The Year/The Decade: People Who Shook Things Up

We started off thinking about innovators, but...well, sometimes innovation comes in the form of foams, deconstruction or other overwrought foods and we didn't really want to dwell on the subject.

But there are always people who shake things, either by nudging us just a little or grabbing the city for a full-throttle neck-snapper.

As always, there are many worthy options. Eddie Cervantes introduced Dallas to the current patio idea and carried it through the 2000s, though he started us on this journey well before the decade began. Some of the usual suspects come to mind, of course, as do the folks behind West Village, Legacy and other still-viable developments.

Probably the people who introduced $1 sushi deserve something--the thanks of the Krab industry, at the very least.

So again, we picked a few representative shakers, large and small...

People who shook us up in 2009:

1. Leslie Brenner
We liked Bill Addison. But Brenner's approach--direct and hard-ass, as well as knowledgeable--brought a new attitude to the Dallas Morning News. A friend of ours who bartends at Idle Rich smiles about reviews that "take down the safe names" while restaurateurs privately use the 'B' word when speaking about her. Good signs, both. Hopefully the paper's advertiser-friendly stance doesn't put an end to this.

2. Tim Byres
Many chefs explore a bit before taking on a new challenge. Byres set off across the old south in search of age-old wood oven cooking techniques. OK, few other restaurants are likely to follow suit--the learning curve can be steep and control becomes a little more uncertain--but it's nice to have a little "blast from the past."

3. The Andres Brothers
Yeah, yeah--their real work along Henderson Avenue occurred in previous years. But we had others in mind for the "Decade" section and their attempt to turn the corner this year, to "Hendersonize" Lower Greenville, shows that sometimes, when you shake things, nothing rattles.

People who shook us up in the 00s:

1. Teiichi Sakurai
There was sushi. Then Sakurai introduced the city to Kobe beef, long before steakhouses caught on. He taught people about the full range of Japanese dining with Tei Tei Robata Bar, Teppo and most recently Tei An. Sakurai took Dallas beyond the basics, from meat seared on hot stones to the beauty of soba noodles.

2. Feargal McKinney
As Dallas was entering into its chill lounge phase, McKinney went the other direction. He opened a series of European-style pubs. Beer havens, sure--but also stocked with good spirits and solid kitchen staffs. Nothing unusual about the concept, except he made it all work, no matter whether it was on Greenville, in Uptown or on Henderson.

3. Avner Samuel
He's run several places--one's most people won't remember. But in the early 2000s he opened Aurora. Expensive, yes. Exquisite, yes--but we've seen all that before. What made it different was his insistence on following the standards you find in restaurants bearing three Michelin stars.

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Dave Faries
Contact: Dave Faries

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