Grant Morgan is easing into his new job this week at Bailey's Prime Plus, the local chain of upscale steakhouses. Carrying the title of executive chef at not one but three locations has the toque busy learning the names and strengths of new employees as well as new customers. I called Morgan to see how the new gig is treating him, and how he plans handle the transition.
"For the most part I spend my time on the line, you know, working with each cook on each station," he told me, "getting to know the guys, their capabilities, what we're currently doing, how we're currently doing it."
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Grant will focus his time at the Park Lane location, but his new menu will eventually push out to all the restaurants. He says his menu will continue to resonate with diners who have come to know the Bailey's Prime brand, but he's also looking to put his own spin on things, focusing on seasonality and a few dishes to lighten things up. Simple fish and other gently handled lean proteins will help keep the menu from seeming to heavy. "The kind of dishes my wife would enjoy," he says.
When asked what principles govern his menu choices, Morgan indicated a menu that shifts with ingredients as they come in and out of peak season. "My stand when it comes to food and a menu is you want to get the best product you can. Maybe it's [the menu] not changed four times a year, maybe two to three times a year." This isn't the kind of cooking that presents return diners with a brand new set of choices every day, but it is indicative of a restaurant that won't make the blunder of serving grilled asparagus in August or a fresh tomato salad on a winter menu.
Before Bailey's Prime, Morgan spent time in a few notable restaurants in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Vail and most recently at Hotel ZaZa's Dragonfly. I asked him if he'd cooked anything notable for any celebrities. He immediately blurted out Ozzy Ozborne. "He asked for a dozen English scones," Morgan said. Apparently the
stoner rocker was impressed because he repeated the order each day of his stay before asking for another dozen to take on the road.
Bailey's menu is still mostly old guard, but you should start seeing Morgan's influence soon, with the new menu phased in completely by fall.