Love and Food in the Big D

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Chef Chad Kelley - New Executive Chef at Cafe Pacific

As some of you may or may not know.. (from reading our blog or just by being in our lives for more than a MINUTE ;).. you'll know that Mr. Kelley, my better half and partner in a damn fine chef.  One of Dallas' finest actually... and for the better part of the six years that we've both lived in Dallas, he's worked his butt off to try and make a name for himself.  As Executive Chef of the Oceanaire Seafood Room for over three years and as Executive Chef of the Meddlesome Moth for just over 2, he continuously gave his all to make each restaurant a success.  His ambition, creativity and constant need to recreate his craft is amazing.  Unwavering actually.  He never stops researching, he never stops trying new things... focused on food and the strong desire to create new and exciting dishes for the masses.  

So it's really no surprise that one of Dallas' most established and well known restaurants would seek out one of the best in the industry. (Biased??.. sure, why not!? ;) But now that the cat is officially out of the bag... press releases have gone out and Dallas food blogs have made their announcements across the internet world, we can finally say, (after a few weeks of keeping mum) that Chef Chad Kelley is the NEW Executive Chef of Cafe Pacific in Highland Park Village.. a Dallas landmark for over 32 years!  

Right on the heels of the birth of our daughter, Chad stepped into his new role just yesterday..  narrowly escaping the onslaught of poopie diapers and night time feedings.  Lucky dad.. not so lucky, super tired mommy... lol.  

Regardless, we're ALL proud of you Love...Congratulations!  Hope you have a great first week of work.  We miss you already :)  (And you can bet Little Miss Everleigh will have a nice "surprise" waiting for you when you get home tonight ;)  

Read more from just some of the blogs that have come out in the last two days.. 

For the original posting on Guide Live's Eats Blog, click here... (or read below)

Can new chef Chad Kelley bring luster to Cafe Pacific?

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Cafe Pacific's dining room (staff file)
Back in July, I wrote a Critic’s Notebook column about a string of terrible experiences I had dining in the Bubble. One of the experiences I mentioned in the essay was at Cafe Pacific, where I suffered through a ceviche comprised of “rubbery bay scallops interspersed with unidentifiable bits of crustacean (shrimp? crab?), all soaked in lime and decorated with pallid, out-of-season diced tomato,” lemon sole amandine drowned in butter, and halibut with a terrible texture that made me think it had been poorly frozen. There were serious service issues, to boot. The chef had left since I dined there, I mentioned in the story, and the restaurant was seeking his replacement.
A couple weeks after the story ran, I received an email from Cafe Pacific’s owner, Jack Knox, who wrote that in regards to the criticism,  ”I always take it to heart. I believe that it is meant to be constructive criticism , and we will try to fix the problems.” He also mentioned that after my story was published, he received a “‘Niagara Falls’ of resumes, including about twelve currently employed executive chefs and two from your Top Chefs list!”
Chad Kelley, in 2008 when he was chef at the Oceanaire Seafood Room (staff file)
Well, Knox has brought a new chef on board: Chad Kelley. He started yesterday. A little background: Kelley opened the Meddlesome Moth as executive chef; prior to that, he headed the kitchen at the Oceanaire Seafood Room. When I reviewed the Moth (awarding it two stars), I loved a couple of his dishes — a rabbit pot pie with beech mushrooms and mustard greens and an appetizer of cornmeal pancakes topped with shredded 5-spice pork belly, cilantro and pickled carrots. I never had the opportunity to taste his cooking at Oceanaire, but no doubt that seafood experience will pay off in his new gig.
Over the weekend, Knox shared with me (and others) an email exchange between him and Kelley, which provides an interesting inside glimpse of the restaurant’s inner workings. This is a note from the chef to Knox:
Jack, we are all set for Monday.  I will check in with David or Vincent when I arrive around 9 am to chat with them before heading into the kitchen. I will gather the cooks and introduce myself and let them know what my expectations are.  Once set up I will walk the kitchen with the sous chef on that day.  Tasting sauces, asking questions and getting acclimated. I will make sure to be a part of the pre shift with the service staff as well.  I will make myself open for comments, during appropriate times, and let them know our plan to get things back on track. My first few days will be observing, making changes as needed and ensuring consistent plates leave the kitchen.  I will also perform a facility audit, review previous health inspections and start getting acquainted with vendors.
One request I will have for David and Vincent is to gather contact information for regulars they have not seen in a while or who have had some complaints lately. Once we get some things back to were we want them I would like to call them personally and invite them back in as well as solicit some feedback.
Lastly, when would you like to sit down with Anne to review menu changes and get this Steakhouse style implemented?
A couple things to note. First, Knox tells me he did not make any management changes, and here the chef is taking it upon himself to address complaints from diners. And second,  Kelley refers to a new “steakhouse style.” I asked Knox about this, and he responded: “People still love steaks, and our signature pepper steak has been a very big seller for twenty or more years, so we intend to give our customers more steak options and buy the necessary equipment to do the steaks properly.” He also mentioned that it will probably take Kelley a couple of months “before he can reshape the kitchen to his standards.” Anne McCann Greer worked with the prior executive chef, Bill Trevino, to revamp the menu, and Kelley will continue to work with Greer as well.
Or head over to D Magazine's Side Dish Blog here (or again.. read below)

Chad Kelley Named Executive Chef at Cafe Pacific in Dallas

Some folks believe the sweet potato fry was invented at Cafe Pacific. Others do not care.
Today, chef Chad Kelley begins his new job: executive chef at the 32-year old Café Pacific in Highland Park Village. Kelley was at the helm years at The Oceanaire Seafood Room at the Galleria for six years before leaving in November 2009 to open the kitchen for Meddlesome Moth. He left that post in December 2011 and has been very busy: he is a new father to his just-born daughter, Everleigh.
Kelley takes over an established kitchen with a new menu developed by  Gang of Fivechef/consultant  Anne Greer McCann and CP’s former chef Bill Trevino, who departed for Austin. Kelley’s got the seafood touch, but we’ll have wait and see how he fits with the  Texas twists, including steaks, on the new menu.

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