Q&A With Stark Raving Chef Patrick Stark

patrickby Steven Doyle

Chef Patrick Stark is passionate about everything he encounters. be it life, music, art and food. He takes each of these subjects extremely seriously, and embraces to the core. Stark is the executive chef at the Sundown at Granada located on Greenville Avenue, and there he focuses much on clean food, free of GMO’s, organic as possible, seasonal, grass-fed, and even gluten free. Stark is fanatical when it comes to his sources. He is also the Grand Poobah of the Mohawk Malitia, and organization dedicated to raise awareness to genetically modified food, and has teamed up with the North Texas Food Bank. All proceeds generated from sales of Mohawk Militia patches and stickers will go to purchasing fresh food from local farmers in feeding inner city folks who don’t have access to supermarkets.

We had a chance to visit with chef Patrick Stark this week, and uncovered some new news surrounding he chef, and picked his brain on GMO’s and much more.   

Crave: How did you get into this whole cheffing thing?

Stark: It pretty much started when I was younger working at a restaurant dish washing and busing tables. One night one of the line cooks didn’t show up and they gave me an opportunity to work on the line. I found I really liked the camaraderie of hanging around dudes, listening to heavy metal, and kind of the whole brotherhood thing.  I ended up graduating a year early from high school, and the only way my father allowed me to leave high school early was if I had a career. The only thing I knew at that point was cooking. I ended up at the Culinary Institute of America.

Crave: Not just a chef, but you played in a band. How did that come about?

Stark: When I graduated I was working for a company opening restaurants. They always promised me the next one would be mine, and I kept chasing the proverbial carrot. It kind of dawned on me at this time that I did not want to wake up in my middle to late 30’s, where I am now, and say “honey, I want to start a band”. I knew there was a great music scene in Dallas, and my last consulting  job at that point was in Detroit. So I packed everything I could in my car and moved to Dallas. I started bartending and private cheffing when I got into town.

I was bartending at this place on lower Greenville and on night this band came in. I was thinking they were a bunch of wankers, but lo and behold I started roadying for them  in my free time, and I eventually auditioned and got a spot in the band six months after I moved here. From there I played in a band called Strangleweed, one of the best known bands I played for. they were kind of the Spinal Tap of Dallas, and had this rotating list of members. We were playing at the Bone every Friday, and we had an opportunity to play before Styx with a crow of 30,000 people.

You know, everyone should do something for others that isn’t self-serving or self-gratifying. — Chef Patrick Stark

Crave: What brought you back into the kitchen full time?

Stark: Shortly after the musical stint I went down to Mexico to help open a pseudo Cirque du  Soleil dinner and a show type of deal. They had three properties. It was interesting to work in a third world country where they had a different culture, and different language. I can read and listen in Spanish, an speak a little. I can speak very good kitchen Spanish. I ended up coming back after two and a half years, and at that point I had the opportunity to help pen Gina Campisi’s place [Fedora in One Arts Plaza].

Crave: That project was plagued with financial and other issues, and you left the project just before opening. Then you went you went on to design a new place in Coppell that didn’t quite work out due to more financial issues. with the owners. Is this something that every young chef must experience?

Stark: I was just a magnet over those three years to people that have never really opened a restaurant. It is a difficult thing to convince the owners the logic of why, and not just my opinion, is a difficult thing to do. But at that time my drummer who I was recording with told me hat the chef at the Grenada just left. At that time Sundown wasn’t open. I was basically trouble shooting what the bands was eating, and fed the crowd.

Crave: What do bands typically get fed?


Stark: Oh, we treat them very well. But typically a bad will get this sweaty Pepperidge Farm cheese and sausage platter, a 10 pound bag of pretzels and a $10 per diem for the bar. No, we feed he bands very will. They are getting free-range chicken, quinoa, local cheese platters, they are getting the best of what we serve at Sundown.

Crave: You are a fan of local chef and owner of 20 Feet Seafood Joint, Marc Cassel.

Stark: On the current menu I gave a shout out to Marc on our bacon marmalade on our scallops. He has been a tremendous big brother and a tremendous help in opening Sundown. 20 Feet is killing it over there, and I am so happy t see him go o to the next chapter of his life. he is like the 6 Million Dollar Man, you can hear the sound effects as he moves across his kitchen, I love him.

Crave: You also admire Dean Fearing.

Stark: That guy is such a legend, even when I was going to school I heard how this guy would walk around and be able to touch every single table. For my charity Mohawk Militia I would like to do some dinners,. Maybe Dean cold join me and we could play some music. That would be awesome.

Crave: Television.

Stark: Television. I did two episodes of episodes of Cutthroat Kitchen, I did ABC’s The Taste season two, which I had about five minutes of airtime. That was interesting. As far as The Taste goes, if you had any credentials as a chef, you walked in with a giant target on your ass. But the exposure was awesome, I had a great time, and I got to meet some really cool chefs.

Crave: More television in store that we don’t know about yet?

Stark: A few things. I have this new show coming out on the Food Network called Rewrapped. It’s with Marc Summers and Joey Fatone, that is going to be a fun one. On this show you have to replicate one of America’s classic snacks. What’s funny is they know I am all anti-GMO. I was like how do I recreate this Twinkee without science? The second round you ad to take that ingredient and make it into a new dish. It is very lighthearted.

I also have a hosting opportunity right now with a major network where they are going to send me all over the world and discover different kinds of meat. The goal is to go out there and fin recipes and bring them back to the kitchen at Sundown. It’s pretty funny when I walk down the street here in Dallas, and people will whip their heads around and say,”who is that”. Now imagine if you put me in a third world country. But give me a backpack and an acoustic guitar and send me out to fish with Eskimos and teach them how to play “Beat It”.


Crave: Word on the street is that there is a new executive chef at Sundown.

Stark: How do you find this stuff out? Chef Billy Cooper has really paid his dues and been here from the beginning day one with owners Mike, Julia and myself. Our chemistry is amazing to say the least and am blessed to have met him. He’s a great creative chef that’s very passionate about seasonality, flavors, technique, and presentation. With all the great and exciting new events that Sundown will be launching, including our new seasonal Spring and Summer menu May 15, we realize that this is a lot to tackle and we are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with.

So we decided that we are going to tag team Sundown together as co-head chefs with intentions in producing the best food and service we can. Like in the movie Tommy Boy, you’re either growing or you’re dying. The owners and staff fully intend on growing (business and personal journeys) and putting more green on Greenville.

Crave: What’s the deal with the Mohawk Militia?

Stark: You know, everyone should do something for others that isn’t self-serving or self-gratifying. With the GMO thing it is just something that future generations are going to inherit. And there is really no reversal. Once you cross contaminate everything, you can’t go back. People ask me if I am Republican or Democrat and I say neither, just don’t lie to me. If we can label alcohol and tobacco, why aren’t we being more transparent with our food? The FDA is supposed to regulate and they are not.

The grossest thing, and what made me want to start the charity is that we eat this food, or the animals eat this GMO food then we eat the animal, we get sick or get cancer. It’s a big cycle. What is what is sad is that these companies like Monsanto, DuPont that makes these GMO foods, they also create the pharmaceuticals that can cure this. It’s not about anything noble like solving world hunger, it is about making more money. If you control the food, you control the people.

There just needs to be a better exposure and education about our food. Instead of finger wagging, I am just going to start in my own back yard.

You do not need a Mohawk to join the Mohawk Militia. Check out the website for more information, and see how you can make a difference.


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