Last night we broke the news that Brian Zenner is leaving Oak, and that John Tesar could be stepping in. I just got off the phone with Tesar, who’s in New York for a James Beard House dinner, and he confirmed that he will, in fact, be joining the Oak team.
“Four months ago Richard [Ellman] came to me, he talked about how he wanted to expand his business,” Tesar explained, “…then he came to me a week ago and said that Brian had put in his notice. He said ‘Knife is running smooth, you closed Spoon, come to Oak and show Dallas what you can do.'” Tesar’s response: “Fuck yeah!”
“Everybody wants something new, but how about something honest and real? I want to be as good as Al Biernat, not only in the kitchen, but with people,” he said. Tesar plans to oversee the kitchen at Oak, and “help young chefs grow.”
The menu will be a combination of what Tesar did at The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek and Spoon. “I can’t wait to pay homage to Oak, and to Jason Maddy,” he said. Maddy is a former executive chef at Oak, who Tesar met years ago when Maddy was working at the Driskill Hotel in Austin. After meeting at the Driskill, Tesar brought Maddy to Dallas to work with him at The Mansion Restaurant.
Tesar starts at Oak in mid-February.