, soft music and exceptional food reminded me more of a family reunion. There was even rumored to be a few Austinites present among us. Wattley affectionately referred to her supporters as a “smörgåsbord.” There’s really nothing like phenomenal food to bring people together. Eddie “Lucky” Campbell shook up specialty drinks for guests all night.
Lucky danced and jived as he served up cocktails to the crowds, and his enthusiasm was echoed through the gathering. There’s really something to be said about the whole mission of WE Over Me Farm, which is what brought all these people together. If you haven’t heard the message, farm manager Andrea Bithell lays it out.
The farm, which aims to provide healthy foods to an area that has traditionally lacked a supermarket within walkable distance, sells food at a discounted rate to families in the community. Bithell says you can give someone a few bucks and send them to a fast food dollar menu, but that doesn’t really solve the issue of hunger in low-income communities. Homegrown food does something the fast-food market can’t: It feeds the body and mind, Bithell says. She explains what $2 spent at her farm can do versus a few bucks spent at a fast food joint.
“You can buy a burger off a dollar menu,” Bithell said. “Are you full? Yes. Are you fed? No.”
The farm started in 2009 as a partnership between the school and Pepsi-Cola. It has since produced more than 10,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce. Its mission models off something Bithell calls the “Four C’s”: community, cafeteria, charity and chefs.
The farm gives 10 percent of its sells to charity, as well as feeds 400 to 500 Highland Hills families per week. If those numbers aren’t something to be astounded by, I don’t know what is.
Expect BIG things from this modest, 2-acre farm. And that’s what Dallas is about, right? Expect dishes like braised lamb and spring carrot salad, fresh spring pea soup and strawberry gazpacho made almost exclusively from the fresh produce grown right here on this farm by the students of this college.
As the sun set over the farm and the night came to a close, Paul Quinn President Michael J. Sorrell announced, “One promise: we are just warming up.”
Aimee Pass is a senior at the University of North Texas studying journalism, English, and political science. She has been interning with D Magazine since January. She is a long-time food-lover, first-time food-blogger.
Teresa Gubbins reports the closing of Restaurant Ava, the charming restaurant in Rockwall where you could find a mean plate of shrimp and grits and a smile on the face of Chef Randall Copeland. Copeland died early Tuesday morning.
Copeland’s sudden death, at 39, shocked the Dallas restaurant community. He touched the lives of many chefs, restaurateurs, customers, farmers, and vendors. His Facebook page is covered posts of fond memories and pictures.
No official announcement has been made on the cause of death, but several of Copeland’s friends say he suffered from sleep apnea. Details for the celebration of Copeland’s life are pending. I know that many restaurants are working together to put on a special event.
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 »
To survive and thrive, artists need patrons. Dallas has a great food scene, not just because of the chefs and food producers, but because of the people here who are passionate about eating well.
The city has had its share of great diners and food supporters: Harriet Rose, Carol Hall, “the two Nancys,” Dedman and Lemmon, Ida Pappert–all non-professionals who gave their time, energy and palates to the cause of better eating in Dallas.
One of these, Polly Waddington, died Saturday.
Polly and her husband Don joined the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food as soon as they moved back to Dallas from New York in 1991 and have been actively involved in the Dallas food scene every since. They volunteered at the Dallas Farmers Market Cooking Classes, co-sponsored by the AIWF and the Friends of the Farmers Market, every Saturday for 20 years, supported Les Dames d’Escoffier and made friends throughout the Dallas food community along the way.
Polly’s favorite cause was AIWF’s Days of Taste program, which teaches children about real food, where it comes from and how to enjoy it, just as she had taught her own children–David Waddington, wine director at Sigel’s on Greenville Ave., food writer Mary Brown Malouf and Helen Duran, longtime chef at the Crescent Club, who is now culinary director for Coppell ISD, carrying on her mother’s legacy.
Polly and Don were passengers on both D Magazine chef cruises (2003, 2004). (Polly won the ” loudest yell for tequila” contest in Bermuda!) They also joined a group that traveled with me to Cornwall on a trip former Dallas chef Nick Barclay and I organized in 2002. We spent ten glorious days at Barclay’s Hotel and ate our way across southwest England. Polly and Don were frequent dining companions on my restaurant reviews. That is, until they I got “busted” one too many times. Most chefs and restaurant workers recognized them as dining royalty and knew I was their loyal subject.
Services for Polly Waddington will be held Wednesday at 1:00 pm at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas.15 Comments »
Gladys Aston passed away on Monday August 20 after a long illness. She was 75. Gladys worked side by side with her husband Richard, and later her daughter Mary Miller making cakes for the residents of the Park Cities and Dallas at the now 78-year old Aston’s Bakery.
Born in Minnesota on March 28th 1937, Gladys Irene Johnson was the 11th of 12 children. Her parents were small farmers. She worked at National Foods as a baker, and met Richard Aston who was doing an internship for Dunwoody College. They married, and in 1970 moved with their daughter Mary to Dallas where Richard’s father had opened Aston’s Bakery in 1934.
This afternoon Amy Severson stopped by the bakery and spoke with Mary. Mary said that even when her mother was no longer able to come into the bakery, she would call several times a day to find out if everything was being handled correctly. Her mother’s concern for taking care of their customers extended to her dying wish to her husband: “If I die overnight on a workday, please don’t call Mary [to help me] because there’s nothing she can do and she needs to get them [customers] their cakes.” When Mary took over the day-to-day operations and moved it to Lovers Lane, she became the first of the third generation to run the bakery.
Gladys is survived by her husband, Richard, daughter Mary and husband Jeff Miller, and grandchildren Garrett and Mallory. Services will he held on Monday, August 27th, 1:00 at North Dallas Funeral Home. Donations in Gladys’ memory may be made to either Operation Kindness or The Family Place.12 Comments »
The other day I reported news about the transition on Frontburner. We’ve all known for a long time that the data on GuideLive, especially the online restaurant listings have been anemic for years. Go to GuideLive.com and search for the directory listing for The Porch. What you find, dear readers, is a paragraph copied from The Porch’s website and pasted as editorial on the site. Now, according to the press release:
Rich Alfano, General Manager of The Dallas Morning News’ Arts and Entertainment business, said, “Pegasus News allows us to reach more consumers and strengthens our ability to provide the latest and most relevant information about places to visit, events, music and restaurants. Pegasus News’ hyperlocal data provides consumers with information on approximately 225,000 places, 5,000 events, 4,200 restaurants, 2,500 bands and Friday Night specials.”
Poof! They don’t have to bother their busy editors, they just bought the content of PegNews and will paste it in their online content and web apps. (Pop-Up Media?)
So what, you ask? So what about the staff at Pegasus News? Most of them are now employees of DMN. But where in the creme brulee is dining reporter Teresa Gubbshoe Gubbins? She’s gone underground (not dat DAT underground, like REALLY, REALLY deep under the surface of the earth.) She ain’t talking to me. Hmm, little Ms. Skinny B where art thou? Shall we bring her to SideDish? Oh, that would be so peachy!!!! Find her…First one to spot her wins a prize.35 Comments »
I just received word from Tracey Evers of the Dallas Restaurant Association: former chef and co-owner of The Place at Perry’s, Travis Henderson, was killed earlier this morning in Carrollton by a member of the Dallas SWAT team. The news of Henderson’s death is heartbreaking. Henderson was a devoted, hard-working chef. While he was chef at The Place at Perry’s, he was in constant contact with the media and promoted the restaurant and his co-workers with great pride. Henderson was the creator of one of the best chicken-fried steaks in Dallas. He was a lovely person and his talent will be missed. R.I.P, dear Travis. Dallas will not be the same without you.56 Comments »
This morning chefs from all over the world gathered at St. Monica Church in Dallas to pay their last respects to Dallas’ most significant chef Jean LaFont. Once family and friends were seated, a parade of over 50 chefs dressed in chef whites filed down the aisle. It was a stunning moment. Forgive me for not getting all of their names in here. I hope if you were there, you will leave your name below. I recognized, with the help of Chris Ward: Chef Ewald Scholz, Chef Christian Gerber, Chef Cherif Brahmi, Chef Didier Viriot, Jean Marie Cadot, Chef Louis Vacher, Chef Joe Garza, Chef Laurent Champalle, Chef David Brawley, Chef David Sokol, Chef Chris Ward, Chef Sharon Van Meter, Chef Pete Curley. Other notable names include Phil Vacarro, Anne and François Chandou, and Patrick Esquerre. Hedda Dowd and Jim Deibel both spoke. Deibel told the crowd how he entered the “French-only” kitchen at Oz and applied for a job while all the other chefs snickered. Dowd, a longtime friend of LaFont, gave a moving speech on LaFont’s character. He left home at 13 to become a butcher and worked his way up through every station in traditional brigade system kitchens of France. “He was a “complete chef,” she said. “He was a rôtisseur, a patissier, a saucier, a poissonnier. He could do it all. He was a chef whose presence was known the second he walked into a kitchen.” To paraphrase Dowd, Jean LaFont taught so many chefs how to cook, the ripple effect of his talent will be with us for a long time. LaFont is survived by seven children: Sonia, Stephanie, Jean-Luc, Mireille, Jean-Pierre, Magali, and Marise; four grandchildren, two sisters, and two former wives. And a huge community of food loving friends. The family will be checking this site. Please feel free to leave them a note. (Or correct my spelling!) Short video after jump. Continue reading "Funeral Services Held Today For Chef Jean LaFont"7 Comments »
One of Dallas’ most important chefs, Jean LaFont, passed away on Saturday. He was 72.
Services for Chef LaFont will take place on January 31 at 10:00AM at St. Monica Catholic Church at the corner of Midway and Walnut Hill.
UPDATE: SORRY FOR THE CONFUSION BUT THINGS HAVE CHANGED AGAIN: HERE IS THE RECENT UPDATE FROM THE FAMILY:
1. Service is being held at St. Monica Catholic Church, 9913 Midway Road, Dallas, TX, at 10:00, not 10:30.They are asking all chefs to wear their chef whites and hats to the service. They will be taking a picture of all chefs with a large picture of Chef Jean LaFont.
2. Reception is being held at Prestonwood Country Club, 5909 Preston Road, Dallas, TX, immediately following the service.
3. At this point there is not a specific area at Prestonwood Country Club, but they will direct you when you approach the front door. Chefs can change clothes if they choose.
4.. There will be a basket at the service for notes. Later today I will receive a mailing address for those of you who care to send notes to the family.
One of the finest and most influential chefs in Dallas, Jean LaFont, passed away late this afternoon. He was 72. According to his good friend and former student Mercury Chef Chris Ward, LaFont died from cancer which was detected around Christmas.
LaFont was a gentle, caring, immensely talented man who influenced many people during his 35 years in Dallas. There are many chefs and restaurateurs in Dallas who owe their careers to LaFont.
In the early 70s, Jean LaFont was working at the Rainbow Room in New York when he was lured to Dallas by Phil Vacarro to oversee his growing empire of restaurants that included Arthur’s, Old Warsaw, Les Saisons, and Mario’s. LaFont eventually moved to the Pyramid Room at the Fairmont Hotel and never-to-be-forgotten Oz in 1974. Over the years, LaFont continued to cook, consult, or both with many restaurants.
The only thing he failed to do successfully was retire. “When I see a restaurant I just always want to be in the kitchen,” LaFont said in a phone interview last year. “It’s very hard to let it go from your system.”
He tried to retire several times beginning in 2000 but he kept popping up in Dallas kitchens. In 2002, he took over at Le Rendezvous in Preston Royal. In October 2004, then Dallas Morning News Restaurant dining critic, Dotty Griffth wrote: “Venerable chef Jean LaFont has come back more often than Cher and Mickey Rooney combined. At least Mr. LaFont returns to what he knows and does best: fine French cuisine.”
Griffith was referring to LaFont’s, a restaurant in Addison he opened with Al Amadeus. Then came LaFont’s Steakhouse in the old Morton’s space in Addison. Between his travels, LaFont returned to Dallas and consulted on many high-profile restaurants. In 2003, Mico Rodriquez threw a party to honor names from the pantheon of Dallas dining: not only LaFont but also Riviera owner Franco Bertolasi, cellar master Tony LaBarba, chef George Patrice, chef Ewald Scholz, restaurateur Phil Vacarro, and chef Rene Weibel. D publisher Wick Allison wrote this account of the evening.
In D Magazine’s 30th Anniversary Issue (October 2004) I summarized the significant role LaFont played during his then 30-year career in Dallas restaurants. More specifically, his ability to take classical French cooking to another level when he was the executive chef of Oz in 1974:
41 Comments »
When Oz opened in the nosebleed country on LBJ, it changed everything. For the first time, you were where you ate. But behind the glitz and glamour of the tri-level, mirrored, neon-lit club, there was a serious kitchen, run by French chef Jean LaFont, that produced highly imaginative, mostly French-style food. We raved breathlessly about “quenelles so light they take your breath away.” Food became part of the definition of hip. And it’s been that way ever since.
Scott DeGraff, the man who launched the N9NE Group with Michael Morton died on Thanksgiving Day. DeGraff’s body was found in the garage of a home in east Aspen. An autopsy will be performed today to determine the official cause of death which police are calling an apparent suicide. DeGraff was 47.
DeGraff and Morton ran restaurants and nightclubs in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Dallas. They opened N9NE Steakhouse and Nove in Victory Park and Ghostbar in the W Hotel Dallas. Both N9NE and Nove closed. However, Ghostbar is still going strong. According to the Aspen Daily News, DeGraff moved to Aspen in late 2008 and hit financial problems.
What a strange coincidence: In September, Billy Reiger, one of the partners of Kenichi Dallas, also committed suicide in Aspen. Dallas Kenichi is just down the street from DeGraff’s businesses.5 Comments »
Early this morning Steve Hartnett lost his battle with prostate cancer. He was 61. Hartnett is best known as a restaurateur. He was a dynamic force behind Fox and Hound, Bailey’s Pub and Grille, Cool River Cafe, Flip’s Patio Grille, Winewood, and Mi Dia. Hartnett also owns the Bob’s Steak and Chop House in Grapevine. At one point, Hartnett owned over 200 restaurants. However, Hartnett considered designing and operating restaurants as a hobby. His “real day jobs” were futures trader and real estate developer.
I met Steve in 2002 when he was part of a group of restaurateurs I joined to travel to Uzbekistan where we prepared a steak dinner for 2,000 soldiers at an airbase outside of Karshi. The mission, headed by Harvey Gough, also included Gene Street, Rhett Stein, Tony Booth, Rob Holmes, and Robert Ozarow. The complete wacky story is here.
After a 6-hour layover at Bagram Airbase, 27 miles north of Kabul, Afghanistan, we took off for for Karshi. Fifteen minutes later, Bagram was attacked. Once we arrived at “K-2,” we lived in cargo containers and hung out with the first troops and Special Forces units sent to battle. On the evening of our dinner, Steve stood up and gave a patriotic toast to the officers in a private dining area. After he finished, he went over to the next tent and worked and visited every table to thank the soldiers for their service.
Hartnett was a consummate professional. He was generous with his restaurant employees, investors, and business staff. He was one of the nicest men I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. He was a perfectionist, a philosopher, and a true entrepreneur. Our condolences to his wife Sandy, son Taylor, and daughter Dionne. Services pending.4 Comments »
Ed Bamberger, a great lover of fine food, wine, and travel, died Sunday after a long battle with prostate cancer. According to his wife Mariann, Ed passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Ed described himself as “an easy-going people person.” He was active in the food and wine community and volunteered his time for events. Ed also organized Single Gourmet, an organization that brought single people together through special food-related events.
He also had a keen eye for grammatical errors. I got emails from him all the time notifying me of typos or broken links on SideDish.
A memorial service will take place in a few weeks. Ed, I’m not going to divulge your SideDish user name, but the brilliant observations you brought to our forum will be missed.
Feel free to leave messages to the family below. I will post details for the memorial when they are finalized.11 Comments »
I listen to a lot of public radio. A couple months ago, my home girl Terri Gross broadcast an interview on Fresh Air that focused on the logistical and ethical questions at play regarding growing meat from stem cells in a laboratory setting.
Before you jump to conclusions about real vs. lab-created meat, science writer Michael Specter, who traveled to laboratories in the Netherlands and North Carolina to examine the progress scientists have made in developing in vitro meat, is quick to point out that this is real meat. It’s real muscle cells, the same ones that live inside a real cow, minus the environmental bugbears such as pesticides, UV radiation, etc. (Specter wrote about the arguments in favor of lab-made steaks in the May 23 issue of The New Yorker.)
Even though the technology and global feasibility are still in development, I’d lay money on the fact that the technology’s not going to fade away. And being that this is Texas, this is a topic worth familiarizing ourselves with so that we can have a reasonable discussion about the technology’s pros and cons.
Pros: a reduction in animal cruelty and greenhouse gas emissions
Cons: You tell me. Especially in light of rising population numbers and the domino effect of socioeconomic and environmental pitfalls associated with feeding all those people.
Agriculture stats show that the largest share of Texas’ agricultural income is derived from beef cattle. Texas ranks #1 in the country in cattle raised—a number that can exceed 14 million head. That’s about 20 percent of the nation’s beef cattle.3 Comments »
The other day we talked about the Heart Attack Grill. Currently their are plans for the Arizona-based burger joint to open near the West End.The menu promotes huge portions, greasy burgers, and fries cooked in lard. This morning comes news that Blair River, the 575-pound spokesman for the blossoming chain, died yesterday from pneumonia after a bout with the flu. Perhaps they need to workshop their concept.5 Comments »
Chad Houser, chef at Parigi, is the president of Dallas Farmers Market Friends, the organization founded by Ida Papert. He asked his good friend Randy Potts to write a short piece about Mama Ida. “I didn’t really choose Ida, or intend to write a piece like this,” says Potts. “Houser asked me to write a couple paragraphs on her for the Friends but I pretty much fell in love with her in the process and wrote this as a sort of tribute, not really knowing if I’d ever do anything with it.”
So far only tentative plans for public services have been announced: They will be held at Temple Emanu-El on Monday, January 31st at 2 pm, but please confirm that time tomorrow morning here on SideDish or in the DMN.
Update: According to Mama Ida’s good friend Marsha Singer, the correct time for the service is 12:30 PM tomorrow.
Below is a tribute written by Randy Potts.
“Mama” Ida and the Friends of the Farmers Market: The Story of Dallas’ Favorite Locavore
Not every farmers market has a local matriarch, but the Dallas Farmers Market does, and her name is Ida Papert. Walking through the market on a Saturday morning, “Mama” Ida is greeted like royalty, hugged at almost every stall, her money often refused. She carries a bag around with her that says “Ida’s Gotta Have,” and this bag is full from the beginning of her shopping to the end. Her bag begins the shopping day filled with preserves she’s made from produce she bought at the market, and as she goes around distributing her little jars at each stall she is given something in return – tomatoes and spinach from Mr. Lemley, fresh eggs from Paul the Sweet Roasted Corn Man. On this particular Saturday, “Mama” Ida has made Red Pepper jelly, and sent me home with a jar as well.
I am so sad to report that Ida Papert passed away last night. Mama Ida has been a driving force behind the Dallas Farmers Market since the mid-50s. Her tireless efforts to make the Farmers Market a vibrant force in downtown Dallas are well-known among foodies, farmers, and bureaucrats alike. In 1991, she formed the Dallas Farmers Market Friends, an advocacy group that boasts more than 400 members, and, in 1993, she joined forces with the American Institute of Wine and Food to start cooking classes in the Market’s Shed No. 2.
Each summer the Dallas Farmers Market Friends hosts the Mama Ida’s Ice Cream Social. Local culinary students and kids from the Dallas County Youth Village are given local ingredients and a chance to compete for a cash prize. She was a tireless fighter for farmers and local ingredients. Personally, I can not imagine a world without Mama Ida. She was a dear friend and the most loving, giving person I’ve ever know.
Mama Ida, we will miss you. I think we should organize a effort to name one of the sheds after Mama Ida.8 Comments »