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Season of the Switch: Apheleia Restaurant Group and John Tesar to Open Italian Restaurant Called Gravy 51° and Other Chef News

Chefs and kitchen staff in Dallas are hopping around like troops of wild red kangaroos across the Blackland Prairie.
By Nancy Nichols |
Dallas chefs switching kitchens.

Chefs and kitchen staff in Dallas are hopping around like troops of wild red kangaroos across the Blackland Prairie. Avner Samuel has popped up in the space formerly known as OSO in Preston Forest. His Nosh Bistro is now open for business. Consilient, pardon me, Raised Palate Restaurants, has lost talented chefs Graham Dodds (Hibiscus), Jeff Harris (when American Food and Beverage Fort Worth closed), and Michael Ehlert (Front Room Tavern). Dodds has joined Brandon Hays and Phil Schanbaum, the group that operates So & So’s, The Standard Pour, and High Fives and has plans for a couple new places. Teresa ‘”Gubbshoe” Gubbins reports the name of the spot could be Wayward Sons. ( I guess girls won’t work there.) Cody Sharp has left The Standard Pour to work with Matt at Filament. Harris and Ehlert are weighing options. Kyle McClelland has left Proof + Pantry and Medina and the owners snagged Julio Peraza from the kitchens at Salum/ Komali. It’s definitely a seller’s market for chefs.

Which brings me to the alpha kangaroo, John Tesar. Knife, his modern steak restaurant at The Highland Dallas is still rocking. Earlier this year, Tesar joined forces with Apheleia Restaurant Group to retool and expand their group of establishments which include Oak, El Bolero, and Pakpao. They will debut Quill Lounge in the Design District (by the end of the year) and a Pakpao and Royale Magnificent Burgers in West Plano (early 2016).

Late yesterday came word that Tesar was finally going ahead with his much-promised Italian restaurant. Chef Tesar and his partners, Richard and Tiffanee Ellman of ARG and Alex Urrunaga and Royce Ring of Plan B, announced the opening of Gravy 51° in February 2016.

The press release didn’t give any details, but Tesar spoke with DallasEater yesterday. According to writer Whitney Filloon, the restaurant is going in to “the base of the Park Place on Turtle Creek building” near the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. Filloon writes Tesar and his team are “currently getting schooled in making extruded pastas (think rigatoni, et al). He’ll even be sending one of his chefs to train with esteemed chef Michael White (Marea, Osteria Morini, etc) in NYC.” Hope they get it down by the scheduled February 2016 opening date.

Gravy 51°? For those of you who don’t work in an Italian restaurant, it refers to “the exact temperature pasta needs to be extruded out at,” according to Tesar. (Remember 32 Degrees?). I recommend they add Italian Kitchen to the oh-so-groovy name so people will know what kind of restaurant to expect. The masses need to be hit over the head with clarity.

It’s nice to see Italian food making a comeback. Anybody ventured to Phil Romano’s St. Rocco’s at Trinity Groves?



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