For chef John Tesar, currently competing on Top Chef: Seattle, opening a seafood restaurant in Dallas was like coming home.
"I grew up on the East End of Long Island, was a surfer and fisherman, and lived that life for many years," Tesar said in an interview with The Daily Meal. "I grew up eating fish that I’d just caught, and this restaurant is really going back to what I love to do. I’ve lived in Dallas for five years, this is where my family is, and this is where I love to be."
Tesar’s new restaurant, Spoon Bar & Kitchen, opened Nov. 9 in Dallas, Texas, a city not accustomed to eating super-fresh fish in a variety of preparations including raw, smoked, preserved, and pickled. But that’s just the way he wanted it.
"For lots of our guests, this is something new and different," he said. "We fly in our fish directly from California, and don’t use any local purveyors. When you walk in, you don’t smell fish, and that’s the way it should be."
Tesar drew from his more than 20 years of experience in the industry for inspiration, including running noted seafood chef Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood in New York and Las Vegas.
"We’re emulating the great seafood restaurants in New York, like Le Bernardin," he said, though making clear that he’s not putting himself on the same level as Eric Ripert.
"Almost every night guests tell me that they used to have to go to New York City for food like this," he said. "That’s the greatest compliment I can receive."