Craft's Jeff Harris on East Texas Barbecue And The Delights of the Offal
(Yesterday, we brought you a profile of Jeff Harris, executive chef at Craft in the W Hotel. Today, we throw a few questions at the chef and tomorrow bring you a how-to on one of the restaurant's dishes.)
Photo by Robert Bostick Craft's Jeff Harris
CofA: What is your ideal meal?
Harris: Something simple off the grill -- dining on the patio in beautiful weather with good friends and good wine.
CofA: What three items do you always have in your refrigerator at home?
Harris:Beer, yogurt, fresh fruit
CofA: What do you serve the vegetarian guest?
Harris:Our menu is a la carte so we have from 10 to 14 vegetables on the menu at all times. We usually have a vegetarian risotto or pasta as well.
CofA: Where do you dine in NYC and in East Texas?
Harris: I love going to Chinatown for dim sum. There are so many great restaurants in New York City, but the stuff I really miss about living there are the hot dogs, pizza, street food, etc. In East Texas I like going to get barbecue at either Bodacious Barbecue [Tyler] or Country Tavern [Kilgore] for their ribs.
CofA: New fall menu, what do you see as the hot trend?
Harris: Not really sure about a hot trend. We cook seasonally, so I am excited to see some of the fall and winter stuff. Ingredients like Brussels sprouts, Jerusalem artichokes, game birds, venison, chanterelle mushrooms, and great apples.
CofA: What is the oddest customer request you have had lately?
Harris: Being in a hotel we get a lot of special requests, but we are here to please the guests and make sure we provide them with an amazing experience. For the sake of our guests privacy I can't go into extreme detail, but we did get a request the other day that involved chocolate. I will leave the rest to the imagination.
CofA: Describe a great item on your menu that not many people take advantage of, but you love.
Harris: Sweetbreads. I love offal meat.
CofA: Best secret ethnic restaurant in Dallas?
Harris: I had a really good lunch at Bangkok City the other day.
CofA: What is the worst dish you have tasted?
Harris: I'm not a big fan of durian. The combination of the smell and texture was not very appealing.
CofA: What was your worst kitchen disaster?
Harris: In the middle of a super busy dinner service at Craft in New York I dropped a huge pot of sweet potato puree on the floor and it literally splattered everywhere! I was trying to clean it up and pick up like 10 tables at the same time. Not so fun.
CofA: Who would you like to see from Dallas in Top Chef next season?
Harris: Scott Romano [Charlie Palmer]. I think he would do really well.
CofA: If you could master one sport what would it be?
CofA: What is the best music to cook by?
Harris: Ray LaMontagne or Kings of Leon.