10 Questions: Joel Harloff

He cooked professionally for six years in Milwaukee before finally taking a break...to study at the Culinary Institute of America.

Harloff then headed a string of highly rated restaurants in Wisconsin before heading south. Since arriving in Dallas just over a decade ago, he's developed quite a legacy, including a "rising star" award from the Dallas Morning News for his work at Mi Piaci. While serving as executive chef of the Melrose Hotel's Landmark Restaurant, he was one of the few chefs to earn five stars from the daily paper.

Last year, Harloff shifted gears, settling into the small--but equally acclaimed--Dali Wine Bar. He may be the best non-celebrity chef in Dallas, but he'll never shake his Wisconsin roots. Which means be wary of wearing a Bears jersey in One Arts Plaza...

1. Why cook?
Why order? Man, I don't know. Great food just makes everything better.

2. For a chef, what's the difference between a big operation and a small one?
In a big place there's more team to the team. In a "small" operation, the chef becomes the team. And from a financial standpoint, it has to be that way.

3. Is there a dish you find difficult to cook?
I screw up making pralines. I burn the sugar, every single time. I Can't get it right. Good thing sugar is cheap. It's not like I'm messing up foie gras terrine.

4. So how does a Midwesterner wind up in Dallas?
You get tired of shoveling snow for 26 years. Tiger Woods was born with a golf club in his hands. I was born with a snow shovel in mine. I couldn't stand it.

5. Wisconsin and Minnesota--aren't they pretty much the same thing?
No--I'm trying to think of the difference, though. Oh-in Wisconsin, it's "hey dere," in Minnesota it's "ya dere." That's a big difference. I can pick Minnesotans out in a crowd.

6. Why do you guys hate the Bears so much?
We call people from Illinois "FIBs" [Fucking Illinois Bastards]. When people travel up and down the freeway near the border, there's more bird-flipping concentrated in that one area than anywhere else in the world. 'Hey dere, back to Illinois, you FIB.' I don't know what they call us.

7. Does your family have Packers' tickets?
A cousin does--season tickets--so, yes. They aren't mine, though.

8. Could you sell fried walleye here?
I tried at the Melrose and it didn't work. A fish fry doesn't fly in Dallas.

9. We all know happy cows come from California. Do they make better cheese?
If they're happy, it might be because they have better looking women pulling on their udders.

10. Would you rather hang out with Fonzie or Lenny and Squiggy?
I'd have to go with Fonzie. Lenny and Squiggy never did anything on that show. Fonzie, that's obvious.

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Dave Faries
Contact: Dave Faries