Chef Matt McCallister’s Play at The Second Floor in Dallas

Playing Chefs: J. Chastain and Matt McCallister, photo by Robert Bostick.

The ubiquitous Steven “Dallas Dude” Doyle is tagging along with chef Matt McCallister as he begins his romp across the kitchens of America. Take it away, Dude.

When former Stephan Pyles executive chef Matt McCallister resigned this past  December he vowed he would be take a sabbatical and stage at various restaurants around the country. So far he’s lined up the Michelin star-rated Alenia in Chicago and Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Napa this spring. Then he will make his way back to Dallas to open a restaurant.   Recently McCallister announced a series of dinners reminiscent of the playful restaurant-within-a-restaurant concept Fuego at Stephan Pyles that he fondly calls Play.

“This is simply a continuation of the things I have been doing [at Fuego] to make cool innovative food, but I am out with some of my friends to bring these dishes to area and have some fun.  It’s all part of what I call forward thinking cuisine,” said McCallister at the first of the short series of tasting dinners.

Jump to see chefs at Play.

A play on borscht. photo by Robert Bostick.

The first of the dinner was held this past weekend where McCallister joined chef J. Chastain at the Westin Galleria’s Second Floor restaurant for one seating of eight on Friday and Saturday.   The menu was skillfully thought out, as expected, and the food  was paired with wine or cocktails.  J. Chastain  showcased a few of his innovative molecular cocktails.

One of the stand out dishes was McCallister’s play on borscht, a deconstructed soup in the form of a beautiful salad course consisting of beets, potatoes, horseradish, crème fraiche and a pickled quail egg.  Another wonderful course featured the chef’s house-made fettuccini, duck sugo, and shavings of foie gras.

The most elegant dish was a tuna carpaccio that was treated with fried shallot rings and pearls from the difficult-to-find Australian finger lime that he stumbled upon at  Spiceman’s FM 1410. Chastain sprinkled the tuna with espelette, a colorful French pepper that is slightly piquant.

Tuna carpaccio with Australian finger limes. photo by
Tuna carpaccio with Australian finger limes. photo by Robert Bostick.

The evening was best summed up by Zach Townsend the Dallas chocolatier who attended the Saturday seating. “Dallas is very fortunate to have young chefs of such caliber as Matt McCallister and J. Chastain who bring us these creative concepts for enjoying food in unique ways.”says Towsend. “We are lucky to have them and we should continue to support them as much as possible.”

Next McCallister will be taking his road show to Abraham Salum’s namesake restaurant March 3, 2011.  Well played, chef.


  • Brad

    Not wanting to be the spelling police here, but Alinea. It’s one of the best (if not the best) restaurants in the US, so you kind of have to spell it correctly…

  • Steven

    Was spelled correctly when I submitted, but eh. How did you like Play, Brad?

  • That’s not me… :^)

  • RUK

    Steven, when Nancy Nichols is kind enough to give your writing an audience, maybe you should think twice before publicly throwing her under the bus for your spelling errors.

  • Mark Woods

    I am just happy to see Mr Doyle here, he is one of may favorite reads in Dallas.

  • ella

    You would think Matt would have his fill after all of the ‘playing’ he did with Stephen Pyles.

  • Monica Raymund

    I love following Steven. he knows what he’s talking about more than most in Dallas Jay Chastain is super cute.

  • Dan

    Great Job Matt and J! Two super stars on the scene. Keep killing it gentlemen! Big Fans of Yours!

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