Kitchen LTO, the innovative "permanent pop-up restaurant" that set up shop in Trinity Groves last year, has helped some of the city's most promising up-and-coming chefs hone their skills. As current Kitchen LTO chef Eric Shelton's control of the restaurant comes to an end on May 31, the restaurant is now on the hunt for a brand new chef.
Five worthy contenders stand to inherit the restaurant helmed by Shelton and his predecessor, Norman Grimm. Each bring a unique set of experiences and cuisines to the table, but only one can emerge as the victor. In the style of sportsball, we've put together this handy list to help you place your bets for the contender that will be chosen on May 12.
Chef Brooke Egger In her last stint, at Santa Barbara, California's Village Modern Foods, Egger became known as the "Renegade Chef," most likely due to her disdain for kitchen gadgets and love of wild game. Egger told The Santa Barbara Independent in March that she was planning to head to Texas for a pop-up dinner with Eric Shelton, but it looks as if those plans might be shelved as she competes for the next spot at Kitchen LTO. Egger also appeared on the Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen, where she took third but was eliminated for putting a "little too many habaneros in the English guy's soup."
Spicy food won't hold Egger back in Dallas, and the focus on wild game would be an interesting addition to the Dallas food scene. The only thing that could work against her is the fact that she isn't from Dallas, but that's just silly.
Chef Fitzgerald Dodd Dodd has been in the Dallas culinary scene for some time. He's worked in some of the city's best kitchens, alongside chefs like Stephan Pyles and Kent Rathbun. Dodd opened his own well-reviewed restaurant, Screen Door in One Arts Plaza, but it closed abruptly in 2012. Currently, he's a utility cook at Amberjax Seafood Grille. Dodd's cuisine is heavy on traditional Southern soul food with a touch of gourmet fanciness.
Dodd's a known entity in the Dallas culinary scene, which could play for or against him. He's also got serious chops, which can't hurt. According to his LinkedIn profile, Dodd was once employed by the Miami Heat's Chris Bosh, so he's doing something right.
Chef Rosanne Dileo DiLeo's most recent post in a Dallas kitchen at The Libertine Bar, serving up some of the city's best bar food. She also spent some time managing the recently shuttered Dallas favorite The Slip Inn. DiLeo's reputation in Dallas, where she's known as "Roe," could be a huge benefit in helping her win over voters.
DiLeo may be at a disadvantage. With no formal culinary education, it might be difficult to compete with the other chef finalists with extensive training in technique and diverse culinary experiences. DiLeo might be the underdog, but I wouldn't be surprised if her crowd-pleasing menus didn't give her a good chance.
Scott Townend Before starting a private chef and catering business, Scott Townend was a common figure behind the scenes in the Dallas restaurant world. Between working at Tom Colicchio's now-extinct Craft and an extremely short stint as executive chef at The Front Room in the Lumen Hotel, Townend worked in Washington, DC, New York and St. Lucia. Most recently, he's provided menu consulting for LARK on the Park and other restaurants across the country.
Townend may be the sleeper. His vast experience in a variety of different kitchens should provide a leg-up over some of the finalists. Unfortunately, he's still an unknown quantity to diners, unlike some of the more familiar chefs on this list.
Chef Daniel Tarasevich Breadth of experience is something Tarasevich has in spades. After cooking in Georgia, Florida, and California, Tarasevich settled in Dallas with his wife. Since moving here, he's got experience at Royal Oaks Country Club, since-closed Charlie Palmer, and Tillman's Roadhouse in Fort Worth under his belt, all in a very short time. Terasevich currently serves as executive chef in The Westin Galleria's Second Floor Restaurant, where he completely revamped a dated menu.
Tarasevich certainly has the culinary chops and experience with the Dallas dining scene to help expand the Kitchen LTO concept to a broader clientele. He may not have the star power that some of these other chefs have, but Tarasevich's food will speak for itself.
Kitchen LTO will announce the winner of the new pop-up restaurant on May 12. If you want to be a part of this big decision, there's still time to grab a ticket to the Kitchen LTO 3.0 reveal party on May 4. You'll get to watch a "live reveal" of the contestants, sample their menus, and check out the new interior design. Online voting starts after that event and continues through May 10. The winner will be announced May 12.