Pots on Fire

So this story in The Dallas Morning News says via a Census Bureau report that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita flushed some 350,000 people out of Louisiana. It also says 140,000 of those landed in Houston and that Dallas absorbed another 70,000. One of those 70k is Averriel Thomas, front man for Sharon Hage's York Street. How'd he end up there?

Thomas was managing partner at Smith & Wollensky in New Orleans. He got out of the Big Easy with his wife and three kids the day before the storm and made his way to Dallas, where the Smith & Wollensky folks here put up his crew in a hotel. And Thomas brings with him a colorful culinary past. He was captain at Commander's Palace for some 14 years from way back, circa 1979. He's worked at Emeril's. He did a stint at Susan Spicer's Herbsaint. This is where he met Sharon Hage. This is why he looked her up after he figured Smith & Wollensky probably wouldn't reopen (the Smith & Wollensky folks say the restaurant is closed for good). Hage offered him the job.

"I said, 'Look, if I can fit down this hallway to the bathroom, I'll come on board,'" Thomas says. "You know that hallway to the bathroom, man, is pretty tight. And I'm not the tiniest person in the world." He fit, and Thomas got stuck in Dallas. "I'm here for good," he says. "It's huge. New Orleans is compact, even with the outskirts."

Thomas just sold his Big Easy house last Friday, which is a relief because he's scouring Addison, Frisco and North Dallas for his own place, one that will feature Deep South cooking--"done right," he says. He will call it Pot au Feu, or Pots on Fire, "It's an art of cooking where you cook several meals in one pot." Which is why the halls and doorways will be wide. --Mark Stuertz

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