Tiffany Derry, the former Top Chef contestant who was left unemployed when Go Fish Ocean Club closed last month, has accepted the executive chef position at a new uptown restaurant.
Derry is now developing the menu for Private Social, the first restaurant from longtime Dallas wedding industry professional Andy Austin and Patrick Halbert. The owners are in the final stages of negotiation for a location on McKinney Avenue and hope to open by next summer.
The concept underlying the project is a dual price-point model, intended to appeal to groups who have trouble agreeing on a restaurant. That's a problem that's long plagued Austin's wide circle of friends, which includes millionaires and struggling job-seekers.
"Some of us want to go to Abacus, some of us want to go to Taco Bell," he says.
So at Private Social -- which may go by the nickname "P.S." -- the "private" end of the restaurant will offer a chef-driven menu in a quiet dining room while the "social" area will feature louder music and a menu with "nothing over $10." But the menus will be printed back-to-back so "private" diners can order burgers and "social" eaters can feast on whatever Derry decides to serve.
"The reason we wanted a Tiffany Derry is so she could say 'this is the type of food we should do'," Austin says. "We don't know the food. She's going to pick it all."
Austin imagines the cuisine will stay true to "American nouvelle," with steaks and seafood available.
"As we work on the menu, there's a chance we might focus on seafood, but I don't think it's going to be an Italian restaurant," Austin says.
Derry, who was hired two weeks ago, has just started staging tasting sessions for the managing partners.
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Austin says he wants to keep the menu crisp, with no more than six or seven entrees on each side of the menu.
"My favorite restaurant in Dallas is Local, and one of the things I love is you don't have to flip through eight pages," Austin says of the Deep Ellum restaurant's well-edited menu.
Austin says after two years of research, he feels ready to leap into the food-and-beverage business.
"I hate to say it's a dream of mine, but, technically, I've wanted to do this since I was 18," he says.