The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2014

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CHEFS: ONE-ON-ONE WITH MERRILL SHINDLER Brian Zenner THE EXECUTIVE CHEF AT BELLY & TRUMPET IN DALLAS DRAWS ON CULINARY GLOBAL EXPERIENCE B PHOTO: CLAIRE MCCORMACK PHOTOGRAPHY rian Zenner, Executive Chef at the stylish Belly & Trumpet in Dallas, was born in Bangkok, grew up in Dubai and London, went to culinary school in Texas, made his mark cooking in Portland, Oregon . . . and then moved to Dallas to be near family, and to cook at the fabled Mansion on Turtle Creek, before moving to Oak as Chef de Cuisine -- and then to Belly & Trumpet as top chef. And his menu reflects every step of his journey. It's a menu of peeky toe crab beignets with Pernod aioli...steamed buns with Wagyu beef tongues...rack of Colorado lamb with paneer and golden chanterelles...and Hokkaido scallop crudo with Asian pear-horseradish puree. It is eclectic enough to give you whiplash just reading the menu. And it's the creation of a fellow who grew up doing many things with potatoes. Colorful cuisine: a beet starter at Belly & Trumpet Merrill Shindler: What's your earliest memory of food? Brian Zenner: Living in London and going to a big dinner at a local Thai restaurant with family. The food was so spicy, we doused it with ketchup to cool it off. I tasted bananas with coconut cream—still one of the best things I've ever eaten. Who did the cooking in your family? Mom grew up in Texas. So no matter where we were, we ate humble dishes—there was burrito night, spaghetti night—we ate better going out. I was always playing in the kitchen, trying to cook. I became a master of potatoes. I could cook them a million ways. What did you take away from growing up in Thailand, Dubai and London? I was exposed to so many different cultures and foods. My father was in the oil business. We traveled to Egypt, Kenya, France, stayed in fancy hotels—and always ate well. Do you cook at home with your four-year-old son? What we make is rustic and soulful. He loves to help out. We go together to Asian markets—he loves whole fish. He just tears the fish apart. Which kitchen tool is essential? Besides a good knife, I love those little peelers made by Kuhn Rikon. They cost $3.50, and you can do anything with them. And what do you eat when it's just you? I'm pretty rough on Triscuit. A box of Triscuit with a block of cream cheese. That's amazing. 40  /  the tasting panel  /  january 2014 TP0114_034-65.indd 40 12/19/13 9:27 PM

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