Borges plates dishes at the 2015 Best New Restaurants dinner. Catherine Downes

Restaurant Business

New Chef-Driven Restaurant Will Give Junior Borges a Well-Deserved Voice

It's worth getting excited for.

News came yesterday evening that restaurateur Stephan Courseau will open a new restaurant with chef Junior Borges at the helm.

The concept is still in the very early stages of development, shrouded in that veil of secrecy that often hovers around fledging projects that are being incubated. The details of the exact location, for example, are figuring as a coyly kept French secret; though it will be in the same general Knox area where Courseau’s Le Bilboquet and Up on Knox have already gathered their own clientele. It will most likely open in early 2019.

And it will speak in the voice of Junior Borges, one in our city’s cadre of talented mature chefs, who has been executive chef for The Joule since leaving his executive chef position at Uchi. Being from Brazil and having lived in New York for many years before Dallas, Borges’s chef experiences have broad range: he’s worked with high-end Italian, with modern Japanese, and perennially based in classical French technique. He’ll bring to this new concept food that expresses his background and loves in a way that’s relatable.

“It’s about experiences—about my experiences, the food that I loved to cook, and the food that I love to eat,” he says. It is also highly aware of its audience: “a restaurant that relates to people and where people feel comfortable and excited to be there.”

Personal, but relatable. Refined, but approachable. Cool and comfortable and pushing forward the dining scene. That’s all part of his mission.

But, we have an example of this in chef Bruno Davaillon, whose new restaurant Bullion is one of the most successful recent examples of a mature chef doing what he loves, embodying a vision. My general vision regarding this kind of chef: If they’re happy doing what they’re doing, it’s good for everyone.

Borges has made recent trips to his native Brazil. One memory is of a heart of palm, the diameter of his arm, grilled to perfection. Will he be able to source ingredients from the same places he might in Brazil? Maybe not. But, he says, “Things that I have a passion for I’ll try to incorporate, being smart about it and using ingredients at hand. I can’t say exactly where and how yet on the menu, but [they will].”

After the design work and the R&D, there will be pop-ups or teasers, he anticipates. Meanwhile, Borges is leaving the Headington Co. restaurants in good hands. Josh Sutcliff earned a spot for Mirador on my Best New Restaurants list. Nick Walker is doing great things at CBD Provisions, and Americano is going strong.

Borges says he’s enjoyed his time at The Joule. “Making and evolving the restaurants that we already had—it’s been super-fun.”

Time to have his own voice. That, as he might say about what he wants, is how you make a better food city.

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