By Steven Doyle
Jimmy was a brilliant cook. He’d come up with Brendan Walsh at Arizona 206, and the food he turned out in his brief time working there was so good. I’d stay after my shift was over, sit at the bar and order dinner and pay for it. Seeing what Jimmy could do in the kitchen really inspired me; I’d been slinging hash for way too long, and tasting a real demi-glace again, eating new, exciting food, seeing new presentations, made me remember what I’d enjoyed about food in the first place. – Anthony Bourdain, in his expose on his cheffy exploits, Kitchen Confidential.
In Bourdain’s more recent book, Medium Raw, we learned that this “Jimmy” he refers to in his first novel is Dallas’ very own chef John Tesar, who Bourdain claims is the “best chef but with a self-destructive streak.”
For the uninitiated, Tesar is the crazy-good chef who made a huge splash as the oldest casted contestant for Top Chef in Season 10. He has more recently been embattled with Dallas Morning News food critic Leslie Brenner which has made plenty of national headlines.
However, and more important, Tesar was the wizard behind Spoon, a now-defunct seafood restaurant elevated to the heights which Dallas have never seen. The restaurant closed for several reasons, but none having to do with the amazing quality of the meals he was producing. Tesar claims we will see this restaurant once again at a more high profile location.
Tesar also operates Knife, the beautifully refreshing steakhouse located in the Highland Dallas Hotel on Mockingbird. Knife actually is a steakhouse meant for all people from every economic stature. Sure, you may enjoy a giant haunch of ribeye that has been aged for 240 days in the Tesar meat locker, and sells for $80 per inch. But you also may select from a large grouping of “new school” cuts including a beautiful Tri Tip ($25), a Flat Iron ($25) and one of our favorites, the Grilled Short Rib ($29). All come from the beef experts at 44 Farms.
Each setting is adorned with a plate of iced crudité paired with a slab of house-made beef jerky. Fantastic touch, which is the genius part of Tesar. He truly thinks of every moment of your dining experience.
No meal at Knife is complete without experiencing the platter of bacon that is a representation of five different styles of bacon, and varies depending on what is available. It is interesting to enjoy this grouping of bacon, and define the differences. The bacon board also comes with a warm pile of bacon jam meant to be spread on the various slices of breads that are offered.
In addition to a large offering of steaks, you will find Tesar is the master at the burger. Look for several versions, including the Magic which is a throwback to his burger-flipping days as a child in the Hamptons.
We asked Tesar a few questions:
What is the best dish you have eaten?
Everything I eat at Le Bernardin or at Mugaritz in Spain. I have a hard time deciding.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Traveling and eating in the best restaurants in the world and from “real authentic ethnic and street foods.”
What was your childhood ambition?
Pro surfer-skate boarder-snowboarder and a rock star. When I go back home to the Hamptons every summer I still surf and jam with the boys.
How many drinks does it take for Anthony Bourdain to pass out?
Flaco would never pass out. Or throw up for that matter. It’s against his religion.