Most of the news about Abacus I’ve written lately has been about the former chef/partner Kent Rathbun. I thought it only fair to shine a light on the brave man who has stepped up to the plates at this fashionable Dallas restaurant. Meet the sorta new boss: Chef Chris Patrick.
How long have you been at Abacus? Did you work with Kent?
Most people are not aware that I actually started running the Abacus kitchen 3.5 years ago. In 2012, I joined the Abacus team and was the very first sous chef hired from the outside. Shortly thereafter, I took over the creative direction of the menu and control of the kitchen. To Kent’s credit, when I first came to Abacus, I encountered a culture of perfection and an expectation that I have never experienced before. Some of my most memorable times with Kent were spent on the road at events like the Kentucky Derby and the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. There have been some incredibly talented chefs come through the Abacus doors and with the legacy of the chefs, I have always felt like I have a lot to live up to.
Have you changed the menu? If so, how is it evolving?
We are embracing local purveyors and producers more than ever before. I’m excited about the relationships we are building with local growers and farmers. On the service side, I’m now offering an amuse bouche to each guest. I’m excited about creatively setting the tone for each meal. There are also two signature items that we will not change, one of which includes the Lobster Shooters!
How would you say your style of cooking differs from your predecessor, Kent Rathbun?
Every Chef has a different set of life experiences and a different background; which ultimately creates a different palate and culinary vision. I tend to put a more modern twist on traditional cooking techniques. Anytime I can find a better technique or build upon traditional cooking methods, I get excited.
I understand you were born in Texas and like to play the guitar. Where were you born? How did you get to Dallas? And what kind of music do you play?
I was born in Tyler and grew up 20 miles away in Athens, Texas. I was a Music Composition major in high school and attended Southwest Texas University in San Marcos for two years. When I left San Marcos, I moved to Austin and played in a band for two years… all the while working in a restaurant. In 2001, I moved to Dallas to enroll in The Dallas Culinary Institute with hopes of taking advantage of a culinary scene that I thought at the time was on the verge of exploding. Now looking back, I’m thankful I capitalized on that trend.
And that Eagle Scout badge you won as a kid? How will that help you during your upcoming appearance at the James Beard House in New York?
The Eagle Scout badge I earned will certainly help me with any challenges I may encounter, including starting a fire if the oven does not work.
Any other news about Abacus you want to spill?
I’m super excited about unveiling a new and more elevated experience to diners. I am in the process of upgrading the bar, lounge, private dining, and service items. These changes will enhance the dining experience and provide a more modern feel. We’ve also got a Guest Chef Series coming up and a farm dinner with A Barn Ranch. More details to come on this.