If ever there were a week for a foodie to pick up a print copy of the Observer, this is that week. Editor Joe dropped the proof of Lauren Drewes Daniels' cover story on my desk last week, and I devoured the story beginning to end on the spot. In addition to some great portraiture, the piece uses disparate voices to tell a consistent tale: that the Dallas dining scene is perched on a precipice, and if we all fall off the edge together we might land on a very exciting collective dining culture. It's compelling stuff.
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A common theme throughout the chef's responses were references to camaraderie and the new guard. Many chefs articulated a desire to see more interaction among Dallas' top toques; I hope that comes to fruition. Jay Jerrier's industry night, which invites area chefs to come bang out pizza pies, is a great example of cross pollination. Bar 828 was a temporary event that fostered interaction within the mixology community to great success. Now we need to see more.
The new guard refers to a number of small-time, hyper-driven chefs who have peeled away from the large-scale model that's made Dean Fearing, Kent Rathburn and other big-time chefs a lot of money. These new toques are opening small, passionate, high-quality neighborhood restaurants that buck the corporate dining trend that has dominated Dallas' scene. They're cooking with heart and passion on a small scale, and the results are bustling restaurants and memorable meals. Dallas needs more of this, too.
The recipe for a great restaurant is simple, calling for great ingredients, great execution both in the consistent handling of those ingredients and the service that brings them to the table, and some sort of theme or tone gives the restaurant an identity. This exists in pockets all over Dallas right now. We just need to thread the pieces together into a cohesive experience that defines our dining culture. We also need a lot more of them.
I hope we get there. Reading LDD's cover story makes me think that we will. It's just a matter of how long it will take.