It has been an interesting 4 years since the day I opened DIVE Coastal Cuisine in Dallas, July 15, 2010. I had just moved to Dallas, Texas about 9 months prior to opening the restaurant and it was still a fresh new place for me with new culture and inspiration. At that time, I was bringing food from my past experiences of extensive travel and living in places such as California, Miami and Italy.
In 2010, I felt I brought a new concept and a new palate to Dallas that was a fresh and healthy change of pace. There was some risk in bringing an outside flavor to Dallas but my timing couldn’t have been better. Dallas was entering an era in the food industry that was hosting many young talented and contemporary chefs and entrepreneurs with fresh concepts and deliciously different foods. I didn’t know I would be here as one of the pioneers of this restaurant boom, but was very thankful to be a part of this city at that time. Now here I am 4 years later with much learned and much accomplished; still it is only the beginning of what I aim to be. At this rewarding time I would like to Thank Dallas for 4 years of learning and evolving!
The 4 Top Reasons I love DIVE and what it has taught me!!
One of the great aspects of owning a business where you provide a service to people is that ultimately that service has the potential to make people happy. That is what we do here at DIVE. Feed and satisfy while keeping what’s good for you tasting great. I never knew how many people would appreciate my service. I have met some of the most wonderful families and interesting individuals throughout these 4 years that have been loyal, and true to keeping DIVE around. They give wonderful honest feedback, and overall we have a very happy customer base that really makes everything worth it. Without all the hungry patrons and friendly inviting neighborhoods that have created the up-lifting energy of DIVE, I wouldn’t be able to have had these great 4 years. I have nothing but the utmost gratitude to everyone that has eaten in my restaurant and keeps coming back for more. You make all of this possible, and your compliments and recognition have made me smile every day.
Learning to put together the right team to create your expression on a daily basis is not easy. You have to look at personality types, talent, and dependability. Well, I couldn’t be happier with the harmony we have in the staff of DIVE. Harmony is the key to having a smooth flow in any business you have. Teamwork consists of people working together for one cause, in this case, delicious food and friendly service. At DIVE we have 24 employees: 1 owner, 2 managers, 6 kitchen staff at any given time and 3 front of house staff at any given time. There are 2 shifts, day and night. Each shift crew has its own personality as a team, and because of the lunch versus night patrons, the ambiance in the restaurant is different. Both teams have exceeded my expectations of putting out my recipes in such a tasteful and consistent fashion that it has come to the point that they make my food even better. Every one of my team members are always in a pleasant mood, always dependable, always consistent in their performance while being professional and friendly towards the customers and fun throughout everyday. What more could I ask for? I am so appreciative of being able to give such great people a nice working environment. My staff truly means the world to me, without their hard work I wouldn’t be where I am today.
The Learning Process and Change of Perspective.
Over the past 4 years, what I knew and how I understood the food industry has changed immensely. I have a totally different perspective in the seafood industry, as I have learned so much about sourcing my seafood. I have seen the world of agriculture and produce change throughout these 4 years as well. I have learned how important it is these days to know just where your food comes from and how it was grown or raised. There are so many variables that people don’t realize and I find it important to serve fresh, safe, and healthy food that I would also eat personally. These days, I can’t just put whatever I like to eat on the menu – it has to fit criteria that makes the restaurant a viable business and still has the highest quality and taste. I want my seafood to have the least amount of travel time and least amount of toxins. I want my vegetables to be non-GMO, and if I could, as much organic produce as possible. It’s not always easy to get everything on my wish list, so it’s a constant process to keep everything this way. (To learn more about these topics refer to previous blogs “Seasonality of Food” and “The Trials of Menu Planning”) These 4 years have made me more intelligent in my field and given me the experience to move forward with much confidence in what I want to contribute to the world.
My Evolving Palate as a Chef.
When I wrote the first menu for Dive, it had all of my favorite dishes. I have a firm belief that staying true to what you do best will be a secure way to represent yourself. Not knowing if people would take to these recipes, I was surprised to see the positive response. Four years later and there are still quite a few original recipes on the menu that have made a great reputation for DIVE. I always aim to please the palate in an original way, using a classic dish and giving it a Franchesca twist. I have traveled quite a bit and always find a new flavor or new idea for future recipes. All of my favorite dishes from 4 years ago are now to me “oldies but goodies”, however, I don’t want to get bored with the same old things. I am always on the hunt for my new favorite things to contribute to the menu and evolve with the industry trends. I mapped out a few dish comparisons “old vs. new”:
Classics since day one:
-Hearts of Palm salad
Derived from my grandmother’s classic grapefruit and avocado
-Coastal Fish Tacos
Being a Southern California native, this dish was a must have
-Seared Ahi Tuna Wrap
One of my favorite wraps I grew up on that derived from a California Asian theme
One of the first ceviches I learned to make in Miami while I interned for Star Chef Allen Susser
New Favorites at Dive:
-Cove Salad Trio
I love the Soba Noodle Salad, the Organic Egg and Farro Salad and the Quinoa Salad
-Oyster Banh Mi
Brand new to the menu when we brought our oysters on and my favorite spin on the new popular Banh Mi trend
-Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
If you like our tacos or our Asian selections, this is the way to go
-Jack Knife Tartare
A great alternative to the ceviche and a whole new kind of tartare
Dallas, THANK YOU for 4 great years! You have given me so much and I hope to keep giving back to you. Keep your eye out because this is just the start of what you will be seeing from me…