Chef Mike Smith on The Green Room, The Beard House and Rumors of Ghosts
The Common Table chef Mike Smith has been kind enough to play along with us this week in our Three-Course Meal series. In Part One, he divulged some of his favorite hangouts and dives. In Part Two he imparted knowledge gained after two decades in the restaurant business. And today, in the final part of our interview, we look back at The Green Room, The James Beard House and ownership.
Chef Mike Smith in front of the James Beard House.
How did The Green Room transform the food scene in Dallas?
In 1994 when the Green Room opened there was possibly nothing like it in the country and definitely not Dallas. It was a music-based fine dining restaurant where on any given night a high-powered attorney would be dining next to a tattooed and pierced local band member. The vision of Whit Meyers redefined what a gourmet dining experience in Dallas could be. Bringing Chris Pyun as chef with his background at Le Cirque and Daniel gave the food instant and deserved credibility. The place spawned untold numbers of chefs, managers and wine people that helped to shape the current culinary scene in Dallas.
I've heard rumors ... do you think The Green Room is haunted?
There were always stories and rumors about bumps in the night after closing, but who knows? I'll say if it wasn't back then, it probably is now!
What do you think about the restaurant scene in Deep Ellum now?
There are a few people trying to resurrect Deep Ellum, but I don't think it's possible to re-create what it once was.
Do you miss owning your own place?
I don't miss ownership very often. It was hard for me to have to answer to someone after so many years when I didn't. But, the ownership at The Common Table is great, and I've gained their trust to know I'll make the right decisions in the kitchen. I definitely do not miss the headaches of day-to-day ownership. It's still my reputation on every plate so I don't approach my duties any differently than when I was an owner.
In 2005 the James Beard Foundation recognized you for your work at your restaurant 2900 and invited you to cook at their Father's Day luncheon. What did that mean to you?
It's an honor most American chefs strive for.
And here is the recipe for the Grilled Boston Salad with Warm Blue Cheese and Bacon Dressing Chef Mike Smith served at Beard House luncheon.