Kevin Maxey, Craft

Craft chef Kevin Maxey riffs on kitchen tools, cookbooks, and the spice he can’t live without.

Kevin Maxey
Craft

Our hometown boy’s first serious gig was at Dallas’ long-departed Riviera before stints in Seattle, San Francisco, and New York City, where he was superchef Tom Colicchio’s right-hand man at Gramercy Tavern. We’re glad to have him back.

When I eat out in Dallas I go to:
Mercury Grill for modern American, Coal Vines for pizza, Cuquita’s for Mexican, and Yutaka
for Japanese.

Can’t-live-without-it spice:
Pimentón.

Photography by Getty Images

Ingredient I use most:
Does olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper count as one ingredient?

What got me into chef’dom:
Eating out at exotic restaurants growing up and PBS cooking shows. We were always in the kitchen, watching our mom and family make every meal for us. We had to be home at 6 p.m. sharp every night for a sit-down dinner with the family, which was very difficult for a 14-year-old boy in the middle of a summertime home run derby with the neighborhood kids.

My signature style:
Fresh, seasonal, and straightforward.

Two kitchen tools everyone should have:
Sharp knives and stainless steel pans with copper cores.

My guilty pleasure:
Foot-long chili cheese dog from Sonic.

Secret preparation tip:
It’s no big secret but not everyone does it. Taste the food before you serve it and adjust the seasoning.

Photography by Newscom

Favorite cookbook:
The Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali.

Best compliment to the chef:
A plate wiped clean with a crust of bread.

Worst cooking disaster:
I tried to “blacken” our catch on a family fishing trip to Florida when I was 16. Our entire condo filled up with smoke, and we had to go out for dinner.

Area cooks I’m watching:
Mike Magliano, Eric Black, Jeff Harris, and Tony Zappola, my sous chefs at Craft. Watch out for these guys, Dallas.

Quick cleanup tips:
You can clean anything with blue Dawn, hot water, and a green scrubbing pad. Disinfect with a few drops of bleach. Everything else is a waste of money.

Simple entertaining tips to keep the party going:
Have a fun time with after-dinner wines. Try a variety of moscatos, vin santos, late harvest rieslings, and ice wines. These wines can stand alone, so have an informal tasting after the dessert course.

Anything you refuse to cook:

Photography by Getty Images

For a customer… No.
For myself… Toro (choice tuna belly). It’s too good raw.

What I am buying in October:
Spinach really shines in late fall. Also, porcini mushrooms if you can find them. Check online and have them Fed-Exed for a special treat. A half-pound per person should do. Brush with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill outdoors.

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