Exclusive: Burgers & Burgundy chef lineup

Grace's Blaine StanifordBurgers & Burgundy, the chef-driven fundraiser for DIFFA, returns on Oct. 2 to the same Preston Hollow estate where it has been for the past two years. And once again, the lineup of local and national celebrichefs. In addition to organizing chef John Tesar (Knife, Oak, El Bolero), among those area chefs coming up with creative takes on the traditional sandwich will be:  Blaine Staniford (Fort Worth’s Grace, pictured at last year’s event); Matt McCallister (FT33); Tre Wilcox; Brian Luscher (The Grape, Luscher’s Red Hots); Jason Campbell (Whole Foods) and Kevin Williamson (Ranch 616). In addition, newcomers will be Joshua Smith (Maine’s Moody Delicatessen), Kris Morningstar (L.A.’s Terrine, who recently was part of another Knife fundraising dinner in Dallas), Justin Brunson (Denver’s Old Major).

Tickets range from $85 to $150, and benefit DIFFA.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

My offer to Aaron Franklin: Move your barbecue joint to my backyard

Aaron Franklin cooking last month in Dallas. Austin may force him to shutter his exquisite BBQ joint.

A number of years ago, “neighbors” along 75 and Mockingbird Lane complained about the “odor pollution” caused by a local business. The business? The Mrs. Baird’s bakery, which has been there more than 50 years. I called “bullshit” at the time — the bakery had been an institution, and who in their motherfrickin’ minds would ever consider the aroma of fresh bread wafting by as “pollution”? People pay to have that smell put in their cars. I suspected the “neighbors” was SMU, trying to get the land for developm… oh, look! The Mrs. Baird’s factory closed and SMU bought up the land! What are the chances?

Anyhoo, that’s Dallas for ya. Dumb regulations. Forget tradition. But that’s not Austin.

Only now it is Austin.

The website I Am A Texan has a post about how Austin’s city council has effectively launched a plan to ban from Austin City Limits (hey, that could be the name of a TV show!) smokehouses. Expensive diffusers. Shorter smoking hours. New equipment. It would all but ruin the distinctive cuisine of the city; they might as well outlaw live music and cycling. Dumbasses.

I had the pleasure of spending an evening with Aaron Franklin recently here in Dallas. The founder of Franklin Barbecue, winner of the most recent James Beard Award for outstanding chef in the Southwest, and author of a best-selling cookbook is the best ambassador for Texas BBQ the state has ever had, and every city in Texas would kill to claim him. And Austin basically wants him to move.

So here’s my proposal: Move Franklin Barbecue to Dallas. You can set up in my backyard. My only rent will be an end cut twice a day. Maybe a rib if ya got ‘em.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Knife launches film series with, natch, ‘Chef’

chefIt’s an example of life imitating art and then using art to illustrate life. Last summer, just as the indie film Chef — about a volatile chef who gets into a viral shouting match with a local food critic — was hitting theaters, John Tesar, the chef at the newly-opened Knife steakhouse at The Highland Dallas, was getting into a very public shouting match with a local critic (not me, of course — I’m a delight). There were some who accused Tesar of capitalizing on the film (ludicrous, since it wasn’t a big hit anyway) … though he did address that in my interview with him about the opening of Knife. In the same article, chef told me that one of his plans for the restaurant was a film series on the outdoor patio area, which Tesar — himself a movie fan — would program.

So perhaps it is not a huge surprise that, for the introduction of the series (which is a lot later than we expected, but that’s the restaurant business for you), Tesar has chosen to screen … Chef. Honestly, that’s not something you should miss, if only to howl at the similarities (and dissimilarities) with Dallas reality. It kicks off on Sunday, May 17. And keeping with the foodie theme, subsequent films will include Big Night, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Julie and Julia.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DMN food critic Leslie Brennan ranks at the bottom of a national list


Dallas’ major daily food critic sinks in national poll … and look who’s smiling.

The website The Daily Meal polls chefs nationwide (and anonymously) about what they think of the critics who write about them. Overall, 28 critics were reviewed (not, I hasten to point out, me; the rankings are mostly limited to the major dailies, statewide magazines and national blogs). The highest-ranking Texas critic, Austin’s Pat Sharpe, came in at No. 11. And Dallas Morning News’ Leslie Brenner? At No. 26. Of 28.

Criteria include food knowledge as well as prose style and “who you’d like to share a meal with,” so it’s no wonder Brenner faired poorly, following the divisive Twitterfeud between her and Knife founder John Tesar (who, incidentally, did not observe the “anonymous” option in the poll).

Incidentally, Knife was my No. 1 restaurant of the year (despite giving it as many stars as others on her Top 10, Knife was nowhere on Brenner’s year-end). Tesar was also just nominated for a James Beard Award for best chef/Southwest, alongside other Dallas cooks: Matt McCallister, Omar Flores and David Uygur. San Salvaje by Stephan Pyles was also nominated as best new restaurant in America, and Pyles as best overall chef.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A few people we think of when we think 2014

BWDP_Bruce profile-1

Bruce Wood

Tomorrow’s edition of Dallas Voice reveals our annual choice for LGBT Texan of the Year. I won’t spoil who we chose, but in going over the year in my mind, some names stuck out — they were on my mind during 2014 a lot, for a variety of reasons. For instance, Bruce Wood — a friend and also one of the most frighteningly talented artists Texas has ever seen (I swear that’s not an exaggeration) — passed away, far too soon, at age 53 this past May. We did a cover story about Bruce the following week, cause he touched so many lives.

The community also reacted strongly to the passing of Chris Miklos, a muscleman popular in the bear community, but also a medical researcher who did a lot of good for people. Just a few weeks ago, I was stunned and saddened by the death, at age 31, of Brandon James Singleton, an actor, dancer and funny, skilled writer (he contributed a terrific series to Dallas Voice in 2012 about turning 30). Just as recently, two community leaders — Paul Lewis, a former executive with Caven and Steve Bratka, a huge fundraiser for the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats — passed away.

Wed Steve Dan

Noviello and Bedner

Not everyone who resonated died, of course. Mark Pharris and Victor Holmes of Plano won a marriage equality against the state of Texas — bully for them! And bully, too, for Jack Evans and George Harris, who finally tied the knot last March after more than decades as a couple (though not legally binding, their retired pastor wanted to make a statement to the Methodist Church). TV personality Steve Noviello did enter wedded bliss — legally — to his partner Doug Bedner in New York. Matt Miller brought the Gay World Series of Softball back to Dallas, and we were all glad to see thousands of athletes out at the clubs. And Stephan Pyles got more recognition for his cuisine for his new restaurant, San Salvaje. We were also pleased as punch when our favorite radio commentator, Rawlins Gilliland, did his first live spoken word show … and it was such a hit, he did several more.

There were some important allies who we cheered on, as well, from failed gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and lieutenant governor hopeful Leticia Van de Putte. Local chef John Tesar caused such a stir in the foodie community, we were happy he was on our side as a gay-friendly restaurateur. And Dale Hansen raised the bar high early on with his full-throated advocacy for gays in sports.

Think we left off someone important? Possibly — feel free to weigh in with comments. Then again, maybe they are in tomorrow’s paper — or even on the cover! Check it out Friday!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PHOTOS: Burgers & Burgundy fundraiser for DIFFA

The annual Burgers & Burgundy fundraiser came back to North Dallas, and honestly, every burgers and wine pairing was stellar. Here are some of the creations, their creators and guests.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

13 movies for foodies

On Friday, the film adaptation of The Hundred-Foot Journey will open (my review will run Friday as well). It’s a movie about food and cooking and love. And it got me thinking about how many films there are that deal with food in central ways — sometimes as romantic and personal, sometimes as something a little stranger.

So I compiled this list of 13 films — a baker’s dozen! — that represent some aspect of food, food criticism, consumption, eating and the like to whet your appetite. Drink up!



1. Ratatouille (2007). Pixar’s (and, by extension, Disney’s) best film ever is this unlikely charmer about a rat who loves to cook, but being a vermin is unwelcome in most kitchens (there’s always Arby’s). A film that pays closer attention to the details of the real fine dining scene more than any other, it’s not only beautiful but a canny depiction of the critic-chef relationship.

2. Babette’s Feast (1987). This Oscar winner for best foreign language film depicts a Danish household where privation is a way of life, and what happens when a French housekeeper breaks with tradition and hosts a magical dinner. It’s tantalizing and conjures the exquisite longing that food can represent for us emotionally.


3. Sideways (2004). What Ratatouille is to cuisine, Sideways is to wine: On point, evocative and full of complex, passionate relationships. Famous for its “I’m not drinking any fucking merlot!” line, pay attention to the wine the anti-hero is sipping near the end. Complex did I say? Oh, yes.

4. Toast (2011). This film adaptation of the memoir by gay British gourmand and critic Nigel Slater is a tender coming-of-age film and an elegant battle royal in the kitchen between a young man and his stepmonster.

5. Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978). An oldie-but-goodie, this 1970s caper film concerns great chefs being slowly eliminated by a mysterious killer who turns their own techniques on them. But why? A sumptuous romantic comedy, the cake-making scene (a huge bombe) is alone enough to turn you diabetic.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Top Chef’ gets renewed, brings search for next cheftestants to Dallas

Top ChefLast night on part 1 of the 11th season finale of Top Chef, cutie Louis and workhorse Shirley got booted during the elimination round on Maui, leaving temperamental Nicholas and deserving Nina in the final showdown, which will air next Wednesday. But the bigger Top Chef news in the last 24 hours is this: Not only has Bravo renewed the show for a 12th season, but it will kick off its search for kitchen talent in Dallas — and pretty soon.

On Feb. 18 from 10 am. to 1 p.m., producers will be holding a casting call at the Hotel Palomar before moving on to Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. (No word on whether bearish host Tom Colicchio, pictured, will be in attendance, but fingers are crossed.) It’s a slightly ironic choice of location, as the menu at Central 214, the restaurant at the Palomar, is being reimagined by former Top Chef contestant John Tesar. Actually, Dallas has been the hometown to a lot of alums, including Tiffany Derry, Tre Wilcox and Casey Thompson.

Anyone wanting to sign up for the competition can download an application here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Scenes from Burgers+Burgundy

Grace burger

This weekend was ripe with social events and fundraisers — not time to attend all of them, in fact. But the most filling was surely yesterday at DIFFA‘s fifth annual Burgers+Burgundy picnic.

Not only was it well attended (by Dallas star Linda Grey, no less!) but the burgers were delish. My favorite: Blaine Staniford, chef at Grace (and the just-opened Little Red Wasp in Cowtown), did a simple yet complex burger with a healthy (or rather, unhealthy) dollop of Port Salud cheese and a mushroom ketchup (not a ketchup at all, but a saucy reduction). It was designed to be paired with a hearty wine.

Other restaurants participating included Spoon (a catfish slopping joe), Five Sixty and Smoke (both of whom provided lamb burgers of very different flavor profiles), Nick & Sam’s, Max’s Wine Dive, Shinsei (which did a banh mi), Asador, Ranch 616 and 3015 Trinity Groves (the only one to also prepare a dessert, which was yummy, even though Steve Kemble ate all of them.)

The Hunter Sullivan Band provided the entertainment, with great vocals from Hunter. And the weather was perfect — a nice surprise, following the heavy rains on Saturday. And DIFFA announced the theme for next year’s collection as well: Masquerade. Get your mask ideas ready.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tasting Notes: Dallas ‘Top Chef’ alums pair food with booze

Top Chef - Season 10

The Grape on Greenville Avenue is teaming up with Dallas’ Four Corners Brewing Co. for, not a wine dinner, but a beer dinner on Tuesday, Aug. 9. The Grape’s chef de cuisine — former Top Chef candidate Danyele McPherson — will devise a menu to showcase several craft brews. The cost of the four-course meal is $55 and includes, of course, the beer. Reservations are required  at TheGrapeRestaurant.com or calling 214-828-1981.

Then on Wednesday, McPherson’s fellow Top Chef alum John Tesar at Spoon hosts his own take on a wine dinner, with one dedicated to bubbly. The champagne dinner — with wines from Ruinart — will feature five courses (including dessert) on April 10, starting at 6 p.m. The cost is $125, and reservations at 214-368-8220 are recommended.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones