Up Close and Personal with Matt McCallister
Some people are obsessed with sports. But if you’re like me, it’s all about food and for this food fanatic, the James Beard Foundation Awards are the “Super Bowl of Everything Food.” When it was announced that none of the JBF Semifinalist Chefs and other category nominees from “Team Dallas” made it to the final round, I was bummed to say the least. I reached out to Matt McCallister, David Ugyur and John Tesar recently to hear their thoughts on the Dallas shut out. What they had to say may surprise you.
I’ll never forget the first time I met Matt McCallister. He was packing up at the end of an event (not related to a restaurant). We had never met and I did not know who he was. I heard him say “I gotta hurry up and get home to butcher a goat.” I turned to him and implored, “Please tell me you’re a chef, and you are not involved some sort of satanic cult ritual or something.” He replied, waiving his hands emphatically, “Oh no, no, I’m a chef, I’m a chef!” – true story.
Matt has come a long way since he burst on to the Dallas dining scene a little more than four years ago during his first solo gig at Campo (formerly in Bishop Arts). He stands out because of his passion and eccentric creativity, starting with the seasonal ingredients he meticulously selects, sometimes foraging or even growing himself, peculiar protein choices, using cuts of meat often overlooked, right down to drawing out precisely how a dish should appear when plated.
I asked McCallister about his recent JBF nod and the Dallas snub. Here’s what he had to say, “Its’ been a crazy year since opening FT33. I don’t know, its nice to get recognition, especially when you work 90-100 hours every week and you’re just trying to put out the best food you know how to. I’m blown away by all the accolades we’ve received. We’ve got a great team. I think Ugyer and Tesar are both doing really great things and it’s also nice to see so many friends I know across the country being nominated as well.”
Chef McCallister hosts Guest Chef Dinners at FT33 on the third Monday of each month, he recently hosted a dinner with JBF Finalist – Best Chef Southwest, Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine (Austin). But never fear, coming up on June 16th he will host another with JBF Finalist – Best Chef Northeast, Matt Jennings of Farmstead (Rhode Island). Later this year on August 18th, you can also catch JBF Semifinalist – Best Chef Southwest, Seth Siegel-Gardner of Pass and Provisions (Houston).
Matt’s not too sad about the JBF shut out though, last week he was named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef of 2014, he went on to say, “Even though Dallas is out of JBF this year, it’s still great to see so many Texas and especially Dallas restaurants progressing really fast in the dining scene. I’d like to see less quantity of restaurants openings but an even higher caliber restaurants opening in Dallas to keep that going and evolving from here.”
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1617 Hi Line Drive, Suite 250
Dallas, TX 75207
Twitter: @FT33Dallas @ChefMattMcCallister