The Dallas Chef Who Went From Underground Dinners to a Brick-and-Mortar, Then Back Underground

Chef David Anthony Temple was famous for his underground dinners — but when he tried to take his venture "above ground," it all fell apart.
Chef David Anthony Temple was famous for his underground dinners — but when he tried to take his venture "above ground," it all fell apart.
File photo

About two months after closing his brick-and-mortar restaurant, David Anthony Temple is ready to go back underground in Dallas.

“I’ll never leave underground behind; it’s always going to be there,” he says.

Chef Temple, whom you may know as Chef DAT, started underground dinners in Dallas in December 2009. He planned a dinner at an undisclosed location, and those on an email list got the invite.

That business was successful enough that he was traveling around the country doing underground dinners and eventually felt the need to open his own restaurant. He opened Twenty-Seven in Deep Ellum in January 2015.

“It was different because [the underground] had mystique: People didn’t know where we were having dinner, we weren’t very available," Temple, 32, says. "It’s like you’re courting someone, and they’re not really available, you want them more. When we opened the restaurant, we just became another restaurant on the list.”

When he was underground, he says, he could pay someone to take the plates of the food he cooked from the kitchen to the dining table. The rest — the prepping, logistics, cooking, discussing – was on him.

Twenty Seven in Deep Ellum was Temple's attempt to take his underground dining series above ground. The cozy spot was open for just over a year.
Twenty Seven in Deep Ellum was Temple's attempt to take his underground dining series above ground. The cozy spot was open for just over a year.
Twenty Seven

“Above ground,” he was looking at employing and relying on multiple people to be there all the time. Money became an issue.

“Our staff was always great, the quality of food was good, very creative. … It needed more capital than it had,” he says. “It was difficult, but it was kind of fun. And I’m at a point now where I’m OK that it’s done and looking forward to the next chapter.”

Temple's next chapter, he says, might be in Dallas, or it could be with other opportunities in San Francisco or New Orleans. It could even take him farther south to Mexico or Costa Rica.

“I’d like to run a B&B,” Temple says. “Just cook breakfast in the morning; if they need me to tour them around the island or whatever, or beach, I’ll do that; surfing lessons, I can do that. That’d be fun. If they wanted dinner, I could do that, too. It would be an option thing. So it would be a fun life, relaxing and cool.”

He does know he’ll be kicking off the underground dinners again in September, staying in Dallas through at least February.

“And then it will be decision time,” he says


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