Playing with fire? It’s absolutely allowed at Opening Night: ‘Cue It Up, the kickoff to Savor Dallas 2017.

Host chefs Katherine Clapner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate, Nathan Tate of Rapscallion and Pit Boss Matt Dallman of 18th & Vine Barbecue along with more than 15 other leading chefs are breaking the rules of barbecue at this smoked showdown on April 6 — and you won’t want to miss what happens when they do.

Bold aromas of savory smoke, tangy ’cue and sweet spiciness in the air, plus plenty of wine and spirits to wash it down — that’s the sort of experience you can expect at this party, which will be heating up at the enchanting Marie Gabrielle Restaurant & Gardens.

To get better acquainted with our host chefs, behind the smoke and fire, we asked a few burning questions, including what ingredient describes them and why. Read on to see what they had to say.

Chef Katherine Clapner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate

Earliest kitchen memory? Eating tomatoes from the garden, sprinkled with salt, with my grandma when my dad was in the Army.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you secretly want to do? Teach yoga.

What ingredient do you think describes you and why? Chocolate, because it has multiple personalities.

Celebrity crush? Javier Bardem.

What gets you fired up? Any new ingredient that I haven’t tasted before.


Chef Nathan Tate of Rapscallion

What are you most looking forward to at Savor Dallas 2017’s Opening Night? Feeding people and seeing them smile.

What ingredient do you think describes you and why? The yellow onion. It’s versatile. It can be spicy and crisp or cooked down to be very sweet. It’s the building block for almost everything that tastes good, but lots of times you don’t even know it’s there.

What is your most rewarding moment as a chef? Opening my first restaurant. Even though it’s now closed, it was an amazing and memorable experience.

Currently on your DVR? Shark Tank.

What is your best piece of advice for younger chefs? Never stop learning and improving. I’m still tweaking dishes that are staples at the restaurants.

Pit Boss Matt Dallman of 18th & Vine

If you weren’t a pit boss, what would you secretly want to do? Be an archivist for the Smithsonian Folkways Music Department. That’s a real secret. I’ve never even told my wife that.

Earliest kitchen memory? Really the earliest food memory I have is cross-country skiing on my grandparents’ ranch in Colorado at age 5. While under construction, we skied up to the base of the home with my dad and uncle and cooked pancakes and sausages off a griddle hooked up to the temporary power supply. Eating pancakes doused in maple syrup with giant snowflakes falling — maybe that’s why I enjoy cooking outside.

What ingredient do you think describes you and why? One of the ingredients I really enjoy in our rubs and sauce is fresh celery seed. That’s nothing profound, but it gives a distinctive flavor to our brisket and our sauce. Maybe it describes me because it’s a small little ingredient that leads to a unique flavor set.

What are you most looking forward to at Savor Dallas 2017’s Opening Night? J&R Manufacturing, the great local company that makes our Oyler Pit, is bringing over a couple wood-fired units of various shapes and sizes for all of us to cook on. Really looking forward to playing with new toys and new friends.

What’s your best piece of advice for younger chefs? Gotta do it right every day and be committed to that process. I’ll never say we’re perfect, but you gotta work to do it right.

Opening Night is Thursday, April 6, from 5:30 to 8:30PM at Marie Gabrielle Restaurant & Gardens. Tickets are available now for each of the individual Savor Dallas 2017 events, or you can purchase an all-inclusive weekend pass. First time at Savor Dallas? Click here to find out what to expect.

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