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News Bites: Dallas All-Star Chefs Cook For Charity, Barbecue Family Feud, and a $95 Taco

Junior Borges, Bruno Davaillon, Peja Krstic, Matt McCallister, Regino Rojas, and John Tesar will be cooking together at one charity dinner in March.
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Picture of a barbecue tray from Hutchins BBQ, including a bacon-wrapped jalapeño pepper.
Hutchins Barbeque. No, not THAT Hutchins Barbeque. The other Hutchins Barbeque. Bret Redman

Children’s charity Bryan’s House is putting on what might just be the single biggest culinary event night in Dallas history. A superstar lineup comprising eight of the city’s best chefs will be serving dinner, with proceeds directly benefiting the work Bryan’s House does around North Texas.

The dinner, at Oak Cliff venue The Mason on March 30, features chefs Junior Borges of Meridian, Bruno Davaillon of Knox Bistro, Omar Flores of Muchacho, Regino Rojas from Revolver Taco Lounge, Knife’s John Tesar, and Cry Wolf pastry chef Diana Zamora. Matt McCallister, recently unemployed by the shock closure of Homewood, will make his reappearance on the Dallas dining scene at the event.

And it’s all organized and led by another acclaimed chef, Peja Krstic of Mot Hai Ba, who serves on the board of Bryan’s House.

“This event has been in planning for almost two years now,” Krstic says. “I want it to be something special, nice and intimate. I decided to call all of my chef friends and people that I respect. Combining what I do professionally and what I do in the community.”

Through Mot Hai Ba, Krstic is sponsoring the event as well, paying for the venue and hiring an event coordinator. His sponsorship means as much money as possible will go directly to Bryan’s House rather than being spent up on the dinner itself. And tickets are not cheap: they’re $500 each.

If you’re feeling sticker shock, the best way to recover might be to learn how that money is spent.

“We’re celebrating 35 years of Bryan’s House’s existence,” Krstic says. “It started off as a house that was helping kids that were born with AIDS.” Bryan Allen was an 8-month-old who died of AIDS after his mother contracted the disease from a blood transfusion.

“Today, it has turned into a place for kids with physical disadvantages, kids on the spectrum, kids who need medical care,” Krstic explains. “Care for them costs a lot of money. Families will drop off their kids, we have teachers and physicians, foods, curriculums. Outside of school, we serve about 1,800 kids. We also sometimes help families—help to find apartments, pay for their apartments maybe for a month or two until they get back on track.”

Krstic got involved in Bryan’s House about a decade ago, through an affiliated charity, Trigger’s Toys, that also benefits children in need and that is a popular cause among Dallas bars and restaurants. In recent years he has Mot Hai Ba’s famous garlic noodles at charity events with a donate-what-you-can payment scheme. His explanation for supporting Bryan’s House, specifically, is simple and eloquent: “They are kids. They can’t choose anything about their situation.”

Yes, $500 is a lot for a dinner. (Though you can easily run up such a tab in at least a dozen Dallas restaurants.) But Bryan’s House will use the money for educational, after-school, summer, and therapy programming for children with medical needs, respite care for parents who need a day off, and crisis services for families with immediate food and shelter needs.

And—I’m allowed to say this, even if Krstic is too modest to do so—it’s probably the most extraordinary lineup of culinary talent to ever serve one dinner in Dallas.

“The price of the ticket really does reflect, for foodies, you really know that you’re getting crème de la crème of Dallas chefs for dinner,” Krstic says. “And you know by purchasing that ticket you’re really helping the organization.”

At time of publication, less than 20 of the 80 tickets are still available. The dinner is presented by Berry Family Services. (Update: As of Feb. 28, tickets are sold out.)

Hutchins v. Hutchins

In the latest of Texas’ many barbecue family feuds, a splinter faction of the Hutchins clan is opening its own Hutchins Barbeque in Trophy Club, not associated with the beloved Hutchins Barbeque locations in Frisco or McKinney. Well, they are “associated” in one sense: both were founded by the same man, Roy Hutchins. But after passing the originals to sons Tim and Trey years ago, Roy decided to get back in the business with another son, Wesley.

For some reason, Hutchins II: Barbecue Boogaloo decided it would be fine to use the exact same name and nearly the same logo as the original, right down to the “Barbeque” spelling. Now the Dallas Morning News reports that Tim and the original Hutchins brand are suing for copyright infringement.

This is one of those stories where two very obvious solutions are staring all of us right in the face. First solution: adopt the solution the Black family did with Terry Black’s BBQ. Use your first name! It’s right there in front of your other name already!

Second solution: one of the barbecue restaurants should change its name to Carbone.

Community Beer is distilling now

Community launched its distilled spirits line, Society Spirits, on February 11, the Dallas Observer reports. Society debuted with a vodka, a whiskey, and an agave spirit, all currently available at the taproom only. The whiskey is selected and mixed from whiskeys distilled in Kentucky, since it will take years for Society to barrel-age its own bourbons from scratch. (That is its plan, by the way.)

In an interview last year, Community and Society owner Kevin Carr told me that although the agave spirit resembles tequila, “We can’t actually call it tequila, because Mexico has an agreement with the State Department to protect the tequila name and place of origin.”

A Dallasite does the Food Network thing

Starting April 16, the Food Network is showing an eight-episode series called Ciao House that Variety describes as a mix of Italian cooking competition (set in a Tuscan villa) and Big Brother (because the contestants all live in the villa). Dallas’ own Preston Paine, corporate executive chef for Exxir Hospitality, is one of the contenders. Exxir operates Bishop Arts restaurant Paradiso and several adjoining bars.

Do you need more steak?

The Statler Hotel is concerned that you are not eating enough steak. Its Mexican restaurant, Primo’s, closed on Monday and will soon become a “luxe new steakhouse,” per a press release. Personally, I am unaware of any other luxe steakhouses in Dallas, so this could really fill a niche. The steakhouse will be called LVI (Fifty-Six in Roman numerals, after the Statler’s 1956 opening date; please don’t pronounce it “ell vee eye”) and should open late this spring.

Two over-the-top new restaurant openings

Chama Gaucha, a Brazilian steakhouse chain from San Antonio, is opening in Grapevine on February 25, according to a press release. I’ve actually been to the San Antonio original several times. Even in Brazilian steakhouse format—gloriously abundant salad bar followed by all-you-can-eat grilled meats—Chama Gaucha is an unusually good and lively example. Once on my mom’s birthday years ago, we all ate so much meat that the following day we skipped both breakfast and lunch.

La Neta, a preposterous-looking Mexican “vibe dining” restaurant is open in Deep Ellum. According to a press release in my inbox, the restaurant “officially opens March 3,” but the Dallas Morning News reports that it already opened, and OpenTable shows reservations available now.

I’m not sure what “officially opens” means in this context, but La Neta’s model appears to involve getting people vibed up on cocktails and then taking their money for dishes like (prices from Las Vegas location) “mac and Cheetos” ($16), a giant taco with a whole lobster on top ($95), a steak taco with edible gold ($65), and, in the News’ description, “a big cookie sandwich called the Hot Mess that froths from dry ice and is dripping in chocolate fondue.”

Please make it stop.

Other great Dallas food writing this week

Although they are not “news” items particularly, I want to shout out the best reads around Dallas food media this week. Deah Berry Mitchell wrote a touching profile of Nikita Seal, a food truck owner whose journey to food business ownership began as a teenager experiencing homelessness. “Like it or not, being poor and having experienced abuse taught me to dream, and I always knew that making my own money would buy some level of freedom for me,” Seal told Mitchell. Go read it.

Another fun profile in the News: Annabelle Cokinos’ deep dive into the history of Haute Sweets Patisserie’s king cake recipe. Over in Texas Monthly, Anthony Head has advice on How to Become a Regular at a Texas Dive Bar, including a quote from the owner of Dallas bar The Goat. And finally, because we here at D are celebrating Pizza Week, we are grateful to the Dallas Observer’s food critic, Chris Wolfgang, for reviewing one pizza we weren’t courageous enough to try: the Pizza Hut Melt.

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Brian Reinhart

Brian Reinhart

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Brian Reinhart became D Magazine's dining critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants for the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.

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