The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2014

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1 14  /  the tasting panel  /  may 2014 B raden Wages' grandfather, a pioneer in the amusement park field, helped him discover his passion for taking care of people, especially when it came to cooking, serving and sharing a meal. Braden enrolled in Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration in 2001. There, he gained valuable experience and met his future wife and business partner, Yasmin, a classmate whose hotelier family had also instilled in her a passion for hospitality. After a three-month culinary discovery trip to Southeast Asia, Braden enrolled, along with Yasmin, in Hillstone Restaurant Group's training program at Rutherford Grill in Napa, California. For Braden, this led to a management position at R+D Kitchen in Newport Beach, while Yasmin became GM at BLD in West Hollywood. Three years later, the couple headed to Texas, where Braden took over as GM of R+D Kitchen in Dallas. In 2011—with nearly 30 years of combined experience— Braden and Yasmin opened the doors of Malai Kitchen, a Thai and Vietnamese restaurant inspired by their frequent travels to Asia. Under the couple's direction, Malai has garnered notoriety for its commitment to great hospital- ity and polished approach to all aspects of operation. As Executive Chef, Braden oversees all kitchen operations and menu development sourcing quality ingredients to prepare as much as possible from scratch while giving traditional flavors a modern spin. Outside work, Braden and Yasmin enjoy traveling through Southeast Asia to expand their knowledge of the regional ingredients, flavors, techniques, trends and customs." THE "5" LIST Braden and Yasmin Wages' Top Five Faves Knowledgeable servers. Nothing makes a dining experience better than having a server who knows their stuff. Sustainable seafood. Knowing that a chef cares about how they source their seafood is always exciting for us, especially because we work so hard to do the same at Malai. A creatively designed menu. When done right, a well-designed menu can be inspir- ing. iPad menus are a little too much in our opinion, but a creative layout can really enhance your ordering experience. Older vintages on wine lists. It's such a shame to serve current vintages of certain wines like Barolos and some French crus. Half bottles. We always appreciate a good selection of half bottles because we like to create pairings. When it's just two of us, half bottles allow us to pair wines with each course. Braden and Yasmin Wages' Top Five Pet Peeves Lack of follow-through when a mistake has been made. We don't like making a big deal when something goes wrong, but we like to at least know they care about the situation and make an effort to smooth it over. "Slumming it" with stemware. Maybe we're shallow, but we can't fully enjoy a quality glass of wine out of a Mason jar. Unkempt staff. Professionalism in our industry is often taken for granted. It negatively affects the experience when the server is a wrinkled mess. A lack of reasonably priced options on a list. We dine out often and don't always want to pay $75+ for a bottle of wine. An absence of value options shows a lack of creativity and effort. Managers and staff texting in the dining room. Need we say more? 3 4 5 1 2 1 2 3 4 5 Braden and Yasmin Wages Proprietors, Malai Kitchen, Dallas Taking Inventory with. . . by Tom Caestecker Jr. PHOTO: CLAIRE MCCORMACK Yasmin and Braden Wages have garnered acclaim for their polished approach at Malai Kitchen. TP0514_102-116.indd 114 4/24/14 11:04 PM

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