Food and Football

The popularity of the Food Network and cooking shows like Bravo television’s Top Chef have elevated the craft of professional cooking to glamorous new heights.

However, there is only room at the top for a few Bobby Flays. In reality, the world of professional cooking involves long, grueling hours; backbreaking work; little money for a very long time (if ever); stiff competition; and a level of dedication that few culinary school graduates have the guts for.

The unemployment line is littered with disillusioned trust-fund babies who spent $40,000 of their parents’ money to become the next celebrity chef, and after one week on the line of a real restaurant kitchen, decided it was too hard and moved on to their next potential career.

Our cover story for this issue focuses on four chefs who did not give up the dream and are now at the helm of successful Metroplex restaurants. The success of these restaurants is due, in large part, to the success of these chefs. They paid their dues to get where they are. All four were selected by our readers to compete in our third-annual Fort Worth, Texas magazine Top Chef challenge.

Only the top four winners in our preliminary competition0, held on July 12 at Texas Appliance, advanced to the big stage at the finals at Cendera Center on Aug. 2. At the end of the night at the finals of our third-annual Fort Worth, Texas magazine Top Chef challenge, only one chef was left standing on stage holding the trophy over his head – Chef Blaine Staniford of Grace Restaurant.

Staniford, once an up-and-coming chef prodigy who became one of the youngest graduates of the Culinary Institute of America at the age of 19, has matured into a genuine top chef during the past decade. He started his career with the first two years at Aquavit Restaurant in New York City before joining Pisces Restaurant under acclaimed Chef Michael Mina. In 2003, he returned to the Metroplex as the sous chef at Lola the Restaurant in Dallas and then onto Fuse, a Texas-Asian restaurant.

Adam Jones, founding owner and ultimate host of Grace, convinced Staniford to make the move to Fort Worth prior to the restaurant’s opening in 2008. During the past four years, Staniford has cemented Grace as a mainstay in the competitive, ever-growing Fort Worth restaurant scene.

Also, in this issue beginning on page 78, we get you in the mood for TCU football with a collage of tailgating photos we took last year just for this purpose. And, if your not one known to fire up your own barbecue grill in the parking lot with your friends, jump over to page 87 and check out our annual catering guide. There you’ll find a couple of hundred restaurants and catering services that would be more than happy to fill your order.

While TCU is known for its tailgating, I suspect more fans will actually make it out of the parking lot this year to watch the Frogs with the new renovated stadium being complete for the Sept. 8 home-opener against Grambling State.

Speaking of the home-opener … if all goes as expected and the Frogs win, Gary Patterson will become the most winning football coach in TCU history. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Fort Worth, Texas magazine is publishing a commemorative special issue dedicated 100 percent to TCU and Coach Patterson. If you’re a subscriber, this issue will be a bonus polybagged with your October issue. If you’re not ... subscribe before Sept. 8 and we’ll mail it to you.
Go Frogs! 

Hal A. Brown