We recently announced that chef Vijay Sadhu was appointed chef at the curious restaurant in the W Hotel, Cook Hall. Curious because like many businesses in the Victory area it seems to have a bit of an identity crisis, but we feel that the addition of Sadhu will bring a welcome change of sophistication and international flair to Cook Hall.
The job of the chef at the W not only includes Cook Hall, but also room service for breakfast, lunch and dinner, service the Living Room Bar, as well as furnish meals for the residents. This is a big job that runs around the clock.
You will recall Sadhu from several local restaurants, including Sutra and Pepper Smash which he owned, and opened Stephan Pyles Samar on Ross downtown. The chef has also trained and worked internationally, and he brings to Dallas a wealth of industry knowledge which has gone somewhat untapped. We have yet to receive the full on version of Sadhu’s talent, but that hopefully will change now that he has landed in an environment more suited to display his capabilities. We needed Sadhu out of the suburbs and into a kitchen that feeds an international palate.
Without trying to enter my vision of what Cook Hall should be, which would include late night curries that can be found in a true English gastropub, I sat with Sadhu for a bit to get a feel for his vision for the restaurant at the W Hotel in Victory.
Where have you been for the past few months?
I thought I needed to leave Dallas and travel around a bit. I met up with a friend of mine from Atlanta and took a road trip to Savannah, Atlanta, Charleston and Mississippi. I really got into the southern cuisine like okra, collard greens, the beans. I spent a week with a chef in Atlanta at South End Kitchen. There I began to understand what southern food is all about. He took me around to the local mom and pop restaurants and to his hometown near Savannah. I spent weeks picking up these different techniques.
How is southern cuisine different than what you have been cooking?
It is very strong and flavorful than that of say French cuisine. It actually reminds me of what I was doing back home [India]. That really inspired me. Like okra, I use that a lot in my Indian cooking. The spices, like in a spicy fried chicken.
How does this translate into what you are doing now?
You know, I actually went into homes of southern cooks and it really got into my head. I was inspired. There is so much I can do with this type of cuisine which is so popular right now. At Cook Hall they wanted someone who could come in and create outside of the box. And as you know, I am all about big, bold flavors and a very nice plate. We are doing a lot of research still, and playing like kids to create a new menu that will be out very soon. I want to keep it all simple, organic as possible, from local source. That is my mindset.
I know you do not want to be typecast as a chef who can only make a vindaloo. But a part of me wants your vindaloo.
I do want to have a bit of an international flair to the menu, but I want to play on my knowledge of southern cooking, not only from my recent travels, but from the time I spent with Stephan [Pyles] and Tim Byres and make it my own. I will have Texas cuisine on the menu. But we also make our own garam masala in house. I will have some of the Indian stuff, but really look for more local flavors. This is Dallas and people expect a big burger and steak, so there will be some of that.