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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

AF+B Opens, Chef Jeff Harris Shares His Story and Excitement

American Food and Beverage just opened in Fort Worth across from the Brownstone and Waters on Crockett Street completing a trifecta of elegant dining experiences. Its open and airy space feels as fresh as its menu.

I caught up with AF+B's executive chef Jeff Harris about his passion for food, his story that ends at this restaurant, and why he left Bolsa in the Dallas Bishop Arts District.

Jeff grew up in East Texas on his grandparents' farm. His grandmother prepared southern meals with fresh vegetables from the garden. His whole family—cousins, aunts, uncles and parents—would often eat these home-cooked meals together. They didn't need a special occasion, they had good food. He loved watching his grandmother throw things together in the kitchen. He said she didn't even use measuring spoons because she knew how to make most things by heart.

Later he went to college changing his major until he finally got his real estate license and a desk job at a bank. But he never stopped dreaming about food, flipping through cookbooks and preparing meals at home.

A pile of wood for their grill
At 30 years old, Harris quit his day job and moved to New York City to pursue his passion for cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education. While there he was exposed to the farmer's market and top notch food scene. He then got a job at Craft NYC for several years, and later moved to Dallas to be the executive chef of Bolsa.

It didn't take much persuading to get him to here. "I love the concept of what they're doing," Jeff said. "They have responsible sourcing so they buy from local farmers that treat their animals well." It's a neighborhood upscale tavern, with dishes that have great ingredients but aren't overly complicated. The menu is sophisticated, yet relatable. The same can be said for their mixology.

And with fun kitchen tools like a wood burning grill, a rotisserie and smoker, Jeff will be prepping smoked duck breast, wood-grilled sterling lamb saddle, wood-grilled steaks, spicy grass-fed beef ribs and oh-so-much more.

So why share this chef's story you may ask? Because his experience and vision will be reflected in what you see when you come to check out AF+B.

Best New Restaurants (and Best New Food Blog!)

I stumbled upon this beautiful fledgling food blog when researching for a story I'm working on. I loved its best-new-restaurants-in-Fort Worth list. I will definitely refer to this list when trying to think of a new place to try! It has beautiful photography. Check it out.


Beautiful food photo from blog Food, Fort Worth