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Matt McCallister’s FT33 is opening this Saturday; here’s a sneak peek at the menu

One of the two most anticipated debuts of the year — Matt McCallister’s FT33 — will come to pass this Saturday evening, if all goes as planned. If you’ve been as curious about what McCallister’s “season inspired cuisine” will be like, you’ll want to take a gander at his menu, below.

There are 20 dishes — four each of starters, veg dishes, fish dishes, meat dishes and desserts, and the dish descriptions are more listy than descriptive, though techniques are mentioned here and there. Some of the ingredients may be more familiar than they sound, like ikura, which is salmon roe (the biggish orange-colored caviar you’ve probably seen or tasted in sushi bars); Arcana yolk refers to a chicken egg of the Arcana breed. Maitake is a mushroom that’s a delicacy in Japan — and yes, there are more than a few Japanese touches on the menu, like “ahi tombo” — a.k.a. tombo ahi, a.k.a. albacore tuna. Yuzu kosho and furikake are both Japanese condiments. There are Mediterranean and Northern European touches, too. Gruyère and allium custard? Allium simply refers to plants of the onion family, including leeks, shallots, garlics and such.

There’s also a 4-course, build-your-own fixed price menu for $60, or $90 including wine pairings. (In other words, choose your own dishes from the menu items.) And some cool-sounding bar snacks, like candied oxtail bao-bun with Fresno chile and crème fraîche, or Benton’s ham with pickled ramps and house mustard, or mustard- and cumin-glazed lamb ribs with roasted dates to go with a handful of craft cocktails.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d imagine McCallister will be cooking in a similar style to what he was doing as opening/consulting chef at the erstwhile Campo Modern Country Bistro, but that’s pure conjecture based on the ingredients mentioned.

Meanwhile, the billing of the chefs on the menu is refreshingly uncomplicated: just a chef (McCallister) and a pastry chef, Josh Valentine. No executive titles evoked on this one. Reservations are now being accepted at the number below; beginning tomorrow, you can reserve through Open Table. It’s open for dinner only, Tuesday-Saturday evenings.

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Restaurant Buzz

Shake a tail feather to Lisa Garza’s Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar at 2929 Henderson Avenue, now open for lunch as well as dinner. Now we can have chef Jeffrey Hobbs’ elegantly presented fried chicken, deviled eggs with caviar and squash puppies in broad daylight … Ser, the new steak house on the 27th floor of the Hilton Anatole, serves prime beef, fresh seafood, a world-class wine list and some of the best views in the city … When chef Matt McCallister unveils FT33 at 1617 Hi Line Drive in the Design District this month, we’ll be ordering pork jowl and parsnip, black truffle and mango; wild boar sloppy joes, cheddar fondue and pickles, topped off with a grand dessert from pastry chef Joshua Valentine (perhaps peanut butter with grapes, curry and raisins). Some nights, we might just drink and let GM and sommelier Ryan Tedder curate for us. We do have a soft spot for a good Corpse Reviver with Hendrick’s gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon and absinthe … Opening November 1 in The Shops at Park Lane, Bowl & Barrel is Dallas’ first boutique bowling alley with an American tavern pouring craft beers and intriguing cocktails, plus a 3,000-square-foot restaurant. SMU-grad owners Josh Sepkowitz and Kyle Noonan have 15 ace lanes.

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Matt McCallister

chef owner

Chef Matt McCallister thrives on the energy of the kitchen: an atmosphere that is at once chaotic and structured. After cooking in kitchens across the country, Matt found his home in Dallas at FT33, his first solo venture, which he opened at the age of 31 in October 2012. He quickly guided the restaurant to local acclaim, including earning a glowing five-star review from Dallas Morning News Restaurant Critic Leslie Brenner, and recognition of Restaurant of the Year by D magazine in December 2013. Matt and FT33 have since made waves on the national scale, including a spot on the 2013 Top 50 New Restaurant list from Bon Appétit, a 2014 Food & Wine Best New Chef nod, and a James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Best Chef Southwest 2014.

Matt has always had an artistic side and a love of food. Growing up, he enjoyed cooking at home and always tended to a large garden. When choosing his career path, he felt torn between the visual and culinary arts, and he attended the Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix in 2000 before ultimately choosing cooking. “Art was a passion that always competed with food, but cooking gives me an opportunity to blend the two,” says the Scottsdale, AZ, native, whose artistic sensibilities were influenced by his designer mother and scientific curiosity can be attributed to his research engineer father.

When not cooking at FT33, Matt can be found shopping at farmers’ markets, going on long runs, which he says is when most of his new menu ideas come to light, reading cookbooks, or catching a DnB show. His favorite time, though, is time spent with his daughter, Ella. The five-year-old enjoys shopping, hanging out at the park, reading, working on puzzles, and painting.

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Jeff Gregory

general manager ::: wine director

With a Master’s Degree in Business and more than twelve years of restaurant operations, staff training, and beverage management experience, Jeff Gregory brings his knowledge and expertise to FT33 as General Manager and Wine Director. Gregory, who is responsible for overseeing service and day-to-day operations and the beverage program at FT33, joins Executive Chef and Owner Matt McCallister with a positive attitude knowing that “this restaurant has the potential to be considered among the greatest restaurants in the country and I am glad to be a part of it in these early stages of growth.”

Gregory has always had a great love for food and wine which led him to begin working in restaurants while attending the University of Texas in Austin, where he began to work his way up the ranks of the local restaurant scene.
In 2006, Gregory graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy and continued his journey in the food and beverage industry by beginning a career in fine wine sales with Texas’ largest fine wine distributor. Quickly realizing that his favorite part of the job was providing wine and beverage staff training seminars, Gregory taught wine, beverage and restaurant management classes in culinary schools while also working as Consulting Wine Director for rise n°1, The Commissary, and other Dallas-area restaurants.

When Gregory is not at FT33, he can be found cooking for his family, reading and creating traditional black and white photographs and prints.

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Maggie Huff

Pastry Chef

Maggie Huff’s desserts offer FT33 guests a taste of something subtly sweet, reflecting a hyper-seasonality that has been the benchmark of Chef Matt McCallister’s critically acclaimed restaurant in the Dallas Design District. She considers herself fortunate to be able to get her hands on superior products such as local honey from Texas Honey Bee Guild, Caprino Royale fresh goat cheese, and produce from the same farmers sourced by the savory side of the restaurant. To that point, she isn’t afraid to employ savory elements—herbs, spices, and vegetables, as well as forms of acid, fat, and salt—to enhance the sweet flavors on the plate. The reason, Huff explains, always comes down to one word: balance. “I believe in there being a balanced finish to the meal,” says the pastry chef, who joined the team in March 2014. “Dessert shouldn’t be an afterthought, but a continuation of what you’ve had prior so that there is some cohesiveness to the entire dining experience. That’s important, and to accomplish that, the flavors all should be balanced. Nothing overly sweet or overly done.”

For instance, Huff often finds opportunities to incorporate cheese in desserts and usually offers a cleverly disguised cheese plate—something with savory cheese like goat, blue, or sharp cheddar, a playful element of in-season fruit, and a creative nutty component. Reflecting the seasons of Texas means her menus change regularly, with no dish lasting more than a few weeks. “Some desserts are short-lived, and some last a little longer,” she says. “Luckily, chocolate doesn’t have a season.”

Prior to FT33, Huff had the media swooning over her sophisticated desserts at Pyramid at the Fairmont Dallas. She originally met and worked with McCallister in the highly lauded kitchen of Stephan Pyles Restaurant. The Dallas native also had a stint in New York City, first attaining her culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute, then working the back of the house in several restaurants, doing both savory and pastry. Her love of food goes back even further: Huff has been baking since she was a kid, cultivating a curiosity in the kitchen while learning from her mother the importance of measuring ingredients.

Outside of work, Huff spends a lot of time in her home kitchen, and tending to the meat smoker, to entertain family and friends. The avid reader is also a self-professed New York Times crossword junkie.

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Bradford Hodgkins

FT33’s Chef de Cuisine, Bradford Hodgkins, grew up in South Texas where he spent his childhood hunting, fishing, and eating fresh meals with his family. Before pursuing his culinary passion, Hodgkins graduated from Texas A&M University, where he studied Industrial Distribution and Engineering Technology. After his tenure as a student, Hodgkins worked in multiple restaurants across Texas, and realized that his education would help him develop a unique management style in the kitchen.

Hodgkins’ love and appreciation for food reminds him of his family, who spent countless memorable evenings in the kitchen. He views cooking as “a celebration of seasons, a chance to honor a special event in someone’s life, and a time to look back at fond memories with others.”

As a self-taught chef, Hodgkins moved to Dallas in 2006 where he began working at Stephan Pyles alongside FT33’s current Executive Chef and Owner, Matt McCallister. He then followed Chef de Cuisine J Chastain to The Second Floor Bistro, where he served as Sous Chef under the direction of Scott Gottlich. There, Hodgkins developed relationships with local purveyors and helped build upon the strengths of a young staff. Soon after, Hodgkins returned to Stephan Pyles as Executive Sous Chef to McCallister.

Hodgkins defines success, explaining, “It’s not you watching me accomplish my goals, but instead it is me helping you accomplish yours.” Armed with this philosophy and an awareness of McCallister’s capabilities in the kitchen, Hodgkins has confidence that he can foster an atmosphere that will amplify the Chef’s creativity and artistic expression. When Hodgkins is not in the kitchen, he resides in Richardson, Texas and enjoys camping and backpacking with his wife and dog.

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Joel Orsini

From a young age, Chef Joel Orsini’s life has been centered around the kitchen. With a pair of skilled home cooks for parents and a family bond forged at the table, he learned to love food early on and dreamed of a career as a chef since age 12. This goal drove him to the Culinary Institute of America and positions in kitchens throughout New York City, gaining expertise that he would eventually bring him back to his home state of Texas.

During his time in New York, Joel served as Sous Chef at Beacon Restaurant, where he trained under Chef Waldy Malouf and gained an intimate knowledge of open-fire cooking, which he considers now a foundation of his culinary style. He then joined the team at Jean-Georges, where he helped maintain the restaurant’s three-Michelin star record. Returning to Texas, he played an integral part in some of Austin’s most respected kitchens, including Uchiko and Foreign & Domestic. His curiosity of the state’s food culture brought him to Dallas.
Now Sous Chef at FT33, he maintains the simple and passionate approach to food that he cultivated at the family table. His focus is on suffusing dishes with the careful attention and love that truly create a memorable meal. His goal is for guests to experience “a feeling of comfort like walking into the home of a close friend.” Joel has made contributions to the opening of our sister restaurant, Filament and we are now excited to have his experience in the FT33 kitchen.

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Dallas’ 15 Most Anticipated Fall Openings

Fall is (sort of) in the air, and with the changing of the seasons comes a slew of new restaurant openings. The coming weeks and months will see new projects from superstar chefs Stephan Pyles and John Tesar, a near-complete overhaul of One Arts Plaza, and makeovers of not one but four hotel restaurants.

Location: Design District
Description: The much-anticipated new project from Matt McCallister will open in the Design District sometime in October. Brady Williams has departed the Spillers Group (Oddfellows, Eno’s, Union Bear) to come on board as sous chef, while Ryan Tedders from Grace in Fort Worth will act as general manager. According to a press release, the restaurant will have an “industrial design aesthetic” and the menu will feature items such as “Short Stack of Uni and Chive Pancakes with bonito aioli and yuzu kosho” and “Pork Jowl with parsnip, black truffle, parsley, and mango”, in addition to a selection of bar snacks such as wild boar sloppy joes.
Opening Date: October

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