For all of the fit-throwing, cursing, and discussion about food critics in Dallas, we've kind of lost sight of the fact that John Tesar is actually an incredible chef. The controversy surrounding you-know-who's three-star review of Tesar's second Dallas restaurant Knife may have died down, but the hype for his "modern steakhouse" has only just begun.
Yesterday, Esquire held its annual Best New Restaurants In America awards, and Knife was the sole finalist from Dallas. This is Tesar's second appearance on the list: His seafood restaurant in Preston Center, Spoon, was a winner in 2013. Clearly, Tesar and his utensil-themed restaurants have dazzled both food critics in Esquire's employ over the past two years.
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Esquire critic Josh Ozersky has been relatively vocal of his support for Dallas' favorite snarky chef. After the feud with Brenner, Ozersky penned an "anonymous open letter" that strongly supported Tesar's position that she wielded too much power in Dallas. If you look at Tesar's menu, you'll find that the love is mutual -- the star of his burger program at Knife is named after the critic.
In reporting the win, Ozersky notes that Tesar's vision for Knife represents the "steakhouse of the future," which largely centers around his insistence on sourcing local grass-fed beef. "Knife has made good on a promise that we have been hearing about for years: that we could eat local beef that was as delicious as the best grain-fed commodity Prime from the Great Plains," something that anyone who enjoys good beef can get behind.
Oddly, Ozersky also notes that Tesar has "maintained a reputation as one of the city's most high-powered luxury chefs" for the past 20 years. Tesar has only been in Dallas since starting his gig at The Mansion in 2006, so he's hardly been influencing the local cuisine for two decades. We're all for giving John Tesar his due, but he's still working on becoming one of Dallas' iconic chefs.
The typically talkative Tesar has been mum since the announcement other than tweeting a few articles about the win, which may have something to do with the way that he feels about awards in general. In an interview with Tesar earlier this year, we pointedly asked the chef if he thought that Knife was one of the "best new restaurants in America," and his response was much more nonchalant than one might think. "Who cares? If it is, great," he said. "For years, I was chasing three-star reviews or five-star reviews, chasing Beard awards. Now I don't give a shit? It's like I'm under a pile of them."