Ever wonder what other foodies are thinking? Me too! Special thanks to Louis Vasquez for participating this time around.
1. Where do you currently reside? Dallas, TX
2. How many years did you live in Little Rock? 19 years
3. What’s been the most pleasant surprise with the Dallas food scene? Brunch. I wasn’t really accustomed to it in Little Rock, but there are fantastic places all around Dallas that do brunch. There is usually some great fusion going on too, or a particular restaurant’s take on a classical dish to make it unique that I love. Btw…the chicken and waffles at Jonathan’s Oak Cliff is a must try.
4. Where’s the best place you’ve eaten in the past year, and what did you order? Lucia, which I got to enjoy with you and Daniel! My dinner went as follows: I started with the Salumi Mista (speck fennel and orange salami, lengua ventricina, wild boar fiocco, and chicken liver and n’duga crostini). For my Primi, I had the Anson Mills Otto file polenta with a pork ragu, black trumpets and an egg. For my Secondi, I did what may be my best bite of the year…the Berkshire pork belly and tenderloin with Swiss chard and charred onions. Just an all around fantastic meal that was accompanied by the Cocchi wine house inspired cocktails as well. I also thought the service was fantastic. I believe we met 5-6 different severs and an ending meal satisfaction check by the owner.
5. What is your favorite airport eatery? Tough question…I ‘m usually running late or trying to eat healthy when traveling for work, but one of my favorite spots is the Great Dane Pub in the Madison, WI airport. They do a great burger, house made pretzels with dipping sauces, and fried cheese curds, and of course…great freshly brewed beer.
6. There’s a rumor you make awesome pizza…self-taught? That’s a good rumor to hear about! I, like many others, love pizza…and even more so prefer the Neopolitan-style. When I had it for the first time about eight years ago, I knew I had to figure out how to make it. Eight years later (and many trial and errors), I have finally gotten my dough turning out like a Neo-pizza. In my opinion, it’s as close as you can get without having a firestone oven. I certainly believe in he phrase: “All pizza is good, some is just better than others!” A Naples trip is in order soon to taste the real deal!
7. You have to put together a 3-course meal (app, entree, and dessert) from three different Little Rock restaurants. What would be your choices to create this perfect meal? Wow, if I still lived there this would be even more difficult. I’m going to take this in a direction of what I crave unique to Little Rock now that I live in Dallas. I would start with the spicy chicken and dumplings from The Southern Gourmasion. I have yet to find something as unique as this dish anywhere. For my entree, I’d go with the Big Orange chicken sandwich (I’m a burger guy and that is how I much I love this sandwich because we all know how good their burgers are). I would end with a grand marnier soufflé from Arthur’s. By the way, it was really hard not to mention the gyros calzone or gyros plate from Layla’s, so that is my “if I was still hungry option.”
8. If you could jump in a plane this very second…where would you go and what would you eat? Santa Barbara, CA (for sure)…and my first stop (as always) is my family’s restaurant The Rose Cafe. It is where my love for cooking began as I tried to reproduce all my favorite dishes. I would start with their chips and salsa, then move to the tender chile verde omelette and a side of their very unique pancakes. I would stack them up against any. Last, but not least, a to-go order of their breakfast potatoes and enough combination burritos to get me through the rest of my morning there.
9. Could you tell us about the business you ran in college? Sure! So, as I was studying business and had a growing passion for food, I decided to combine the two. The ever famous Dickson Street is packed Thursday-Saturday with college students drinking and partying. I decided to start a business around serving up those late night munchies with a food cart. I used my Nana’s inspired recipes and flew in my favorite tortillas (they are life changing) from Tucson, AZ. We also did several events, from corporate sponsored catering to music festivals. Although, nothing was more rewarding (and I believe a main reason as to why people love the business they run) than the opportunity to directly affect peoples lives. Our experience with Fayettegrille was when Joplin was suddenly hit with tornadoes. There was little doubt we needed to go help being so close. My dad stopped and loaded up at Sam’s and we spent a day there giving away free food that we cooked up at a local church. No payment we ever received was more rewarding than the hugs we got that day.
10. Which dead famous person would you love having dinner with? This might be the easiest question for me. It would be Steve Jobs. I am a business junky and am really out to learn as much as I can each and every day. A philosophy I follow is to learn the most from those who did it “best” not good or decent but the “best” before you so you can adapt your personal craft to their teachings. Steve Jobs is the epitome for the business mind and strategy that I enjoy, so getting the chance to pick his brain over dinner would be my choice, not to mention he made some decent change in his time and I think we could run a nice tab at the French Laundry!