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Restaurants & Bars

Dallas’ Most Beloved Restaurant Hires Dallas’ Most Acclaimed Pastry Chef

Maggie Huff, formerly of FT33 and Homewood, has joined the kitchen of Bishop Arts favorite Lucia.
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Plum frangipane tart, Maggie Huff’s first dessert on the menu at Lucia. courtesy Lucia

For the first time in its nearly 13 years of service, Lucia has a pastry chef: Maggie Huff, best known for her work at Homewood and FT33.

The fit could not be better. Huff has gained renown for her seasonally-driven desserts, which often incorporate fruit and even vegetables. She’s trained in Italian pastry specifically. Lucia’s desserts were already some of the best at any high-end Dallas restaurant, but now they might become star attractions.

This is the kind of news story we dream of publishing. Some of our favorite people in the Dallas food business—and some of the city’s biggest talents—teaming up to work together? What a feel-good moment. Everyone involved agrees.

“We’re so thrilled,” says Jennifer Uygur, who co-owns Lucia with her chef husband David. “We’d always enjoyed Maggie’s desserts at Homewood. She and her mom had dined with us at Lucia. But the timing was never there [before].”

Huff will take up baking the restaurant’s bread in addition to making its dessert. At Homewood she also made pasta, and although she won’t be counted on to do that at Lucia, the restaurant has a collaborative environment where any kitchen worker can offer their ideas for the menu.

“It’s like a dream job,” Huff says. “This is my favorite restaurant, so I’m super excited to work here. To me, this is the best restaurant in town.”

Until now, David Uygur and his team made their own desserts. They excelled at it—I still remember a rhubarb crisp with amaretto cookie crumble from this May as if I had it last week—but now they can focus all their time on savory food. Instead of a pastry chef, Lucia long employed a baker to focus on the restaurant’s breads. After longtime baker Matthew Ramirez moved back to El Paso and another baker left the business, Lucia had an opening. At the same time, Huff was looking for new opportunities after the sudden and tragic closure of Homewood.

Huff doesn’t intend to dramatically overhaul anything about Lucia’s bread or desserts, because she already loved them. “[David’s] desserts were my favorite to eat,” she says. “Out of any place in town, this is where I wanted to order all of the desserts, always.”

She sees a parallel between this job and her previous one, with another of Dallas’ best and most perfectionist chefs, Matt McCallister. “Working with David is a lot like working with Matt,” Huff explains. “He’s super passionate about what he does, and he has a standard. He pays attention. A lot of it is the same attitude: make it the best you can. It’s a place where you can share ideas, collaborate. It’s the perfect environment for me.”

The pastry chef position is becoming rarer, and some national food writers fear that pastry chefs are an endangered species. Although sophisticated desserts were once considered a mandatory part of the fine dining experience, many high-end restaurants now count on simpler fare, like chocolate lava cake, crème brûlée, a scoop of ice cream, or the ubiquitous pot de crème.

Full-time pastry chefs are now most often employed at hotels, country clubs, and other high-dollar destinations, work in bakeries rather than restaurants, or run cottage businesses like East Dallas’ Keesh. Off the top of my head, I can think of only a few Dallas pastry chefs who work for independent local restaurants, rather than bakeries, chains, groups, or hotels: Diana Zamora at Cry Wolf, Celina Villanueva at Quarter Acre, and Huff. (Where is Ricchi Sanchez nowadays?)

After Lucia got attention at this year’s James Beard Awards—where it was a finalist for the title of best restaurant in the whole country—you’d be forgiven for thinking it couldn’t get better. But Lucia wants to prove us wrong, and it wants us to save room for dessert.

Lucia, 287 N. Bishop Ave.

Author

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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