I received a text recently from Chef Andre Natera, my favorite Zen chef, stating that he is taking leave from the Fairmont Dallas to “spend time with family and focus on some other things”. Natera is one super talented chef who had a goal to create a network of chefs throughout the community for the common good and to develop young talent.
The utopian chef idea was that there would be this exchange of ideas, and chefs, to make Dallas a stronger restaurant city. There were a few late night chef “summits” where they collectively cooked for each other and chatted about new ideas, and they proved extremely interesting.
Natera ran one of the top kitchens in the Dallas area, employing classic French technique. His restaurant, The Pyramid, drew high praise from area critics and for good reason. The man can cook.
It wasn’t long ago that Natera lost his Canadian sous chef Paul Peddle as he made his way back up north, who by the way made me the best piece of fish I have ever put in my mouth. I am looking forward to where Natera lands, and only hope that he remains in our city. The question now is who will take reigns at the Fairmont? Natera leaves bigger boots to fill than Big Tex.
*Update: After we ran this story (as did DMN’s Kim Pierce on the Eats blog) Natera posted this on his Facebook wall:
Well since it is already in print I have decided to leave the Fairmont my last day was this past Friday. I have made some great friends and relationships there however I want to focus on me and my family for a bit and spend some time with them through the holidays. I have not given up cooking and I will find ways to still stay involved in the Dallas chef community through charity events, pop up dinners, consulting, cooking classes and lecture. I leave behind an extremely talented team in the kitchen who made the past almost 3 years some of the best of my culinary career.
For now I am going to take it slow and weigh my options and make the decision based on where I can impact the most people through the work I do in the kitchen. Creativity, mentoring and feeding people and working with people who appreciate finesse and technique is my goal.
I am now going to enjoy free agency for a while 🙂