Chef Jeffery Hobbs, known for turning fried chicken upscale at Sissy's Southern Kitchen on Henderson Avenue, has joined Consilient Restaurants to be executive chef of American F+B, the comfort-food restaurant opening in Fort Worth next year. He starts December 4.
His move resolves the intrigue sparked in September when he rather suddenly left his post at Sissy's, the Southern restaurant he helped open with Lisa Garza last spring. Hobbs not only helped devise a signature method of cooking the chicken that involved brining and cooking in a pressure fryer, but he also scored himself and the restaurant a four-star review.
"The last decade, I’ve spent time being in business with friends first, and this will be a business thing first," Hobbs says.
Some speculated that he'd be opening his own place, but Hobbs says he'd already forged a friendship with Consilient after being neighbors on Henderson Avenue.
"Obviously, being right next door to the heart of Consilient, I was at Victor Tangos a lot," he says. "They told me that they wanted to approach me while I was at Sissy's, but, being people of integrity, they didn't feel like it was a good thing to do. They called me the day after I left."
American F+B is slated to open in Fort Worth in May 2013, and that'll be followed by another branch in Atlanta.
"I'll be part of the opening team for Fort Worth and do the DNA development, but eventually I’ll be flying out to Atlanta to open the store there," he says.
Hobbs has been in Dallas since 1984, and he has worked at Celebration, Riviera, Toscana, Il Sole, and Suze, where he was chef-partner for eight years. Sissy's helped get him on the map.
"At Suze, I was running day-to-day operations and menus, but at Sissy's, I felt like it was my accomplishment," he says. "When we got four stars, it was me. There was nobody else I had to answer to."
One new thing about Consilient: It will be the first time in a while that he's not working with or for friends.
"The last decade, I’ve spent time being in business with friends first, and this will be a business thing first," he says. "Food is such a part of my life; sometimes it’s hard to separate the two."
Consilient originally announced in May that the chef at American F+B would be Warren Schwartz, chef at Westside Tavern in Los Angeles, another Consilient property, which Consilient has since sold. Schwartz's LinkedIn profile lists him as VP of operations for Consilient; in an email, Schwartz said that "we are still a little ways out."
Hobbs is focused on the menu at American F+B, which seems a logical extension from what he did at Sissy's.
"It's being called 'American fare' — take Southern classics but with a twist — which is a perfect step for me," Hobbs says. "I’m at a point where everything is coming into focus for me. I really know what I want to do in the next few years."