Q&A: Johnnie Walker

46649198_10214665012072565_6091203338802561024_n.jpgby Steven Doyle

Coffee House  Cafe was recently sold by the owners and is being given a face lift and a new menu. The grand re-opening is tonight (October 1, 2019) and is being driven by mega chef, Johnnie Walker. You may know of this chef, but for others we have questions.

Good afternoon, chef. What have you been up to recently?

Recently the Coffee House Cafe was purchased by Tonya Reece from Indiana who previously was a leader in the 3D printing industry.

And your grand re-opening is tonight, what have you prepared for us?

Quite a bit. We are picking up on the obvious strengths of the cafe with an all  day brunch, a simpler menu, plenty of in-house baked goods including a free coffee cake that is served with  each entree. I have an assortment of Benedicts, delicious Mexican breakfast plates, and many chef driven items with more  to come. We do not want a typical brunch here.

That really does sound terrific. What other changes might we look forward to at Coffee House?

Ms. Reece has invested an additional 250,000 dollars, so a big overhaul of decor has taken place. We have put in for a full liquor license, so not just wine and beer anymore. I will have an excellent Bloody Mary, as well as Sangrias and $2 mimosas all day. We will feature plenty of live music.

But we had a lot of repairs to perform. The kitchen has been remodeled, the very expensive coffee systems have been repaired.  The systems we have are these beautiful Italian machines that only a few hundred were even made. Parts are scarce, but we sent them out for repairs.

Since our owner has this amazing background in 3D printing, we plan to have 3D pancakes printed, probably table-side. Actual pancakes printed that are edible.

This all sounds fun. The location is actually very convenient in all directions and just off the tollway at Frankford. 

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What is your background?

Like many chefs I started in this business at a young age in Pittsburgh working up from a busboy at a hotel where this incredible Italian chef took me under his wing. I went from busboy to waiter and eventually left, only to get a call back from the chef asking if I was serious about this business. He took me in and gave me great training. I eventually went to the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park for a formal education.

I worked at the Delano Hotel in Miami at the now closed but famous Blue Door.  I worked  Henry’s  in West Palm Beach. Then I moved to Austin to work at Maria Maria. I also worked at Mama Foos, a small chain, to develop training. Then I  moved to Dallas to do plenty of catering. I have designed some menus such as the one at Sushi Marque in Frisco  and Felix Culpa on Henderson.

That is really impressive. What do you like to eat in Dallas when you get a break?

Anything Stephan Pyles. I love the honey chicken at Stampede 66 [Plano].  Whiskey Cake has a great menu, and I like 60 Vines. I even like Velvet Taco!

Most  chefs I know have a back seat full of Whataburger wrappers.

Guilty.

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71495225_516427858924570_1815856690361270272_n

71281838_465184870737084_6919910685790961664_nphotos from the Coffee House Cafe reboot

What do you do in your downtime? 

I can play some instruments, and have been in some bands. I like hard rock, blues, and even country. I like going to shows in Deep Ellum, but I am sober now. I still have fun, but do not drink.

There are some chefs who like to party, and I love getting out there to hear bands, but there are some sober chefs. It can be done. Years ago I had a drinking problems, I was on my third DWI and was facing prison time.  I hit rock bottom. I went into AA and worked it, and the universe responded. The judge retired and I was  given a second chance on life and I stay free from alcohol. It can be done, even in this industry.

Again, very impressive. Let’s end this on a weird not. What is in your refrigerator at home?

Not much! Red Bull and coffee. No, wait. I have some ribs I will be smoking.

Thank you chef, and much success on the Coffee House Cafe reboot, it sound truly marvelous.

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Filed under Crave, Steven Doyle

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