Thu May 8, 2014 11:09 am By Patricia Sharpe

Dallas super chef Dean Fearing did not get where he is today by being a shrinking violet. Or lacking ambition. Noticing that no one had written a cookbook named The Texas Food Bible, he claimed the title for his own. As a result, The Texas Food Bible: From Legendary Dishes to New Classics is now out from Grand Central Publishing ($30).

In the 256-page book, lavishly illustrated with photography by Dave Carlin, Fearing looks back on dishes he has developed over a career that spans some thirty years, including two decades at the celebrated Mansion on Turtle Creek Hotel in Dallas and seven-plus years at his own restaurant, Fearing’s, which opened at the Dallas Ritz Carlton in 2007. (Texas Monthly named Fearing’s the best new restaurant in the state in 2008.)

Fans will be happy to know that it includes signature dishes (and adaptations) from both restaurants, such as enchiladas with griddled jalapeño potatoes, charred corn and chorizo street tacos, and avocado fries. But he also throws in recipes he’s come across and fallen in love with, like smoky bacon barbecue sauce. Many of the selections pay homage to Southwestern Cuisine, the popular culinary movement that Fearing co-founded with other Texas chefs in the mid-nineteen-eighties.

There is still time to catch him on his short book tour. On Thursday, May 8, he will do a book signing and dinner in conjunction with the Twig Book shop and NAO restaurant in San Antonio. On Saturday, May 10, he will sign books at Neiman Marcus at 8687 North Central Expy, Suite 400, Dallas. On May 24, he will be at Neiman Marcus at 2100 Green Oaks Road in Fort Worth.

Here’s his take on barbecued quail:

Barbecued Bacon-Wrapped Quail with Jalapeño Ranch Dressing

Serves 4 

Ingredients:
Four 4-ounce semi-boneless quail
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
8 thin strips seeded jalapeno chile
8 strips smoked bacon
1 cup warm Texas-Style Barbecue Sauce or use your favorite sauce
1 cup Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Place the quail on a clean cutting board. Working with one at a time and using a small, sharp knife, cut the wing tips and legs from each bird. Cut down the center of the backbone of each quail, opening up the body. Lay flat, skin side down.
  3. Generously season all sides of each quail with salt and pepper. Lay 2 strips of chile down the center of each one and, working from one cut side, roll the birds into a tight cylinder.
  4. Working with one bird at a time, place 2 strips of bacon, side by side, on a clean surface. Place a rolled quail on one end, and again roll into a tight cylinder, completely enclosing the quail. Repeat the process to cover all the birds.
  5. Place the rolled quail, seam side down, in a baking pan, leaving about 2 inches between birds. Transfer to the preheated oven and roast for about 12 minutes, or until the bacon is thoroughly cooked and nicely browned.
  6. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Using a serrated knife cut each quail roll crosswise into ½-inch-thick rounds. Place a small skewer through each round, going straight through the center, entering and exiting through the bacon wrap. Dip the quail rolls into the barbecue sauce to glaze slightly.
  8. Place on a platter and serve warm with the ranch dressing for dipping.
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Tue May 6, 2014 2:38 pm By Layne Lynch

It’s not surprising a Texas chef took home the award for Best Chef Southwest last night at the James Beard Foundation Awards; after all, four out of the five nominees hail from the state. And yet, Houstonians and Texans alike couldn’t help but beam when Chris Shepherd, executive chef of Underbelly in Houston, was called up to accept the prestigious culinary medal.

Shepherd surpassed fellow Texas nominees Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine (Austin), Justin Yu of Oxheart (Houston), Hugo Ortega of Hugo’s (Houston), and Kevin Binkley of Binkley's in Cave Creek (Arizona) to bring home the food world’s highest honor.

"This is an amazing, surreal experience,” Shepherd told Texas Monthly. “More than anything, I wanted to bring this award back to the city of Houston, and I'm thrilled to be able to do that. I built my restaurant for the city, and this award is for the city." 

Under Shepherd’s helm, Underbelly has utilized homegrown fare and purveyor goods from Houston and its surrounding communities to create a playful-yet-refined, ethnically diverse menu. This was also a record year for Houston chefs, who set a record number of nominations in the Best Chef Southwest category. The last Houston chef to bring home the same honor as Shepherd was Robert Del Grande in 1992 (coincidentally, del Grande, chef and co-owner of RDG/Bar Annie in Houston, was one of the chefs who cooked for the gala following the awards ceremony). Congratulations to Shepherd and all the Underbelly employees. 

For more on Shepherd and his restaurant, check out Patricia Sharpe’s review of Underbelly from the September 2012 issue.  

(Photo by Julie Soefer)

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Fri April 25, 2014 3:02 pm By Layne Lynch

This weekend, a group of acclaimed food and beverage personalities will flock to Austin for the third annual Austin Food & Wine Festival, including James Beard Foundation Award finalist Bryce Gilmore of the Odd Duck and Barley Swine in Austin. Below, Gilmore jumps into who should win this year’s James Beard Best Chef Southwest award, Odd Duck’s negative GQ mention, and working with his chef-father (one day).

Layne Lynch: The Austin culinary scene is continuing to draw a lot of national attention. What do you think is going on in Austin that’s inspiring such creativity?

Bryce Gilmore: I think there’s a lot of young and innovative talent here. Austin is really community-based, and it breeds this ‘we’re all in this together’ mentality, which is great. The culinary scene doesn’t have the vast range of cuisines like New York or Chicago, but it’s happening: chefs and restaurateurs are seeing that the people of Austin are interested in more. 

LL: You were recently nominated for a James Beard Foundation award. I’m going to ask you a huge hypothetical. If you don’t win for Best Chef Southwest, who should?

BG: That’s an impossible question to answer. It’s such an honor to be nominated as one of five in the whole region. That’s an insane statistic if you think about it. Of course I’d love for this year to be me, but you never know. 

LL: Are there any Austin chefs or Austin restaurants that inspire you? 

BG: My dad, Jack Gilmore, is always an inspiration. He introduced me to this world and continues to inspire me. The sheer volume he does at both restaurants and his unwavering commitment to local farmers should be inspiring for all chefs.

LL: I was surprised Alan Richman found fault with one of Odd Duck’s dishes. Do you let opinions of that caliber change the way you execute your dishes? 

BG: I definitely listen to people’s opinions, but the caliber of the opinion bears no weight as to my decision to change or not change a dish.

LL: Tell me a bit about what you’ll be doing at the Austin Food and Wine Festival.

BG: I’ll be participating in the Rock Your Taco event, which I’ve done before and it’s always a really fun event. On Sunday, I’ll be doing the Fire Pits with my dad again this year. We are still working out what we’ll serve for both events, so I’ll keep that a surprise. 

LL: I’ve asked you in the past about doing a project with your dad one day and you’ve always said “never say never.” Is that still something you think about? 

BG: Absolutely, I’d love to do something with my dad. We’re both very busy at the moment with our own ventures. Something like that is all about good timing for both of us. 

LL: You’re now juggling two restaurants. How have you seen yourself evolve as a chef over the past few years? 

BG: Well, I went from a trailer-sized staff to managing two restaurants, which has been a huge evolution. It’s hard for me to objectively say how I’ve evolved as a chef because my philosophy for cooking is the same. Perhaps I’ve evolved in that I can support more farmers now than ever before.

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Fri April 25, 2014 1:02 pm By Layne Lynch

This weekend, a group of acclaimed food and beverage personalities will flock to Austin for the third annual Austin Food & Wine Festival, including pastry chef Jodi Elliott of the soon-to-open Bribery bakery in Austin. Below, Elliott spills details about her new dessert bar, leaving Foreign & Domestic, and her profound affection for Austin Tex-Mex.

Layne Lynch: The past few years have been really awesome for you as a pastry chef. What’s been the greatest highlight thus far? 

Jodi Elliott: Yikes, I have to choose just one? I would say the success of the bake sales. It’s been amazing. My career thus far has been mainly restaurants, but now I have a whole different direction I’m going in because of the bake sales. To have people line up and wait for something that I created is unbelievable. Because of the die-hard loyalty and support of everyone, I’m now going to live out a dream I never knew I had. And winning Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Pastry Chef wasn’t bad either. Icing on the cake – pun intended.

LL: You and Ned [Elliott] moved to Austin to open Foreign & Domestic. As outsiders who had to root themselves into Austin, what was one thing that did and still does surprise you about the culinary community?

JE: I think the diversity and sheer size of the culinary community here is surprising. Austin is growing, but it’s still a small town next to Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. The restaurants we have here are stellar and there’s a plethora to choose from. We came here because of the growing food scene and the mentality here. People are avid foodies and love to eat out and try new things. There’s support here and it means the world to the small restaurants trying to get by.

LL: Are there any chefs or restaurants showcasing at the festival that inspire you or that you admire?

JE: Rick Bayless. I’ve never met him and have been a fan for years. I love and admire how he showcases Mexican cuisine and culture, which is my absolute favorite. Andrew Zimmern. He’s such a sweet man. I love how he’s game for anything, and his passion for all food is contagious. I love all the chefs from Houston: Chris Shepherd, Seth Siegel-Gardner, Terrence Gallivan, Justin Yu, and Monica Pope. I don’t get down there often enough, but I love the food scene and these restaurateurs are really putting Houston on the map. They all are so deserving of the accolades.

LL: What are your top five food stops in Austin and why?

JE: Choosing only five is difficult, but I have a few. Whip In. I love, love, love the simplicity-and-no-frills-but-exceptionally-well-done food. Tex-Mex; it’s something that anyone coming here has to experience. I love Maudie’s, Angie’s, Matt’s El Rancho, Polvos, and Tres Amigos. The margaritas and queso are a must at each of these places. I love Lenoir and Fabi & Rosi. I think there are both doing amazing food that you get to enjoy in the most charming and cozy settings. The service is always stellar as well. Foreign & Domestic. I can say that now that I don’t own it anymore. Ned is the most talented cook I’ve ever worked with or been around. I think his food is impeccable and thought provoking without trying to be. He deserves more attention for it.

LL: What can you tell us about your upcoming bakery Bribery thus far?

JE: Bribery is in the works! I hope to have a few locations, which I can’t divulge just yet. It will be a bakery by day and a dessert bar by night. I’m beyond excited to be working on my very own pastry mecca of sorts. The day menu will definitely be an extension of the bake sales. We will have a few key items but the rest will change often. Think green chili chicken and Monterey jack cheese croissants, sausage, egg, and cheddar biscuit sandwiches, quiches, buttermilk pie, pineapple brown butter blondies, turtle brownies, etc. There will be a mix of sweet and savory and some grab-and-go lunch options. At night, a full cocktail program with syrups, candies, and garnishes made by me as well as plated desserts will be served. There will be casual food, like donuts, and fancy dishes, like soufflés, to choose from. I see it as a grown-up place to enjoy sweets and drinks after dinner out or at home. It will be somewhere you can begin or extend your evening out.

LL: There’s been some talk of Foreign & Domestic opening a location in Houston. What makes you feel the restaurant would make a successful crossover?

JE: I’m out of the loop on that since I'm no longer Ned's business partner. Although, I do think it’s a great idea. We’ve had an insanely loyal Houston following since we opened, so I’m not surprised. I haven’t been at Foreign & Domestic for over six months, and Bribery is my main focus now.

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Thu April 24, 2014 5:06 pm By Layne Lynch

This weekend, a group of acclaimed food and beverage personalities will flock to Austin for the third annual Austin Food & Wine Festival, including celebrity chef Rick Bayless of Top Chef Masters fame and the famed PBS series Mexico: One Plate at a Time. Below, Bayless delves into Tex-Mex versus Mexican cuisine, recreating historical menus, and his great love for Mexico City.   

Layne Lynch: The Austin culinary scene is continuing to draw a lot of national attention. What do you think is going on in Austin that's inspiring such creativity?

Rick Bayless: I can't speak to Austin specifically, but I think smaller cities all over the country are becoming great food towns. And the reason for that is simply accessibility, information through the Internet, inspiration from food magazines and television shows, [great] ingredients, funding from websites like Kickstarter, and more. It's an open playing field these days.

LL: Traditional Mexican cuisine has vastly transformed over the years. What’s an interpretation you're noticing a lot of chefs embracing recently?

RB: A lot of us are looking to history. I know we're doing that at Topolo. We're doing a series of menus that look at what ingredients were common in 1491, 1671, etc. Then, we take that information and make completely contemporary plates out of it. It's a way to approach food with reverence and sometimes the constraints make you more creative.

LL: What's coming up for your PBS series Mexico: One Plate at a Time?

RB: The past few seasons have been thematic, and right now we're exploring the possibility of doing a season dedicated to Mexico City. Nothing is set in stone yet, and I'm about to embark on a research trip, but filling an entire season of television with shows about Mexico City would not be hard. I could do 100 shows about Mexico City. And by the time Mexico: One Plate at a Time is done, I probably will have shot 100 shows there.

LL: Down in Texas diners sometimes confuse Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican cuisine. How best would you describe the differences to a puzzled diner?

RB: Honestly, I see the connection between the two to be pretty tenuous. I have nothing against Tex-Mex at all. I can get down with a burrito just like everybody else, but when I think of Mexican food I think of fresh corn tortillas, intricate sauces, and a cuisine that is largely built around chiles. As far as I know, Tex-Mex isn't built on chiles, except maybe for the jalapeño, and relies far more on melted cheese than on sauces.

LL: Will you be checking out any restaurants while you're in town?

RB: I have a list of places, but who knows if I'll actually get to them. One place I'm interested in checking out is La Condesa. I saw the chef there do a vegetarian demo at a Culinary Institute of America conference recently and was really intrigued.

LL: Tell me a bit about what you'll be doing at the festival.

RB: I'm doing two demos with Jill Gubesch, the wine director of our restaurants. Jill and I have worked for years on developing a curriculum for pairing wine with Mexican food, and I love doing demos with her because she's a great teacher and people walk away with a lot of knowledge. I'm cooking enchiladas and a ceviche at one demo and a porcini and crab guacamole and red peanut mole at the other. At both demos, Jill will talk about what wines pair with these dishes, and, more importantly, why they go well together.

LL: You became a household name after your stint on Top Chef Masters. Why do you think audiences have become so captivated by that show over the years?

RB: Top Chef is nail-biting experience for both the chefs and the viewers. It's not quite indicative of what it's like to cook in a restaurant kitchen, of course – though that can be pretty nail-biting too – but the passion, stress, determination, skill, and love you see in these chefs is very real. You need all of that to make a restaurant work. And all that emotion and drama makes for great television.

LL: What's over the horizon for you?

RB: A lot! We've got a new season of Mexico: One Plate at a Time. I'm finishing up writing my next book and I can't stop thinking about the book after that: a big, weighty tome unlike anything I've ever done before. I'm appearing in a musical in Chicago called Cascabel this summer, and we're going to throw the second annual Mod Mex conference. I fly in chefs from all over to talk about what the future of Mexican food is for the conference. I also have a few more restaurants opening, too. A second XOCO will open this summer, and there are other projects after that. So, I'm definitely keeping busy.

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