Too Many Dallas Restaurants and Not Enough Cooks?

The Dallas restaurant business is booming. Are there enough chefs to fill the kitchens? They're hopping around like knife-wielding kangaroos.

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It’s certainly a sellers market for chefs. The recent boom in new restaurants seems to be stretching the talent pool rather thin. High-profile chefs such as Matt McCallister and Tim Byres have posted  hip “help wanted” notices on their Facebook pages (Hi, Iris!). If they’re looking for quality talent, imagine the problems smaller, out-of-the-white-spotlight restaurants are facing right now. In the last three days we have reported the exits of Ian Tate (Salum, Komali)Kelly Hightower (Wild Salsa),  and Najat Kaanache (Souk). Yesterday, Mike Hiller adds Guillermo “Gmo” Tristan, the respected sous chef at Boulevardier, has jumped to FT33. Bam!  McCallister bags a trophy.

Update: Matt McCallister says his current sous chef Misti Norris is leaving FT33 to  open a new place in the OC.

Update: One restaurateur who chooses to remain nameless sends this report: “Not enough, executive chefs. There are plenty of chefs who can write a menu and soak up some press. They can even make good to great dishes. But they can’t keep their food cost or labor below 40%, their staff from walking out, or their arms free of track marks or sober on a Saturday night.” Well, that’s some interesting insight.

Sure is exciting to see so many new restaurants, but if this chef migration doesn’t slow down, I’m going to have to start ear tagging them to track their movement.



  • mrEmannE

    40% of what, the cost per plate? If you are running a fine-dining establishment, don’t you just raise the price to cover the cost? Or do you do what most businesses do, and just buy cheaper goods? Of course, if your reputation is “farm-to-table”, and you’re picking up cheap crap wherever you can, that rep will turn as sour as the fare you’re serving. Hard to keep first tier people around doing that, in back or out front.

  • Bill

    It certainly is a sellers market. The chefs jumping from one place to another for some extra cash. Time to bring in some NEW talent from some other cities

  • Ian Lyon

    there are plenty of great chefs out there who can control costs and don’t have a habit, they just don’t have a big name on their resume or have only worked in corporate dining and want to make the jump. Give them a chance, do a tasting look at their SPAR and P+L sheets from previous restaurants, the talent is there.

    • Nancy Nichols

      great point, Ian.

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