Food News

Jean-Marie Cadot: Building a Strong Foundation

Yesterday, we gave you the goods on Jean-Marie Cadot, owner and executive chef of Cadot. Today, we asked Cadot to finish a few sentences for us. Tomorrow, he shares one of his recipes. (Cadot's words are after the ellipses.)

I was raised in...Paris

My friends say I'm...a hard worker. They would say, "He loves what he does." It's not work. It's your vocation. You have to love what you do. I'm here from 8 a.m. to close. I was born in this business. I was born with pots and pans.

My momma told me...she tell me many things. Always use the best ingredients. She's a very good cook and a very good artist. All of the paintings in here are hers.

If I had 24 hours to live I'd...make sure I go and get a nice dinner with friends and just enjoy and sit with some friends and family and have a beautiful dinner, you know?

["Would you cook the meal?" I asked. "I would not mind cooking it," Cadot replied. And then he added, "Yes, of course."]

If I could go anywhere, I'd go...I would like to travel in different parts of the world and try different cuisines. I would like to try the Asiatic parts of the world. I do like Asian food. When I get tired of French food, I like Asian food. I go to Yao Fuzi. I've never been trained in Asian cooking. But I use ginger and sometimes soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.

Cat or dog...Dog, but I have two cats at home. My dog passed away last year. It's like having another child. I had been raised with dogs, hunting dogs, when I was a kid. I don't have time for a dog now. But it can be a dog, a hamster, a bird, or a cat, they always come to me. It must be the food. [He laughs.] I'm allergic to cats and dogs. But I get used to it.

The CD I couldn't do without...I love music and can listen to anything depending on the mood. Classical, jazz, rock, whatever the mood. If I want to go back in time, I listen to French music. But not heavy metal. And rap is not my piece of cake. But you can find some that's OK.

I relax...with a glass of wine. French wine.

If I weren't for cooking, I would be...I used to have so many different hobbies. Gardening, hunting, fishing, yachting, bike riding. But now I'm so tired to do anything. I just do some basic gardening. I used to fix things in the house. The restaurant takes all my energy.

The biggest difference between living here and living in France is...You know the most difficult thing in the country is to find the right balance. To open any kind of business is difficult. It takes two to three years to settle in. Before you delegate, you need to find the right people and set up a system. This is not a small place. We seat 180 with the outside.

The kitchen tool I could not live without is...a very good blender

My favorite kitchen tool is...I have so many toys. So it depends what kind of mood I'm in.

The best gift I ever received was...These days we get so spoiled. Sometimes it can be very simple. My mandolin, because I'm still using it today. I got it when I was 16. My dad bought it for me. And, she's not here anymore, but I still use the rolling pin of my grandmother. It's 100 years old. Telling people that puts everyone in a different dimension.

Dallas diners expect...They are very interested in service. When I opened Cadot, I put a lot of my personality in it and I bring diners to another dimension. I come visit the tables. My niche is not necessarily a 5-star restaurant. I want people to feel comfortable, to relax, to enjoy the experience.

I've been here in Dallas for 20 or more years. I have customers who travel the world who were telling me, "We love your restaurant. We were in France and had onion soup and coq au vin and yours is better."

A cuisine with this experience was missing. With all the restaurants in DFW, there are not many like us. We are becoming a neighborhood and a destination restaurant. You have to look at the whole picture. They bring friends. They come back.

It's teamwork. I have a good staff. You can build a house in three months or you can build a house in three years, depending how strong you build the foundation. You can't build Paris in a day.

I do chicken wings and sliders for happy hour. I do Dover sole at $43. Truffles at $150. You have to give what customers want. Pizza and hamburgers at bar. Truffle and fois gras in the restaurant. One day a customer comes in for a burger and the next day for lobster.

Our clientele is so diversified, from all different countries. Some nights we have so many Italians. Others more Canadians or Asians. It's fun, you know? I've never had this feeling before.

I could have a better notoriety and review if I was more south. I would be more recognized. But I live in Plano and have teenagers. We live and work in a five-mile radius. Living on top of a restaurant for 15 years in Europe, in the morning, I could just go downstairs and get croissant and chocolate.

The changes I'd like to see in the Dallas dining scene are... a different rating system. I don't know if we need to put stars or what. But we are trying very hard to do something and what we're doing now doesn't make any sense. You can have a four-star restaurant with a bad review or a three-star restaurant with a good one. We need to find a way because it's very frustrating now for customers and chefs. It would make a big difference if we had different categories for privately owned restaurants and chain restaurants. I just don't look at [the ratings], I just focus on what I do best. My stars are the customers. You fill the restaurant and pay the bills.

In the future...It's hard to tell. You know what you have today. But in 10 or 20 years things change. I'd like to smell the flowers. The future is scary. I love what I do. But I get burned out. You see what we're doing to the planet. It's very hard to predict today. I'd like to enjoy and relax after putting the kids in college. So 10 or 15 years from now? I don't know. I just opened this restaurant and people are already asking me about the next one. And I say, "Let me do this one right first."

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Jenny Block