10 Questions: Michael Weinstein

About a year ago he came up with the idea for a line of all natural salsas, often using fruit. It happened by accident, but now Dread Head Chef products--including dessert chips--fills shelves at Green Spot and Jimmy's Food Store.

Not bad for a brand new company. Of course, Weinstein had a head start thanks to years cooking at The Grape, Tramontana, Aurora and other local destinations.

He knows how to cook and he's learning to run a business. For some reason, however, he couldn't resist a mid-life change in hair style...

1. Do you miss professional kitchens?
No [laughs]. I guess the camaraderie is nice, but I don't miss the Friday and Saturday nights. I have a life again.

2. Why play around with salsa?
That's the chef in me. You know, people will--what's the word?--deconstruct things. I put salsa in quotation marks.

3. And chips? Aren't Lay's good enough?
No. But again, that's just me playing around. A year ago I didn't think I'd have my own company, so there's not a lot of thought, I just start creating. I happens by accident.

4. Do you have a favorite restaurant salsa?
I don't know. That's tough. The one I buy in grocery stores is Arriba.

5. OK, so why does a 40 year old suddenly get dreadlocks?
[Laughs] That's like a whole page. There are a lot of reasons and unless you have them, it's hard to understand why. It was just something I wanted to do years ago and it fits my life. It's not like a mid-life crisis. I haven't bought a Harley or anything.

6. Are you surprised to see the growth of natural, organic and sustainable foods?
I think it's neat. People are into it. They are watching what they eat a little more. You know, I don't buy organic all the time. I love foie gras, but in moderation. What's great is that people spend time to look at labels and understand what they're buying.

7. Do you think it's more than just a fad?
I think it will last. I think there's a big effort to get Americans to eat healthier and smarter. Other cultures are used to different regional foods and we'd lost touch with that.

8. Is there a type of restaurant that's missing from Dallas?
Something casual, where the food is killer without being $45 on the plate. I like prix fixe menus. And there aren't enough vegetarian menus at regular restaurants.

9. As a kid, did you like frosted or unfrosted  Pop Tarts?
Never really ate them. They were never in the house. Oh, but when I did, it was frosted. The other kind are too dry. When was the last time I had Pop Tarts?

10. What's the best music venue in Dallas?
I was there the other night--Granada. It's a cool place.


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