Dallas' ‘Most Hated Chef' Bounces Back

John Tesar opens new restaurant, backs Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival

There appears to be redemption for the man "D Magazine" labeled "the most hated chef in Dallas."

The magazine gave John Tesar the dubious distinction after he abruptly left The Mansion on Turtle Creek, where he earned a five-star review in 2008 from the The Dallas Morning News.

"I got the opportunity to go on 'Top Chef' because I was 'the most hated chef in Dallas,' and that worked out really well," he said. "And we came back and opened Spoon, and the word on the street is, it's fantastic, and I'm having a great time."

Spoon Bar and Kitchen in Preston Center opened in January. The space, the kitchen and the food prepared here reflects Tesar's days growing up near the ocean in Long Island.

"You know, you can go out and eat fish but here at Spoon, we give you the flavors of the ocean," he said. "We bring the sea to our land-locked city."

"We're very simple. We let the fish be the star of the plate," Tesar said while he sliced foie gras torchon, placed it on croutons and layered it with tuna carpaccio, sea salt, chives and olive oil. (See the recipe and watch a video on preparing the dish here.)

It's one of the dishes he prepared at a recent Twenty at the Tower event benefiting the 2014 Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival. The three-day event next spring will put area chefs in the spotlight, they deserve, he said.

"I believe a lot of other people in the food world almost look down upon us, which is disturbing to me, because there are a lot of great chefs in Texas," Tesar said.

Tesar said the festival "allows everyone to come and meet chefs, taste good food and really understand what we're doing here in Texas."

The native New Yorker adopted Texas as his second home after marrying a woman whose family ranches in Stephenville. He lives in Dallas with his wife, Tracy, and their 3-year-old son, Ryder.

With a wife, a son, a new restaurant getting rave reviews and more culinary plans for the future, Tesar seems to be living a five-star life.

"I just really love to cook," he said. "Any time we can go out and meet new people and make them happy, we're having a good time."


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