Shaping DFW: Matt McCallister
Chef and Restaurateur
At age 22, Matt McCallister came to Dallas to “get a fresh start”. That ‘start’ was a job making salads at a local restaurant owned by noted chef, Stephen Pyles.
With no formal culinary training, McCallister worked his way up from “salad guy” to Executive Chef in just three short years. But with a churning desire to bring progressive food to Dallas, he made the tough decision to leave the safe Pyles nest, setting out to work at the preeminent restaurants in the world, gaining enough insight so that he could open “the best restaurant in the country”, here in Dallas. He is well on his way.
In 2012, he opened FT33, to critical acclaim. Named Best New Chef 2014 by Food and Wine, and nominated as a James Beard semifinalist, McCallister is reinventing Dallas cuisine one fermented tomato, beef fat braised beet, and sweated parsnip at a time.
McCallister unapologetically refuses to offer the same menu or menu item twice, even when a “regular” requests it. McCallister says he never had a Plan B since failing was never an issue. “I was 31 when I opened FT33 so I could fail and start again.”
It doesn’t look like he’ll need a Plan B; he has a new casual, regionally focused restaurant in the works, scheduled to open in Deep Ellum this summer.