On Tuesday, we spoke with Matt McCallister of FT33 about his pet peeves and what’s on his playlist right now. Today we investigate what makes McCallister’s next guest chef, Ned Elliott from Foreign & Domestic, tick. The dinner they’re cooking is going down on July 15. (To buy tickets, call 214-741-2629.) From what we can tell, it looks like it’ll be a fun one, since the two chefs will be meeting face-to-face for the first time. Will it be love at first sight? Probably so.
Marley Dablo: Matt was telling me y’all haven’t actually met in person?
Ned Elliott: (Laughs) Yeah we haven’t met. We have just come across each other. I was first introduced to him from a friend a mine who lives in Dallas via “Hey, check this restaurant out, FT33 just opened” and via social media.
Dablo: So it will be the first time meeting whenever the dinner happens then?
Elliott: Totally, I think that will be fun. We both seem to really love food and great ingredients. The people that he knows are people that I’m friends with so it seems like we’d probably get along just great.
Dablo: So what’s your impression of him before meeting him?
Elliott: We are very like-minded chefs. We both have small restaurants that’s all about the food. We have mutual friends like Jeff Scott, the author of Notes from a Kitchen, who is featuring myself, my business partner Jody, and Matt in his next volume. We are really excited to meet and collaborate. I think it will be a great thing. We aren’t really going to have a theme for the dinner, just summer food.
Dablo: Speaking of the dinner, can you give me an idea of what dishes you plan on cooking?
Elliott: One of the things we are definitely going to do is a quail pastrami. We are getting some Bandera quail from Broken Arrow Ranch. We’ll serve the breast and it will go in a brine for a day or day and a half, then it will come out and we’ll put them on the spice cure for two days then do a really quick hot smoke on them. We are thinking to do a play on a pastrami and rye sandwich and do that for one of the first courses.
I’m thinking about doing something else with elderflowers that are all over the place right now. And snails. I’m trying to figure out a way to use something from the gulf, seafood-wise. It’s a great time of year for it. I’ve been thinking and going over things. Nothing is set in stone yet.
Dablo: Yeah, but it definitely sounds like you’ve got some ideas.
Elliott: Yeah, I’ve actually got some friends in Dallas and Fort Worth coming to the dinner that are vegetarian, so I’m also thinking about that,too. I really love cooking with vegetables and seeing what’s out and around so that I could substitute. For example, porcini mushrooms would be a great substitution for the snails. Then also, instead of a pastrami, if we do something like that, we could do daikon and sort of treat it the same – brining, spicing, and smoking it.
Dablo: Do you ever go foraging?
Elliott: I’ve tried to and you know, it’s so hard with my schedule. My schedule is so busy and having a restaurant and a 5-year-old daughter that I try to spend as much time with her on my days off so you know it’s not something I partake in that much. I know Matt is really, really big on that. It’s tough here, too, in the scheme of things in Texas – the foraging, and the things that are growing. We have a woman here locally that is able to get us some things. We keep in contact with her. It’s tough here because we’re in the dry heat zone of Texas in Austin especially for the four years I’ve lived here with the drought and everything. Dallas seems to get a little more rain, not too much but a lot more than we do.
Dablo: What’s your favorite song right now or playlist that you’re listening to?
Elliott: Right now, I’m really listening to the new Queens of the Stone Age album. And then, we really starting to get back into 70s rock with Kiss, Queen, and Led Zeppelin, and stuff like that.
Dablo: OK, if you could sit down to dinner with anyone, who would it be?
Elliott: Hmm, John Muir – author, conservationist, naturalist – I think it would be really interesting. He’s sort of the founder of our nation’s national parks and he’s been a big inspiration in my life. I would love to sit down and pick his brain to see what really inspired him to go back into nature and just want to be in nature. That would be one. I really love Ernest Hemmingway or even the actor Dennis Hopper. That would be awesome to sit down and have dinner with someone like him.
Yeah, for me, the older I get -I’ll be 38 this year -I start looking to other areas for inspiration like painters, writers, and different artists of all media and genres.
Dablo: What’s your worst pet peeve? It can be in the kitchen or in general.
Elliott: I would say when people don’t use their turn signals while driving, I’m like ‘OK, why are you slowing down to a stop? Ohhh ok, you’re turning!’ And then, two, I would say being in the kitchen when cooks put a spoon in their back pocket or cooks that wipe their hands on their apron. Cleanliness and organization on your station are two of the biggest things for me.
Dablo: Anything else?
Elliott: Although I won’t be able to dine at FT33, they are closed the same days we are (Sunday, Monday) but I haven’t been to Dallas, I’ve lived here for four years and I haven’t been to Dallas since I moved here. So I’m really excited to check out Lucia and Emporium Pies.
Also, just check out Dallas as a whole. I haven’t been there too much and I’m really excited to cook in a different city in Texas and see how people respond to it.
Marley Dablo is a D Magazine intern and will be an online journalism senior at the University of Oklahoma in the fall. She plans to attend culinary school upon graduation in hopes of combining her writing and culinary skills to ultimately have her own cooking show one day.