Friday, March 9, 2012 , Updated 12:00 a.m., March 28, 2012
Dallas-Fort Worth chefs preview Savor Dallas dishes
Andre Natera from Pyramid, Christof Syre from Four Seasons, and others get your mouth watering early.
Famed chef René Redzepi of Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant told Bon Appétit recently that large ants he found while “digging into the soil” tasted like a wonderful blend of lemongrass, ginger, and lovage. As any foodie will tell you, braised, broiled, and baked ants are a gastronomic delicacy.
But Savor Dallas attendees need not cringe or fret when they arrive at the eighth annual food and wine event. None of the more than 60 Dallas and Fort Worth chefs -- nor the posh restaurants they will represent -- spice up their savory cuisine with ants.
Instead, some of the country’s most outstanding master and executive chefs will use seafood and sauces in their delectable creations at the International Grand Tasting, the culmination of the two-day event that starts Friday, March 30, with the Dallas Arts District Wine Stroll.
“I’m very excited to be part of Savor Dallas this year. In my opinion, it is always fun to cook for people who have a passion for food and drink,” said Andre Natera, executive chef of the AAA rated Four Diamond Fairmont Hotel Pyramid Restaurant & Bar.
Natera, a member of the prestigious World Master Chefs Society, plans to prepare a Thai Seafood Ceviche for the Savor Dallas International Grand Tasting event at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas on Saturday, March 31.
“I know that may seem like a contradiction, however, it is basically a seafood salad marinated in Thai flavors like lemongrass and kefir lime,” said Natera, who revealed the secret behind his attention-getting Caesar salad at the 2011 American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF) Caesar Salad Competition.
“I use white anchovies. I love the flavor that they provide. And I think they add the perfect amount of acidity to the dressing,” said Natera, a resident of a Dallas suburb who enjoys sampling ethnic foods when he’s not cooking.
Christof Syre, chef of Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas for the past 11 years, has not participated in Savor Dallas before. But he’s excited about showcasing local and seasonal choices in his spicy, Sangria-marinated watermelon, Texas red fish, and arugula.
“I’m a great fan of seasonal and local products. So I selected my ingredients to reflect that. Spring is great for watermelon. Texas has great red fish, sustainable and local,” exclaimed Syre, a native of Bendorf in Germany’s Rhine-Mosel region.
“Just for the fun of it, I will have the watermelon vacuum-packed together with the flavors of the Sangria. It will help the texture and definitely the flavor; it will all be sealed in. there’s no secret in creating a fresh, delicious, and sexy spring dish,” said Syre, whose family owned a fine-dining restaurant that inspired his love of cooking.
Cesar Gallegos, executive chef at Bolla, an upscale restaurant at the historic Stoneleigh Hotel in Dallas, is a graduate of the Texas Culinary Academy in Austin. The native Texan is also an experienced food and wine aficionado.
“I’ve been to a lot of food and wine events or show. But I think that this is the best food and wine event. I know that this is the best Dallas has to offer,” said Gallegos, who attended Savor Dallas for the first time last year.
“This year I want to prepare Latin food; something with Latin flavors. Since I’m a big seafood fan, I am going to do smoked scallops crudo. It will be a Serrano avocado mousse with candied pepitas, which are seeds," he said.
Gallegos first honed his culinary skills at the historic St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio. From there he moved north to The Driskill Hotel, another Texas landmark in Austin.
“My first executive chef’s job was at the St. Anthony. Then I was with the company that restored the Driskill Hotel. I was executive banquet chef there from 2000 to 2007. Then I came here,” he said.
At Bolla, Gallegos once again worked with 2007 James Beard nominee David Bull. When Bull, the Iron Chef America celebrity, relocated to Austin to open the Austonian’s Congress restaurant in 2010, Gallegos was named Bolla’s executive chef.
“I worked under David Bull at the Driskill in Austin. Then I worked with him at Bolla, so when he left, I became executive chef. I have two children, and I really like it here in Dallas. I’m a Texas native, so this is home for me,” he said.
Like Gallegos, Mike Pacheco graduated from the Texas Culinary Academy. In August 2011, Pacheco was named executive chef of the Landmark Restaurant and Library Bar at the historic Warwick Melrose Hotel Dallas.
“This is not the first time I will participate in Savor Dallas. I’ve participated in the past with other chefs. Every chef that comes through here has participated. But this year is the first time I will be head chef,” said Pacheco, who worked at the Westin Hotel in San Antonio after he graduated in 2003 from the TCA in Austin.
Pacheco has been featured on local television cooking programs, and will be a guest of Fox 4 News on March 16. For the International Grand Tasting event, Pacheco will showcase Rock Shrimp Gazpacho. He plans to give the cold soup from the Andalucian region in southern Spain a whole new twist.
“The base will still be red tomatoes, but we’re actually going to add some shrimp. It won’t be as thick as gazpacho; it will be more like a shrimp cocktail with a bite. It will have a little avocado, cilantro and be chunky,” said Pacheco, who had been at the Melrose Hotel since 2007 before being named executive chef.
Some of the most respected and innovative restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth, and their head chefs, will participate in Savor Dallas. The “best wine and food event in Texas” includes over 50 restaurants offering a taste of their menu items.
Neighborhood Services, led by chef Nick Badovinus, is one of those. Bistro 31 with head chef Eric Brandt is another. Next Food Network Star Lisa Garza’s newly opened Sissy’s Southern Chicken & Bar will be headed by former Suze colleague chef Jeffery Hobbs.
“I’ve participated in the Savor Dallas event since its inaugural year in 2005 ... the 2012 event will be our (Sissy’s) inaugural year,” said Hobbs, whose mentor was Toscana Chef Gilbert Garza, Lisa Garza’s former husband.
With the launch of the new southern-focused restaurant, Hobbs said he and Garza have not yet determined what they will serve at the upcoming event. Hobbs is a big fan of the Modernist Cuisine cookbook, so he is sure it will be a local, artisan-produced menu item.
“We use a couple of modernist cuisine tricks, and I’m always searching for local or small production artisan items. Our mac-and-cheese benefits from the MC magic. And a few of the artisan ingredients I’m excited about now are Vietnamese Red Boat 40N fish sauce,” said Hobbs.
Other ingredients that have caught the attention of Hobbs are: laurel-aged Charleston gold rice from Anson Mills in South Carolina and Sissy’s own house-made hot sauce paired with the down-home fried chicken.
But what would haute cuisine be without wine pairing? Rather bland and lacking to be sure. That’s why all Savor Dallas events will feature more than 400 premium wines, spirits, and beer from Texas, the nation, and around the world.
Winemakers, winery owners, and wine distributors will ensure that guests pair the right wine with the numerous gastronomic experiences. A wine and cheese seminar will be held early Saturday, March 31 at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. A luncheon benefitting the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF) will feature Dallas luminaries, including celebrity chef La Duni.
Beverages will be available for the asking during the two-day event. Among the many wines to be served are: 7 Deadly Zins, 7 Heavenly Chards, 1221, Abbazia, Acacia, Acrobat, Becker, Black Oak, Bridlewood, Chandon, Ceretto, Cakebread, and many more wines and wineries too numerous to name.
Those who prefer beer will not be disappointed. Among the beer representatives will be Stella Artois, Great Brewers, Leffe Blonde, Shock Top, and Hoegaarden Beer. Spirit representatives include: 10 Cane Rum, Deep Eddy’s Sweet Tea Vodka, Deep Eddy Vodka, Patron, and Dobel Tequila.
Savor Dallas founders Vicky Briley White and Jim White started the annual event in 2004. They had attended many food and wine events in Aspen, New Orleans, and nationwide. But they noted that Dallas had no such event. So the couple decided the goal would be to advance the appreciation of premium wines and have attendees savor them with food.
“About 4,000 attended the first year. We gave away a lot of promotional tickets to attract people to a new event,” said White, an award-winning CBS Dallas radio personality and media entrepreneur.
Now in its eighth year, Savor Dallas attracts the gamut of food and wine enthusiasts from foodies to oenophiles from across the Lone Star State and several other states, including Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, and beyond.
“We average about 4,500 people each year, although we were over 5,000 last year and it was too crowded as some events. We plan to hold the attendance to 4,500 again this year. It’s better for the customers, the chefs, and the wine people,” White said.
Advance tickets to Savor Dallas are available at www.savordallas.com. Tickets may be purchased for the Dallas Arts District Wine Stroll on Friday, March 30 and for a Reserve Tasting from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 31 or an International Grand Tasting from 7 to 10 p.m. Both Saturday events are at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.
This piece was submitted by a member of the Pegasus News community.
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