Going Underground In Dallas with Chef “DAT” David Anthony Temple

Chef "DAT " David Anthony Temple
King of Underground Dining: Chef “DAT ” David Anthony Temple

What do you get when you mix the raw, innovative experience of underground dining with an eclectic ode to a Michelen star quality restaurant? The answer is Twenty Seven, Dallas’ most visionary chef, David Anthony Temple’s newest venture. The intimate, 27 seat restaurant nestled in the heart of Deep Ellum is located in the same space that he hosted his infamous underground dinners. Known as Chef DAT by his loyal patrons, in 2009 he embarked on a culinary adventure creating underground dinners in Dallas, San Francisco, New Orleans, Portland and Hawaii.

Named “One of the Top Five Chefs in Dallas Changing the Culinary Scene” by CBS DFW, it is no surprise that in 2015, Chef DAT channeled his insatiable appetite for creativity into the long awaited opening of his first restaurant, Twenty Seven. Opening its doors Thursday to Saturday for dinner, the restaurant offers two seatings each night with a choice of four different tasting menus that include specific cuisine selected from, Field (vegetarian), Land (wild game), Sea (seafood) or Signature. Diners are asked to choose a menu and are able to divulge any dietary restrictions or preferences that they may have when placing a reservation.

Local and seasonal ingredients lay the foundation of Chef DAT’s menus and his raw talent becomes evident in how they entice your palate by taking you on a epicurean journey that pays homage to his culinary influences. From his signature gumbo to his Hawaiian Ahi tuna crudo, he finds a colorful way of incorporating his experiences into his cuisine. A master of secrecy, who can say what’s next for Chef DAT, but Haute Living sits down with Dallas’ coolest chef to find out what he’s got cooking.

Where are you originally from and how long have you been in Dallas?
I was born in Baton Rouge. My family is from Southern Mississippi, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and El Dorado, Arkansas… I lived an hour outside of Richmond, Virginia for 8 years as a kiddo and graduated high school in Doyline, Louisiana  (30 mins outside of Shreveport on Lake Bistineau) I’ve lived in Dallas off and on for 16 years with stints in Hawaii, California, Vegas, and Louisiana scattered throughout.

What inspired you to become a chef?
I ruined my knee playing baseball as a junior in high school and ended up working in restaurants. I started cooking meals from scratch with my mother at the age of 7 and always had a passion for food production and the flavors that went into southern soul food. It was a natural transition I suppose. 

You have lived in many different places, how do you think that has influenced your cuisine?
True, I have lived in and travel to many cool cities. Every city I’m in inspires me differently. I love finding the underbelly of every culture and eating what the locals crave to better understand their environment. Food brings people together and totally opens my eyes, which evolves my cuisine. 

How would you classify the cuisine at Twenty Seven?
At Twenty Seven we offer Southern inspired share plates. It’s kinda like a Neo-Soul version of tapas. 

Why is your restaurant named Twenty Seven?
We honor the lives of all the artists that left us too early at the young age of 27. Joplin, Hendrix,  Cobain, Winehouse, Morrison, Basquiat, Jones, etc…. it’s sad but I felt they needed a rock n roll restaurant that would honor their lives…

What do you think your biggest challenge has been in your culinary career?
Well, owning a restaurant has been quite a challenge. But traveling around the country in a Prius doing Underground Dinners in cities all over the west coast was pretty epic too….

How do you think Dallas’ culinary scene is different from other places? How would you classify Texas Cuisine?
I think Dallas cuisine is the hard work of local chefs that brought this city to the forefront… Pyles, Dean, Avner, Rathbun…. I think the city is growing so fast that it’s evolving into a global destination which will one day be the model for other cities around the globe. Very eclectic and modern with soul. 

Have you been a patron at other underground dining spots? Which was your favorite and why?
Sure. I’ve gone to some and the best one was in a vacant house in San Francisco. The Chef was from the French Laundry… the meal and experience was very inspiring. 

How can one score a seat at your dinner table?
At Twenty Seven you just go to our website and make a reservation or just walk in…. for the Underground Dinners you have to be on our mailing list and act fast when info comes out about dinners…. they sell out very quickly

Will you continue to have underground dinners at different secret locations?
Of course I will! We paused for a year to rock 27 and attempt to make it perfect. Now with the help of Chef Cable Smith and my CDC Jordan Criss making the menu standardized, I get to focus on Underground Dinners again…. stay tuned and fasten your seat belts!

Do you have any mentors and if so; who are they and what did you take away from them?
My Mother, Tom Spicer,  Susan Spicer, Sharon Hage, Thomas Keller, Bill Bounds….. I’ve never personally met TK but the others have given me more guidance and knowledge than you could ever image..  I’m truly blessed.

If you weren’t a chef what would you be doing?
Smoking a joint on the beach and surfing in Hawaii…. are you f-ing kidding me? What would you be doing?

Last day on Earth what city would you be in?
Bora Bora….duh…

What would be your last meal?
Foie gras, huckleberries, white alba truffles, sauternes…. of course

Sommelier or Mixologist?
Neither… but I’m an enthusiast of both and dabble in both wine and cocktails… I like to drink and life is too short to drink cheap wine and crappy cocktails. 

Favorite cocktail?
Sazarac. Make it a double!

What’s your signature dish? Or is there one dish that sums up your culinary career? I’m known for my gumbo. Have been my entire life.  It’s the first dish I learned to cook with my momma and will always be my favorite. 

What is food art to you? Where does your inspiration come from?
Food is art and is way more popular than I could have ever imagined when I got into this Industry. The inspiration behind everything I have accomplished has stemmed from my amazing mother. She is a badass.

How do you think the glamorization chefs have changed to industry?
It’s definitely become a TV hit series these days…. maybe I will create a show one day and cuss people out, throw shit at the camera, and smoke a joint…. I think it’s funny that people watch that crap… I’d rather watch Bourdain, House of Cards, or Blacklist…. 

Working on any new projects? Future plans?
I have two new companies in the works… no details… just watch!

Is there a patron that is on your wish list for your underground dinners or restaurant?
Ken Griffey Jr.

Do you work with any non-profits or benefits?
Family Compass and The Agape Clinic

What’s a kitchen gadget/tool that you couldn’t live without?
A sharp knife is obvious… but my tasting spoon might be the most important.

Your favorite creole dish?
A cup of gumbo and a messy roast beef poboy

Farm-to-table or burger joint?
Farm-to-table…. I worked with the best Farmer Texas ever had… I saw him single-handedly create the movement… God bless Tom Spicer and all the hard work he put in from seed to plate.