Food News

The City of Ate Interview: Union Bear's John Kleifgen

Dallas native John Kleifgen took his first job at a restaurant as a teenager because a gig carrying mulch at Calloway's didn't provide much entertainment. So, when a friend told him about a kitchen job for the Lakewood Country Club, he weighed his options and wisely chose a country club scene instead. After high school he dabbled in college at Texas Tech, then headed off to culinary school at the CIA in New York.

After graduating, he worked in Boston for four years at L'Espalier and Sal de la Terre, then after returning home to Texas, had a quick stint at The Office, which didn't work out so well. Now he's with the Spillers Group as chef of their new spot Union Bear.

How did you like going to school in New York? Living in the Hudson Valley is cool because the produce is amazing. Here we don't have seasons - except football, Christmas and summer. Although we do have some advantages here that they don't have up north, like much longer growing seasons. But, the Hudson Valley is a basically a giant salad basket for the city. Every great food has something. France has the Loire Valley, San Francisco has Napa and Sonoma, New York has the Hudson Valley.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.