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Chefs on the Move

Oak Cliff restaurant Driftwood appoints new executive chef

Kyle McLelland
Kyle McLelland will return to Dallas to helm Driftwood. Photo courtesy of Kyle McLelland
Chef Omar Flores of Driftwood restaurant in Dallas
Chef Omar Flores will focus on Casa Rubia. Photo courtesy of Driftwood

There's a chef shuffle at acclaimed Oak Cliff seafood restaurant Driftwood: Founding chef Omar Flores is headed out, to be replaced by New York chef Kyle McClelland. The hand-off takes place this week.

Flores will focus on Casa Rubia, his Trinity Groves restaurant whose long list of accolades include a semi-finalist nomination from James Beard for "best new restaurant" and the No. 2 spot on the 2014 list of best new restaurants by Texas Monthly. In March, Flores was nominated for Food & Wine magazine's "People's Choice Best New Chef – Southwest."

"Casa Rubia doesn't leave me much time to focus on two things," says Flores, who has a number of events and appearances in April, including a five-course dinner at Wine Poste on April 17, followed by the Austin Food & Wine Festival on April 22, where he'll join a cavalcade of name-brand chefs such as Rick Bayless and Richard Blais.

Driftwood will be managed by Misery Loves Co., the new restaurant company from Driftwood owner Sal Jafar II. He and mixologist Michael Martensen are also opening Proof + Pantry, a restaurant at One Arts Plaza going into the old The Greek space.

Driftwood recently saw the departure of sous chef Justin Holt, who returned to Lucia.

Incoming chef Kyle McClelland is a New England native who most recently worked at Brooklyn restaurant Prospect. He's also a contestant on TV cooking show Chopped; his appearance airs on April 29.

Driftwood won't be his first time in Dallas; he was here in 2011, helping mixologist friend Michael Martensen at Cedars Social with menu development and kitchen operations.

He's still reeling from the loss of most of his personal possessions, burned in a fire at the apartment of his chef friend Annika de Paula Loureiros. "I'm tying up loose ends in New York. I lost two TVs, my records, almost everything," he says.

But he already has a special-event five-course dinner planned for April 23, spotlighting the Champagnes of Salon and Delamotte.

"Dallas is definitely booming, and I feel that a lot of good things are going to happen," he says.

UPDATE: A release from Misery Loves Co. adds more details:

"Growing up in Boston, I’ve spent a lot of time in Cape Cod," McClelland says. "I’m excited to bring my East Coast seafood influences to Driftwood."

McClelland will also present a new spring menu in the coming weeks.

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Melissa Glenn, Kristina Kiik, Valerie maniscalco, affair of the art