How The Grape Chef Sarah Snow Keeps Things Moving, and Changing, at a Dallas Institution

Categories: Interviews

Courtesy The Grape
Sarah Snow, Executive Chef at The Grape

As we've mentioned, 2014 has been the year of the young, up-and-coming chef in Dallas. The old guard continue to be successful in our city's food scene, but it's the youngsters who have really driven this period of innovation and revival in Dallas cuisine. Sometimes that innovation doesn't even have to come from opening a hot new restaurant. Even the city's most beloved dining institution is open to a little change.

Earlier this year, The Grape's Brian Luscher stepped aside from running the kitchen at the Greenville Avenue restaurant and handed over the reins to former chef de cuisine, Sarah Snow. Snow has quickly risen through the ranks in her time in some of Dallas' best kitchens, but scoring the executive chef job at The Grape earlier this year has really given her room to grow. I sat down to talk with Snow about working with the inimitable Brian Luscher, keeping things fresh at the 30-year-old restaurant, and her lightening-fast ascent from line cook to executive chef.


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Where Rising Chef Michael Ehlert Dines Out in Dallas

Categories: Interviews

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Catherine Downes
Who could blame Michael Ehlert for wanting to eat a dish like this all the time?
Chef Michael Ehlert is a pretty simple guy. Even though the food he's cooking at Front Room Tavern is rapidly becoming some of the most refined in the city, that doesn't mean he's dining on foie gras and steaks every night. Even chefs occasionally need a break from all that rich, fancy stuff.

He's also damn busy. Outside of running his newly-opened, four-star restaurant in Highland Park's Hotel Lumen, Ehlert became a father about six months ago, and that can seriously cramp your dining-out style. When he does find the time to eat out, you can find him at these eight Dallas restaurants.

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An Interview With Michael Ehlert, Chef of the Revamped and Four-Star Front Room Tavern

Categories: Interviews

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Kevin Marple, via the restaurant
We are officially well into Dallas' renaissance as a destination for excellent food. Still, there are very few restaurants that meet the only star system in town's criteria for four stars, and a five-star rating is even more rare. Amidst the chefs versus critic debacle that has dominated the food community for the last few months, Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner has awarded the coveted four-star rating to Hotel Lumen's Front Room Tavern and its chef, Michael Ehlert. Our own critic gushed about it too.

See also: In the Park Cities, the Flailing Front Room Finds its Way. Will it Stick?

As a relative newcomer to the Dallas food scene, Ehlert has quickly made an impression. Just one day after The Dallas Morning News' review was released, I sat down to talk with Ehlert about his thoughts on the praise, handling the ghosts of restaurants past, and his ascent from flour-covered pizza chef to one of Dallas' brightest rising stars.

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How Bisous Bisous Owner Andrea Meyer Finally Ditched IT to Follow Her Passion: Baking

Categories: Interviews

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Andrea Meyer from Bisou Bisou
Regular shoppers at White Rock Local Market will likely recognize Bisous Bisous Patisserie. Owner Andrea Meyer has been setting up a tiny shop of sorts amongst the tables of farm-fresh produce there since the start of the season. Meyer's table is often loaded with freshly baked French goods -- croissants and pain au chocolat -- and a tower of macarons that presides over it all.

It's a site to behold for any lover of baked goods, but there is one small problem. The best part of buying a croissant, or any other French pastry, is the aroma that hits you when you walk through a bakery door. At the farmers market those smells are whisked away on a breeze, if the smoke from Brian Luscher's hot dogs doesn't overwhelm them first. A sensory experience was missing.

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An Interview With Ser's Anthony Van Camp, One of Dallas' Up-and-Coming Chefs

Categories: Interviews

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via Ser Steak + Spirits
Young but wise.
To be called a chef is to have earned respect in the culinary world -- or at least that's the way it used to be. Now, more and more people who have attended culinary school and cooked in a restaurant for a few years are champing at the bit to designate themselves a chef, or worse, a goddamn "celebrity chef." Sometimes, though, there is a young chef who stands out amongst his peers, and quickly rises through the ranks because he's actually really good behind the line.

Anthony Van Camp is one of those guys who quickly earned the title of "chef," but not without a lot of hard work. After rising through the ranks under Anthony Bombaci at the Hilton Anatole's storied (and now shuttered) restaurant Nana, Van Camp quickly became executive chef of Ser Steak + Spirits when the hotel decided to remodel the formerly Italian restaurant into a casual steakhouse. In the few short months following this transition, Van Camp has been working his ass off to fill his predecessor's massive shoes. According to the critics and the diners who pack the restaurant every night, he's clearly onto something. I sat down to talk with Van Camp about his rapid ascent in the restaurant business, what it takes to serve great steak, and how he feels about modernist chefs dumping on traditional steakhouses.

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What Dallas' Best Chefs Are Cooking, and Eating, at Home This Thanksgiving

Categories: Interviews

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Alison McLean
Don't you wish Dodds was cooking your Thanksgiving dinner?
Even though they spend the other 364 days of the year cooking for other people, chefs love Thanksgiving. Whether it's because they're craving something much simpler than the fancy dishes cooked in their kitchens or they just really, really love cranberry sauce, many of Dallas' best chefs are planning on making a pretty sizeable contribution to their Thanksgiving dinner.

So we asked them what they were cooking this year, and which dishes absolutely must be on their Thanksgiving table. Most of our chefs have pretty traditional tastes, but there are some surprises on this list that might inspire you to shake up your normal Thnksgiving spread.

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Asador: One of the Best Dallas Restaurants You've (Probably) Never Heard of

Categories: Interviews

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Sara Kerens
Local ingredients are certainly all the rage these days, but the best chefs don't just use local ingredients, they use them intelligently. If you think the whole farm-to-table trend is played out, you're right.

That said, visiting Asador might just remind you why the trend began in the first place. Asador has long been a well-kept secret, and it's high time it got out.

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Clay Eiland Is the Veteran Roaster of Dallas' Coffee Scene, and He's Not Slowing Down

Categories: Coffee, Interviews

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Mark Graham
Eiland owner Clay Eiland.
All week, we're bringing you stories from Dallas' burgeoning roasting community. See other extended interviews in our coffee archive, or see them all in one place in this week's feature story, "Roasting Dallas."

Clay Eiland talks about his roaster with the beaming face of a dad describing his four-year-old's soccer goal. But unlike that goal, this roaster is deserving of the pride: It's a Probat UG22, out of production and much sought after among roasters. Eiland jumped on the chance to own one of his own when it popped up for sale a few years ago. He is a gadget guy at heart, always on looking for the finest coffee equipment, and the Probat is clearly his most prized instrument.

Eiland is the roasting game's seasoned vet: He's been selling Eiland Coffee Roasters coffee for a decade in a half. During that time, he has seen trends come and go and come back again, but also many gradual shifts, such as an seeing industry that leaned heavily on flavored coffees and very dark roasts give way to much lighters roasts and an increased interest in espresso.

"In 1999 I visited Café Vita in Seattle and had my eyes opened to what coffee could be," he says. "I will never forget my wife's face as she drank her coffee and realized that she didn't need or want sugar added, that it was great as is. They were doing so many interesting things up there with roasting and pulling shots and preparing drinks. I was really inspired to bring those things back home to Dallas."

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For the Couple Behind Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters, a Hobby Became a Full-Time Job

Categories: Coffee, Interviews

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Mark Graham
All week, we're bringing you stories from Dallas' burgeoning roasting community. See other extended interviews in our coffee archive, or see them all in one place in this week's feature story, "Roasting Dallas."

Every Saturday, Kevin and Mara Sprague get up before the sun and set up their tent, table and coffee equipment at the White Rock Local Market, which rotates between two East Dallas parking lots. They spend the next five hours there, talking to customers, sharing samples, sharing stories about their coffee, all smiles through the wind and rain of spring, the heat of summer, the cool mornings of fall. In the afternoon they break it all down and go home.

This, of course, is all after a seven-day work week spent roasting, bookkeeping and delivering coffee beans around DFW, work the couple does themselves. And yet, they're still standing.

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For Fort Worth's Avoca Coffee, It's All About Controlling the Supply Chain

Categories: Coffee, Interviews

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Mark Graham
Gerald LaRue founded Avoca.
All week, we're bringing you stories from Dallas' burgeoning roasting community. See other entries from the series in our coffee archive.

A few years back, after years spent behind coffee bars, Gerald LaRue decided it was time to delve deeper into the business of coffee. He ended up in Juno, Alaska with two bags to his name, and spent 18 months learning everything possible about roasting. He was immediately fascinated with the blend of craft and science required to roast good coffee.

"Chemistry, thermodynamics, and physics all play a role," says LaRaue, who started Avoca, his roasting company, in 2010. "And then on top of that you have to figure out what people are going to do with your coffee once you sell it to them. I like having to think up and down both ends of the supply chain, from the farmer to the customer."

For Avoca, this means an emphasis on control at as many links in the chain as possible, from the growing, to roasting, and even brewing.

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