These guys are chefs in Dallas. They choose to remain nameless. Photo by Austin Leih.

Chefs

Nameless Chefs Movement is Popping Up in Dallas

Chefs who work behind the scenes want to change their image.

Recently I received an invite through Facebook for an event on July 4. There was a photo of eight dressed up hotdogs lined up horizontally across the screen. The copy on the notice read: “Nameless Chefs Hot Dog Face Off.” A few days later, I received a private message through Facebook. It was a lovely note from Josh Farrell, a nice young man I’d met years ago at a food demo at the Dallas Farmers Market. He was then working under chef Jeff Moschetti. Farrell went on to work for Kent Rathbun at Jasper’s before he moved to The Mansion where he was fortunate enough to get time in Bruno Davaillon’s world. He typed: “Have you heard about my little family dubbed ‘Nameless Chefs’ yet? It is my counter measure to express creativity without adding to our brick and mortar bubble.”

I did a little research. Tim Cox at the Dallas Observer had attended one of their pop-up dinners and written a couple of stories about them. I was intrigued. The idea of a group of nameless chefs banding together to do events to support each other interested me. I reached out to Farrell who recently left his post at the Mansion to devote himself full time to Nameless Chefs. That’s a pretty strong leap of faith. I reached out to learn more about this somewhat underground movement.

What is the mission statement for the group?
The idea is to be the soap box for creatives to take the stand against monolithic boundaries that we all run in to at one time or another. It’s not about taking a short cut or not paying dues. It’s about having a fighting chance. It’s about showing appreciation where it’s due. If the team is the actual soul of the restaurant and running the joint, writing the menus, and working their lives away to promote the name on the door, I think that they deserve a chance to get some credit for what they do. I always found it weird to write an entire menu just to see someone else’s name at the bottom. Then having them go out and incorrectly describe their dish to a table. It happens more often than diners would know. A lot of people work long hours, get paid like garbage, and are a ghost in the lives of the people diners care for the most. We love what we do; we’ll never stop. We live under pressure and thrive in chaos and that will never change. But, some people are at a place where their higher ups are taking advantage of their talent.

Are you angry revolutionaries?
No. We want to be recognized for what we can do. We want to give back to the industry–the hard workers, the night owls, the creatives. Dallas has been kicked and taken advantage of by pretentiousness, greed, and the fickle and fleeting support of a certain kind of diner. It’s causing an increase of restaurant rent, openings, and closings which destroys opportunities for creative chefs to jump out guns blazing and make a living. We want to support our people. If we find an awesome place that needs people, an artist that needs eyes, a product that needs following, a band that needs ears, we’ll try and bring the people together to unite us with something we all love: food.

How many members do you have now?

Officially, I would say we have nine members. These are people that helped take this from idea to a real holy crap we can actually do this. We’re mainly chefs, but we also have people essential to creating events. There is also a handful of others offering help whenever needed. The people I can name are:

Brian Kirksey: My close friend, helped me develop the idea into actuality including being involved in the naming.
Jeremy Hess: One of my besties, He was the butcher at the restaurant where we both worked. He is one of the most involved in the cause now. He is also now the sous chef at the Pyramid at the Fairmont.
Patrick Rodgers: He’s supported NC from the very beginning. He is now a Research Chef for a big company.
Jake Cobb: This one-armed wonder has been one of my closest friends for about 14 years. We have around six years of experience working together in kitchens throughout Dallas. Were kind of a package deal. Currently he cooks at the Front Room Tavern at the Lumen.
Lacy Cook: This beautiful little lady has been putting up with my crap for quite some time now and I am proud to call her my girlfriend. She is an artist and an aspiring interior designer. She has been an integral part of decorating, brainstorming, and helping refine or create some of the kooky ideas that my sporadic creativeness can provide.
Hannah Mills: She is the lead bartender at Blackfriar Pub and she has been a huge help supporting Lacy in all her artistic efforts as well as directly dealing with our wonderful foodies of Dallas. She’s also been a huge sport by dressing up with Lacy according to whatever crazy theme we ride with for events.
Cyndi Delgado: Definitely falls under another the jack-of-all-trades role. She started as an event photographer for us.

Are they all out of the walk-in so to speak? Do they use their real names at events?
That’s a great way to put it. I actually had to use a business card with a fake name for a long time because of the push back. I show them to people as a joke now. They are not [all out] and it is important they stay that way. If they gain a bit of success or PR that is not through their home restaurant, they could get terminated.

What future do you envision for Nameless Chefs?
I want to see all the people who are out there working their butts off get something back for it. That goes for talented chefs, cooks, performers, bands, brick and morter restaurants, brands, farmers, photographers, and artists. Dallas has an insane amount of sheer raw, untouched talent. Nameless Chefs wants to utilize them all! We are pushing names and brands forward and having fun along the way.

Any other thoughts?
Nameless is still young and everyone else still works full time in some of Dallas’s finest kitchens. I am currently the only one that jumped off the wagon in hopes to get this off the ground. That being said you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. We are working on a blog and a website and maybe a few products. We are kicking off a Mini Series of Pop Ups featuring 2 teams with a chef and a bartender going head to head. One dish, one drink and diners vote for the winner. We’re calling them “Mini Pops.” Just recognizable food cheffed up.

We’re starting off with a hot dog event since hot dogs are awesome, everyone loves them. It’s the 4th of July, and the Red Sox are playing The Rangers. And it’s a big tip of the hat to closing of the great Luscher’s Red Hots. We love you Brian, may the Dawg be with you my Dude. ‘Merica.

The Hot Dog Face Off will take place on July 4 at 8 p.m. at Renfield’s Corner. Check their Facebook page for more details

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