by Steven Doyle
Cooler temps always means warm chili and the good people at the Granada (both theater and Sundown) took advantage of the weekend by importing a gathering of chefs to stir excitement into their inaugural cookoff.
Sunday we found chefs from around the city including Graham Dodds (Wayward Sons), Oliver Sitrin (Blind Butcher), Patton Robertson (Cafe Momentum), Jason West (Sundown at Granada), and Troy Gardner (V-Eats).
The chefs cooked up their favorite recipes in a solid downpour of rain while the crowd slowly marched in, which eventually filled in with a good gathering.
The bands played on throughout the day, and there were some terrific tunes from the likes of Convoy and the Cattlemen, think Texas country meets rock meets pastor tacos with a slab of fiddling to get the crowd moving. Charlie Robison (think Beautiful Day) did his thing along with Cody Canada and the Departed, Slobberbone and many more bands that rocked into the night.
Samples of chili went into our mouths as we danced a bit and enjoyed the cool breeze of the subsided rain.
Dodds sampling Gardner’s chili
The chili was interesting. Dodds did his now famous beet chili, something that grew in infamy at Chefs for Farmers. It is really good chili, and oddly similar to his killer bowl of red which is packed with beef. People are requesting this version and it seems to have a life of its own. Such as life with chefs, just ask Fearing who would be hard pressed to deny a guest a bowl of his tortilla soup.
Gardner owns the new vegan restaurant in Trinity Groves and intrigued international waters with his “beef” brisket. The story went mega-viral that Texans were dining on vegan brisket. Admittedly, the brisket looks like a side of cow. The genius of the chef shines with that plate. For the cookoff, he offered a fairly traditional bowl with beans as the star of the program. It had a nice spice factor and was sincerely delicious, even for this chili purist.
Robertson has thyme for Chato’s chili
Moving down the line to Patton Robertson (I hear that name I think General Tso quail and lacquered duckling from his previous gig at Five Sixty). But alas, the talented chef is carrying the weight at Dallas’ darling, Cafe Momentum. Robertson’s chili was more bowl of red than nay tasted. Very traditional, especially when matched with a double dose of vegan chili (not that there is anything wrong with kicked up vegan recipes).
Paddling West for chili
I sincerely love chili cook-offs, and Sundown’s own chef Jason West tore it up with another traditional red. West does a refined menu at Sundown. The owners of Sundown and Granada have a terrific palate, having dined with both Julia Garton and Mike Schoder. They enjoy food and bring both super refined dishes both omnivore and vegan to Dallas diners.
Six minutes later this chef was riding a bull
Then there is Oliver Sitrin. Competitor. The chef worked a week on his chili mixing in a whole host of critters including lamb, pork and beef. His chili was so delicious that he sold out quickly, possibly to his undoing. The chili Sitrin made was superb. Since the chef ran out early he used the time to entertain his staff by riding a mechanical bull multiple times. I think I counted thirteen times. A true trooper. Look for his new menu in coming weeks, and be sure to say howdy to the chef that fears no cattle, living or mechanical.
In the end the people spoke with their votes, and the vegan chili took top prize, which goes to show you that this city’s palate is changing. No longer does the chef need to bring out his prized bull at every meal. We are warming up to the veggies, and good for Dallas.