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Wandering Chef: Matt McCallister in New York City

Chef Matt McCallister of FT33 restaurant in Dallas’s Design District recently made a quick trip to New York City. He found time to stop at his go-to haunts, as well as check out a few new spots.

Aquagrill
“Every trip to New York includes lunch at Aquagrill in SoHo. It is my go-to lunch place. I always order the seafood platter. If you like seafood, then you have to eat here.” 210 Spring St., (212) 274-0505, aquagrill.com

Booker & Dax
“This is a really cool new experimental-type bar in the old Momofuku Milk Bar space next to Momufuku Ssäm Bar in the East Village. The inventive snacks and drinks owed to the genius of chef David Chang collaborating with Dave Arnold, the director of culinary technology at the French Culinary Institute. They do really cool stuff like bottle their own gin and tonics and use a centrifuge to make clarifications. Tons of innovation is happening here. And you can also order the awesome pork buns from Ssäm Bar from the menu.” 207 2nd Ave., (212) 254-3500, momofuku.com

Mission Chinese
“The food here is super vibrant. The restaurant is super loud, yet somehow still laidback and you can still hold a conversation. I’m not used to New York City’s tight seating style. I don’t mind it as a diner, but it would never fly in Dallas. At Mission Chinese, you are packed in, but it’s worth it for the food. I tried the salt cod fried rice with slow-cooked mackerel, Chinese sausage, and egg. That was a really solid dish. The Taiwanese clams with soy caramel, basil, and fried garlic was over the top. And you can’t miss the thrice-cooked bacon, which comes with Shanghainese rice cakes, tofu skin, and bitter melon. The thrice cooked bacon was pretty spicy, but not s spicy as the cold spicy noodles at Momofuku Noodle Bar. Now that is hardcore.” 154 Orchard St., (212) 529-8800, missionchinesefood.com

Ippudo NY
“Right before I left I went to Ippudo. This place rocks. My sous chef had been several times and I’ve always meant to check it out but find myself at Momofuku Noodle Bar instead. The black sesame ramen was delicious and I would say the pork buns are better than the famous pork buns at Momofuku Ssäm Bar. I nearly missed my flight because of the pork buns.” 65 4th Ave., (212) 388-0088, ippudony.com

Blue Ribbon
“Whenever I’m in New York my go-to late night spot is Blue Ribbon for amazing shellfish, especially oysters. The vibe is always really relaxed, the service is great, and you know the food is always going to be good.” 97 Sullivan St., (212) 274-0404, blueribbonrestaurants.com

by JEN MURPHY
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Matt McCallister And Getting Back To The Land

From rising through the ranks of mentor Stephan Pyles’ restaurant empire (read our coverage of Pyles’ newest venture here) and helming the Stephan Pyles restaurant-in-a-restaurant Fuego to co-founding Chefs for Farmers and his first fine-dining eatery, FT 33 — shorthand for restaurant industry lingo “Fire Table 33” — Dallas’ culinary whiz Matt McCallister is hot. Through it all, the chef-restaurateur has advocated the use of local, seasonal ingredients in cooking. We’re calling it living off the land. And there’s no better place for living off the land than Texas. It’s something Texans have always done.

Recently, McCallister took time out of busy schedule to answer some questions for Cowboys & Indians readers.

Cowboys & Indians: You opened FT33 in late 2012, with great success. The fine-dining restaurant, for those who might not know, serves a local and seasonal Texas menu, but not the meat-and-potatoes kind. In contemporary jargon, it’s locavore. That sense of local and seasonal isn’t new. It’s what many would call living off the land. How did you come to be a champion for living off the land and for farmers, and how did Chefs for Farmers play into the opening of FT33?

Matt McCallister: I have always been a big supporter of hyper seasonal cuisine, and over the years I have developed some great relationships with farmers and purveyors that like to work with my style of “give me what you have and I will create the menu.” Chefs for Farmers was created by my wife and I to become a catalyst for farmers and artisans to be a part of the same event that 30 chefs are a part of. What better marketing for them is that?

C&I: How did you go about selecting your purveyors?

McCallister: I have visited all the farms I get produce from and all the artisans I get product from. I have several people I select pigs from and they range from Berkshire, Red Wattle, Large Blacks, and Mangalitsa. Lamb, eggs, beef, chicken, all have a place on my menu and I have relationships with their producers.

C&I: Not all your ingredients are sourced from farms, others are picked from the ground by your own hands. What are some of the unique ingredients you’ve found foraging in North Texas? Are there any plants you would jump head over heels for if you found them while foraging? What is/are they? What would you make with them?

McCallister: There is a great amount of stuff you can find in the woods in North Texas On my last outing I came back with oyster mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, chickweed, oxalis, and watercress. Throughout the years there are stinging nettles, wild onions, and garlic, morel mushrooms, chanterelle mushrooms, mache, wild spinach, curly dock, sheepshead sorrel, elderflowers, mulberries, muscadine grapes, wood violets. … the list can go on. What I make with them all depends on the bounty of harvest. You will find them on our menu in different applications.




C&I: Do you find that diners are surprised or not surprised by your use of local, seasonal ingredients?

McCallister: If they know me, not really.

If you’re in Dallas, FT33 is a required eating, and not just for dinner. Beginning February 5, FT33 will begin its special Swine & Wine Tuesdays. The new happy hour event with pork-themed bar snacks, including ciccioli — a munchie made from pork fat — with fried pickles and wild onions as well as pork liver mousse with wild oyster mushroom conserva and crostini. The menu will also feature paired beer and wine offerings and Texas Cosmos made with Tito’s handmade vodka and Spruce Goose pinot noir juice with prices ranging from $3 – $10.

FT33
1617 Hi Line Dr., Suite 250
Dallas, Texas 75207
214.741.2629

by JOSÉ R. RALAT
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The Best of Dallas 2012

As 2013 swiftly moves into position, we took pause to review our photos from this past year selected some of our very favorite dishes, people and places. Looking back, 2012 was an excellent restaurant year for Dallas with many new openings that definitely elevated our palates. Innovators such as chef Matt McCallister are making Dallas a dining destination and will most assuredly be sought out with national culinary awards in the coming year.

This year brought us closer to the sea with forward thinkers such as Jon Alexis at TJ’s Seafood Market, Omar Flores at Driftwood, and John Tesar with his very new restaurant, Spoon. We also enjoyed a new rush of oysters in the Dallas area with the promise of even more in coming months. Look for the Establishment to open soon with 14 varieties on hand daily.

2013 should bring even more changes in the food community, but today we take you back to check out our list of favorites for 2012.

Best Food Event 2012: Chefs for Farmers

Chefs for Farmers is the brainchild of Matt and Iris McCallister which started as a way to band a handful of chefs together and highlight local farmers and ranchers. This past year the event swelled to include a larger selection of chefs chaired by the three tenors of Dallas chefs, Stephan Pyles, Dean Fearing and Kent Rathbun with funds going to local farmers and charities. The event was held in the sweltering Dallas heat in May, but this not deter the happy crowds that read as the who’s who of Dallas culinary elite.

Best Dish 2012: Lamb Duo at FT33

The lamb duo has undergone some changes since it was debuted at the grand opening of FT33, the beautiful new restaurant owned by Matt McCallister in the Dallas Design District. The dish is served with a pair of supple and crisped lamb breast wedges and a double lamb chop. The richness of the sweet lamb shines bright on this plate, and in a year of fantastic dishes this one stayed in our thoughts for the past several months.

by STEVEN DOYLE
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2012’s Best New Restaurants, Part 2

Last week, we presented three of the best new restaurants in town, serving up everything from fried chicken to whole lobsters and pound-and-a-half porterhouse steaks.

Wrapping things up, here are the top three restaurants of 2012 to get on your New Year’s post-resolution list.

#3: High-Flying Fish: Spoon Bar & Kitchen
Even though Spoon was one of the last restaurants we featured in 2012, it quickly rose to the top of the list thanks to innovative (if very expensive) seafood dishes from Top Chef Seattle contestant John Tesar. Oyster and black truffle chowder and big eye tuna with foie gras are great places to stick your spoon first.
8220 Westchester Dr., University Park (855-947-7666)

#2: Haute Truck Stop: Stampede 66
The gourmet Frito Pie is already the stuff of legend, as is the pig sculpture made entirely out of pork rinds. Yet for all the over-the-top Texas whimsy, Chef Stephan Pyles proves dish after dish why he was the first chef in the Southwest to win the James Beard Award for Best Chef.
1717 McKinney Ave, #100, Uptown (214-550-6966)

#1: Designer Cuisine: FT33
Being served too pretty to eat is a problem. Thankfully, Chef Matt McCallister manages to make food so creatively displayed that it makes you want to eat it even more. Whether it’s sea urchin and chive pancakes, pork jowls with black truffle, or wild boar Sloppy Joes, dining at FT33 is akin to visiting a museum where you get to eat the masterpieces.
1617 Hi Line Dr., Design District (214-741-2629)

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What & Where Was Your Best Meal of 2012?

As 2012 comes to an end, we’re surveying friends, readers, critics, and bloggers about the year in dining. Now, we ask folks to recall their single best meal of the year. Readers, feel free to weigh in via the comments.

Q: What and where was your single best meal in 2012?

Whitney Filloon, editor, Eater Dallas: “Probably Ippudo in New York. Pork belly steamed buns, pork tatsuta-age, the ‘Modern’ ramen bowl, and an icy cold Kirin… just unspeakably delicious, which is why I’m so excited that Tanoshi Ramen is coming to my ‘hood soon. As far as Dallas goes, FT33 blew me away with their pork jowl dish with crushed pork rinds, and an amazing chicken dish with peanuts and chanterelles. Where else can you eat food like that while listening to the Wu-Tang Clan?”

by WHITNEY FILLOON
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Best in DFW: New Restaurants of 2012

It’s been a crazy, tumultuous year in Dallas dining. Wonderful restaurants closed: Nana, Craft Dallas and Screen Door. Talented chefs and restaurateurs unexpectedly abandoned their posts: André Natera (the Pyramid Restaurant), Jeffery Hobbs (Sissy’s Southern Kitchen and Cocktails), Monica Greene (Monica’s Nueva Cocina), Colleen O’Hare and Jeana Johnson (Acme F&B).
And a slew of terrific restaurants opened.
In fact, it started to look like choosing a Restaurant of the Year for 2012 would be a daunting task. On the one hand, we had Oak — the beautiful Design District establishment from Tommy DeAlano and Richard and Tiffanee Ellman that opened last year, too late to be considered for The Best in DFW: New Restaurants of 2011. And then we had Driftwood, the wonderful seafood spot Jonn Baudoin opened in Oak Cliff in the spring. In October, Matt McCallister introduced FT33, just around the corner from Oak, completely shaking things up. November brought Stephan Pyles’ new Stampede 66 and John Tesar’s Spoon, neither of which could be counted out.
All in all, it has been an exceptional year — what a group of outstanding debuts!
But in the end, the choice for Restaurant of the Year was clear: FT33 is the most impressive debut not just of this year, but of the last two years. Read on to find out what makes it so exciting. The other top newcomers are listed in alphabetical order.
We’re guessing you have your own favorite restaurants that opened in 2012, and we’d certainly love to hear about them. Please turn to Page 25 to learn how to share your choices.

RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
FT33
Ambitious and dynamic, sophisticated and modern, FT33 puts Matt McCallister, a former top toque at Stephan Pyles, squarely in a league with some of the country’s most interesting and talented chefs.
The menu changes frequently according to the ingredients enthralling McCallister at the moment. With duck breast left over from a wine dinner recently, he made duck ham — which became the centerpiece of a sexy salad with Belgian endives, local new potatoes and a duck egg. Earthy sunchokes might meet up with Brussels sprouts petals, a gentle chile sauce and lightly candied pecans.
The marriages are surprising and fresh, yet absolutely harmonic; modernist flourishes keep things lively yet never trump deliciousness. And the plates just happen to be gorgeous. It’s a place to visit frequently, to see what kind of culinary magic McCallister is perpetrating at the moment, whether gorgeously pink pork loin served with butternut squash purée and kale, a chicken ballotine with giant leaves of crunchy savoy cabbage, or luscious uni-chive pancakes.
The feeling of the rustic, industrial-chic dining room is in perfect keeping with the cooking. It’s relaxed yet energized, formal yet friendly, a place you want to hang out. General manager Ryan Tedder’s wine list offers a world of pleasurable adventure. The cocktails are exquisitely balanced. The service is spot-on.
By no means is the place perfect — the desserts need work, and things fall apart a bit if McCallister’s not in the house, which doesn’t seem sustainable. Be that as it may, FT33 is an ambitious undertaking, only 2½ months out of the gate, and it has already led Dallas dining in an exciting new direction.
1617 Hi Line Drive, Dallas. 214-741-2629. ft33dallas.com

by LESLIE BRENNER
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The Top Restaurant Newcomers of 2012

As 2012 comes to an end, we’re surveying friends, readers, critics, and bloggers about the year in dining. To start things off, we posed a question about the city’s best new restaurants. Readers, feel free to weigh in via the comments.

Q: What are the top restaurant newcomers of 2012?

José Ralat-Maldonado, blogger, The Taco Trail: “Chicken Scratch, FT33, Spoon and Stampede 66. The latter is especially important to me. The chefs at Stephan Pyles’ newest restaurant are deftly walking the line between highfalutin and traditional with their taco offerings, and the tortillas are made from nixtamal. I’d like to see them play a little more, though. Huitlacoche (corn fungus) and chapulines (grasshoppers) deserve guest appearances. If there are off-menu tacos when you go—and you should go—request them.”

Rich Vana, editor, Entrée Dallas: “FT33 – It comes to mind first. And I think (along with everyone else, evidently) it’s one in particular that’s worth getting excited about. Sissy’s – I’ve liked all my experiences there, and while they’re definitely more than fried chicken, I still get it every time. I love fried chicken so much. Spoon – Haven’t eaten there yet, but it’s John Tesar, so it’s going to be a fun one to watch closely, at any rate. Plus everything I’ve heard sounds promising, to say the least. Boulevardier – I’m biased, because I’m pretty sure Nathan and Randall are two of the coolest people ever, so just listen to whatever other people say (with the exception of one or two, specifically). Nora – I have been a fan of the Afghan Grill for awhile, and love that Matt Pikar took his cooking to Greenville.”

foodbitch, blogger: “2012 has a thing for celebrity chefs (FT33, Stampede 66, Spoon), but I’ve got to give shootouts to Boulevardier and Oak.”

Whitney Filloon, editor, Eater Dallas: “Off-Site Kitchen, for serving the best sandwiches in town (that brisket is killer) at dirt-cheap prices, and always being consistent. Chicken Scratch/The Foundry, not so much for the food as for the space itself, although that fried chicken is pretty damn good. And FT33 for sure, the food wouldn’t be out of place with white tablecloths and considerably higher prices but they keep it approachable and relaxed, which is refreshing.”

by WHITNEY FILLOON
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Restaurant review: At FT33, Matt McCallister takes diners on a wild, wonderful ride

Dive into a short stack of uni pancakes and prepare to be transported. Tender and velvety, suffused with the extravagant flavor of the best sea urchin roe and a touch of chive, they’re layered with more uni — perfect lobes, cool and wet, with oceanic flavor that whooshes through the dish. It’s fabulous, and even more extraordinary when pulled through the sauces on the plate — a creamy emulsion flavored gently with dried bonito and a tangy, bright, fruity sauce alive with Japanese chiles. Wow.

The uni pancakes alone are enough to put Matt McCallister on a short list of the city’s most talented and exciting chefs.

by LESLIE BRENNER
::: original article

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