Bright Box Foods

A new shop is opening in Lancaster from Dallas chef Chris Patrick: Called Curio Kitchen + Market, it's opening at 129 Historic Town Square, where it will sell chef-prepared foods, wine, and specialty food items.

The shop is founded by Patrick and his business partner, Laura Patrick, who also own Bright Box Foods, a chef-prepared foods delivery company they founded in 2019, and fulfills their goal to establish a retail storefront.

According to a release, it's named for a shop that belonged to Laura's late grandfather. it'll open in early 2024.

Like Bright Box, it will offer ready-to-eat meals, which can be purchased on-site or get delivered. They'll also host cooking classes, wine tastings, dinners, and other events.

In addition, they'll feature artisanal products, wine, and catering services.

The space they're going into is a former yoga shop, featuring tin ceiling tiles and hardwood wide plank floors: a classic storefront exuding historical charm.

The couple are Oak Cliff residents who see the greater Southwest as "a massive opportunity for them" as it’s been historically overlooked by restaurateurs and food retailers in the past.

"We recognize that we’re essentially moving into a food desert," Laura says in a statement. "There is a huge demand for food service businesses in the area, and we’re excited to join the community. Our goal is to make the discovery of new flavors uncomplicated and approachable. Whether you're a seasoned foodie or just starting your culinary journey, we believe everyone should get to enjoy and have access to the pleasure and beauty of well grown and well-crafted food and wine."

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Wealthy suburb's big holiday spenders top week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Wealthy Dallas suburb boasts the 3rd biggest holiday spenders in U.S. According to a new study by Wallethub, Santa's gonna be working overtime to fulfill the orders for residents of Frisco this holiday season. The personal finance experts have determined Frisco is the U.S. city with the No. 3 biggest holiday spending budget in 2023. Shoppers in the affluent Dallas suburb are expected to spend $3,546 this festive season.

2. Dallas-Fort Worth keeps winning streak with new movie filming in Granbury. Everyone loves when a movie filming is in town, and there's one going down right now in Granbury, the quaint town 70 miles southwest of Dallas. Oh and it's a holiday movie, which makes it even fuzzier. According to a release, it's called A Christmas Heart, and is a drama about faith, family, and forgiveness.

3. Dallas chef returns with innovative Mexican restaurant at West Village. A Mexican restaurant from Dallas-based Local Favorite Restaurants has debuted at the West Village: Called UnaVida, it's at 3699 McKinney Ave #307 in the former Taco Diner space, with a menu created by Executive Chef of New Concept Development, Chef Matt McCallister.

4. Post Malone collaborates on new line of Dallas Cowboys hoodies and T's. Post Malone gave us Dallas Cowboys-adorned chicken tenders, he gave us Cowboys drink cups, now he gives us Cowboys-themed hoodies. The rapper, singer, and native Texan - a self-professed die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan - has debuted a limited-edition collection of Post Malone x Dallas Cowboys merchandise featuring T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and shorts.

5. Unprecedented round of new concerts headed to Dallas in early 2024. Concert season is alive and well for 2024, with a bounty of tours in the works for spring and early summer. Eight major tours were announced on November 28, featuring a variety of well-known acts, from iconic rappers to seminal rock guitarists.

Una Vida

Dallas chef returns with innovative Mexican restaurant at West Village

Chef Matt News

A Mexican restaurant from Dallas-based Local Favorite Restaurants has debuted at the West Village: Called UnaVida, it's at 3699 McKinney Ave #307 in the former Taco Diner space, with a menu created by Executive Chef of New Concept Development, Chef Matt McCallister.

UnaVida is the next step following Mexican Test Kitchen, a temporary concept that opened earlier this year from McCallister and Local Favorite Restaurants founder Mike Karns.

"The development of this concept embodies our passion and commitment for culinary creativity while lending itself to the continuous evolution and expansion of Local Favorite Restaurants," Karns says in a release.

McCallister has created a menu inspired by traditional Mexican flavors but that are intentionally innovative.

UnaVida ("one life" in Spanish) - is committed to celebrating reimagined yet familiar, fresh flavors and recipes that are also “good-for-you-food” rooted in responsible sourcing and recipes that meet a variety of potential dietary desires. So, probably some vegan items.

Karns says, “ We only have One Life, and we’re meant to enjoy it fully. That means to us - eat the best foods made from the highest quality ingredients to fuel you to live your best life. We believe in eating all of the good things - and drinking tequila too - because most good stories don’t start with ‘that one time I ordered a salad.”

"We believe in letting the ingredients take center stage, telling their own story on the plate," McCallister says. "It’s not just about serving great food. It’s about how food can bring people together, creating lasting memories around the table.”

The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner with starters such as Street Corn Fritters, Casa Guacamole, Heartcakes (hearts of palm cakes, like vegan crab cakes with avocado, salsa veracruz, cabbage slaw, lime aioli) or Crudo de Atun - ahi tuna, mancha verde, and jugo verde aguachile.

“Platos de la Casa” include:

  • Smothered Burrito - Tri-color quinoa, refried lentils, black beans, melted peppers & onion, criminis, zucchini, cashew queso, pico de gallo, guacamole
  • La Hamburgesa - Signature blend of grass-fed ground beef & heirloom mushrooms, rajas con crema, romaine, lime aioli, queso Oaxaca crusted Brioche Bun
  • Open Faced Enchilada Verde - Choice of steak or chicken, chihuahua cheese, zucchini, peppers & onion hash, marinated mushrooms, salsa verde

Bowls come with choice of Mexican cauliflower rice, cilantro rice, or quinoa, and options such as:

  • Enchilada Verde: refried lentils, crispy yukons, zucchini, lacinato kale, avocado, peas, whipped queso fresco, cashew crema, roasted salsa verde, crispy corn tortilla
  • Sedona: black beans, sweet potato, pickled golden beets, roasted corn, purple cabbage slaw, jicama, jalapeno ranch, queso crema, chili-dusted tortilla strips, ginger pepita
  • Fajita: melted onions & poblano peppers, grilled broccoli, guacamole, romaine, pickled jalapeno, poblano and cashew queso, chili-dusted tortilla strips, cashew sour cream

Salads, soups, vegetable sides and an array of creative tacos are also available.

A weekend brunch menu will feature:

  • Heartcake Benedict - with masa sope, veracruzana sauce, cashew crema, smashed avocado, cabbage slaw, and eggs
  • Chilaquiles - sweet potatoes, corn tortilla chips, asadero and cotija cheese, salsa verde, and eggs
  • Hotcakes - two pancakes, banana, creme fraiche, candied peanuts, dulce de coco caramel
  • Veggie Hash - with crispy yukons, seasonal vegetables, creamy ranchero sauce, eggs, cotija cheese, pico de gallo

The Bar Menu includes a signature Toreados Margarita with grilled serrano, tequila, gran gala, lime; Cantarito with tequila blanco, grapefruit, Jarritos, lime, orange; Guava Cooler made with vodka, lime, grapefruit, pineapple guava; Cactus Caipirinha with cachaca, kiwi, jugo verde, lime, agave; the Caramelized Pineapple Margarita Tequila reposado, agave, lime and more. A full selection of wine and Mexican craft or domestic beers are also available.


Gourmet Italian restaurant opens in unexpected spot: Allen High School

Chef News

The next generation of culinary professionals is cooking up Italian food in Allen in a surprising location: Called Blu Restaurant, it's a student café and teaching kitchen located inside Allen High School at the Performing Arts Center.

Blu has been around for 11 years in one form or another, usually under the tutorship of a credited chef. The current chef-in-charge is industry veteran Chad Pritchard, a Le Cordon Bleu culinary grad who has owned and operated restaurants in Dallas, Utah, and the Virgin Islands.

Pritchard was enchanted by the opportunity to teach, and took the reins in July. His influence can already be seen on ambitious menu items such as fresh-made pasta, braised lamb shanks, and branzino.

"Traditionally, student-run restaurants serve hamburgers and hot dogs," Pritchard says. "There’s not a lot of high-end, or even real culinary work being done."

Pritchard has instituted a curriculum based on the seven classic French techniques of cooking. (In case you’re wondering, that’s flambéing, searing, sautéing, pan-frying, poaching, broiling, grilling, and braising.) He's also established a baking program with classes on bread baking and desserts from scratch.

"We are doing things that quite frankly, a lot of restaurants aren’t even doing," he says. "We are baking our own bread. We make our own risotto. We make our own polenta."

The class consists of nine weeks of training, leading up to the restaurant's opening, which this semester took place on October 25. It'll remain open through the semester, close during the holidays, and reopen in January.

While the kitchen and facility are well-appointed, the actual staffing is small, consisting of Pritchard and only one other full-time employee, Alexandra Vrettos. The program has two other instructors who teach classes but are not hands-on in the restaurant.

Roughly 200 students are enrolled, rotating from kitchen duty to front-of-the house service. It's a rigorous program requiring a five-day-a-week commitment: deep cleanings on Monday, prep work on Tuesday, and lunch service Wednesday-Friday, from 11 am-1:30 pm. Prices range from $10 to $25, and all proceeds go back to the program.

The restaurant is open to the public, with walk-ins welcome and reservations required for large parties of 10 or more.

"We are an actual working restaurant, and we are also a classroom," Pritchard says over the hum of students in the background. At different points during this interview, he pauses to shout out "No running in the kitchen!" "Don’t sit on the table!" and "Button up your chef coat!"

The average age of the student cooks is 16; the oldest is 18.

“Sometimes we forget they are still kids, but we do have high expectations," he says. "They are doing the job as good or better as some cooks twice their age.”

He's a firm believer in the value of vocational/trades education.

"For so many kids, something like this can be much more important than social studies, math, or science," he says. "It’s training kids to be independent, hard working, successful adults. I’m pleased to be part of a program that trains kids to work in a trade that they can take with them for their whole lives."

Photo courtesy of Chef Sharon Van Meter

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden presents Chef Sharon's Favorite Things

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden will present Chef Sharon’s Favorite Things, a Dallas Arboretum Food & Wine Festival event curated by Chef Sharon Van Meter that includes 12 tastings – four savory, four sweet, and four drinks, along with a bonus treat from Santa herself.

Chef Sharon has gathered some of her favorite local celebrity chefs, including Chef Nikky Phinyawatana of Asian Mint; Chef Katherine Clapner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate; Jordan Swim of Vestal’s Catering; Jeff Bednar of Profound Farms; and Donna Collins-Yamini of The Jelly Queen.

Visitors can enjoy an array of savory tastings and four delectable, sweet holiday treats. The tastings will be complemented by exquisite wine tastings, thanks to Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits. The event also includes organic, cold pressed exotic fruit and plant based juices, provided by Lucca and Livvy.

After indulging in the culinary delights, guests can immerse themselves in Holiday at the Arboretum, presented by Reliant, featuring the 12 Days of Christmas displays, the Dazzling Musical Tree, and the Christmas Village. The historic DeGolyer House, which is decorated for the holidays with collections of Santa Clauses, nativities and nutcrackers in a Christmas Classics theme, is also open. The event will also highlight more than one million twinkling lights.


Yuzu Japanese Restaurant brings upscale sushi and cocktails to Rockwall

Sushi News

Fair or not, when the question arises of where to find sushi around Dallas-Fort Worth, the town of Rockwall does not immediately come to mind. But that's exactly how Yuzu Japanese Restaurant & Bar — a sushi restaurant that opened in mid-October at The Harbor complex on the shore of Lake Ray Hubbard — came to be.

Owners Ray and Mika Win came to Rockwall specifically with the idea of bringing a fine modern Japanese restaurant, serving fresh fish from Japan, to an area they felt was underserved.

"It's a pretty new concept for locals around here," Mika says. "You no longer have to drive to Dallas to get good sushi."

Win worked in the restaurant industry for eight years, mostly in California where the couple previously resided. Yuzu is her first solo venture and her vision.

It's named for the yuzu, a citrus fruit native to Japan that maintains its clarity and tartness even when cooked at high temperatures. Yuzu is incorporated throughout the menu, from salads to rolls to cocktails to dessert.

The house salad with baby spinach and tomato is enlivened by a yuzu olive oil dressing, and there's a Yuzu Crudo, with madai AKA red sea bream, orange, almond, and yuzu chojang, a spicy-hot Japanese pepper condiment.

“It’s my favorite cold dish we are serving now,” Win says.

Their signature Yuzu sushi roll does not contain yuzu but does boast the most familiar ingredients, crab and avocado, to which they've added seared salmon and a crowd-pleasing mango coulis.

Other inventive rolls include Toro Truffle, with truffled spicy tuna and truffle ponzu, and a surf & turf roll with Texas Wagyu, tempura shrimp, and asparagus. That one goes for a steep $30 - blame the Wagyu - but more basic rolls including a salmon roll with avocado and yuzu koshu (a condiment made from yuzu fruit and hot chiles) are $12 to $15.

And they offer a nod to the current omakase trend with two "moriawase" dishes, featuring the chef's nightly suggestions of nigiri ($32) and sashimi ($50).

A small selection of entree-style hot dishes include beef or chicken teriyaki, with the chicken sourced from an Amish supplier; Chilean sea bass with den miso, a sauce combining miso with sake and sugar originally served by the Nobu chain, and the most expensive item at $39; and roasted cauliflower served with jalapeno salsa, for $14.

Even in Dallas, you'd be hard-pressed to find some of these ingredients and culinary touches.

“We have a modern Japanese menu, where we incorporate a lot of international influences,” Win says.

Yuzu took over the space formerly occupied by the Mexican restaurant El Potrillo De La Sandia, which closed during the pandemic after more than a decade. Extensive, cross-cultural renovations, and just sheer cleaning, took nearly a year to complete. The space now has a sushi bar as well as a full bar where you can find Japanese-influenced cocktails such as their yuzu margarita, made with yuzu juice, and a sidecar that uses Japanese whiskey.

They're still in soft opening mode and the menu is still being tweaked, but the reception has been so positive that they are expanding their hours to include Sunday lunch. They're currently open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 5-10 pm and 11 am-10 pm on Sunday.

Before you leave, don't forget dessert: a refreshing and dairy-free yuzu sorbet.

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Holiday pop-up with fudge & truffles at Macy's Dallas Galleria sure is sweet

Chocolate News

It's fudge for the holidays with a fudge-themed pop-up now holding court at Galleria Dallas. Called Chocolate Moonshine, it's a Pittsburgh company known for its incredible fudge, and it's at Macy’s, where it will be selling fudge and truffles throughout the holiday season.

Chocolate Moonshine was founded as a passion project in 1989 by Christopher Warman, Sr. who began selling it at a local candy store on the campus of Pittsburgh University. The fudge has been said to be "so good, it should be illegal."

They use Belgian chocolate, Madagascar vanilla, and cane sugar, but in smaller doses than usual so it's not quite as sweet. They make the fudge in small batches, in copper kettles cooked over an open flame, which is said to produce their trademark silky-smooth texture.

Their other big thing is truffle bars, little batons with striking colored glossy shells, similar to what Dallas chocolatier Kate Weiser does, painted with French cocoa butter.

Chocolate Moonshine has six year-round locations, including one in Allen at 941 Garden Park Dr., which opened in 2022, plus a handful of seasonal pop-ups at Macy's like this one at the Galleria, not unlike the holiday pop-up shops that See's Candies used to do.

The fudge is available in up to 33 varieties including:

  • Dark espresso
  • Peppermint crunch
  • Bourbon sea salt caramel
  • Black cherry bourbon
  • Butter pecan
  • Chocolate peanut butter
  • Winter red velvet
  • Rocky road
  • Spiked eggnog

Plus chocolate bark, pecan turtles, and fudge samplers.

Some of their items are infused with alcohol, but the alcohol is sufficiently cooked out that it remains kid-friendly.

They'll have the same confections offered at most Chocolate Moonshine locations (including the one in Allen): fudge, truffle bars, chocolate caramel turtles, and chocolate-enrobed fruits and nuts.

The shop is on the second floor, by the mall entrance, and will be open until January 6, 2024.

Bravo gala draws applause + nearly half a million dollars for Dallas arts

Standing Ovation

Surrounded by a backdrop of twinkling lighted trees, the glowing red Winspear Opera House threw open its doors for more than 250 guests on November 18 for the AT&T Performing Arts Center's annual Bravo! Gala.

These arts-loving patrons were on hand to celebrate the Center's education and community engagement initiatives, plus programming that ranges from touring Broadway shows to its five resident companies.

Dallas Theater Center, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Texas Ballet Theater each had their moment to shine with individual performances staged in the lobby and mezzanine during cocktail hour.

Once inside the Margaret McDermott Performance Hall, the black tie-clad guests ascended onto the stage itself for a decadent seated dinner of herb-crusted tenderloin filet and truffled Yukon whipped potatoes.

A specially composed tribute to Cher, in a nod to the upcoming December 14-16 tour stop of The Cher Show at the Winspear, played while the iconic chandelier retracted into the ceiling.

The Dallas Opera performed while the crowd dined on a dessert of dulce de leche caramel cheesecake.

A surprise performance from 101 Dalmatians featuring "puppies" from Martin Luther King Jr. Arts Academy garnered the loudest applause of the night.

Bravo! Gala co-chairs Diane Brierley and Ellen Winspear welcomed the Center's supporters and introduced the night's honorees, the Moody Foundation.

Jamie Williams and Kristina Whitcomb from the Moody Foundation joined prominent guests Deedie Rose, Barbara Thomas Lemmon, Grace Cook (Eugene McDermott Foundation), Matt Hickey (AT&T), Brendan McGuire and Amber Scanlan (PNC), and board chair Danny Tobey.

Several Dallas arts and culture leaders were also recognized, including Councilmember Paul Ridley, Councilmember Chad West, State Representative John Bryant, Benjamin Espino, assistant director of the City of Dallas Office of Arts & Culture; David Small, chair of the Arts & Culture Advisory Committee; and Lily Weiss, executive director of the Dallas Arts District.

Critically acclaimed alternative band Lake Street Dive then took the stage, enthralling guests with their hits "Good Kisser" and "Better Than," among others.

More than $437,000 was raised during the starry night, which will partially go to help build sustainable musical theater programs in Dallas schools.

ATTPAC Bravo Gala 2023

Photo by Turk Turkyilmaz

The Dallas Opera performed during dessert.

Texas billed top-10 rank in new report of states dealing with most debt

drowning in debt

It's not too late to rein in that holiday spending, Texas. A new financial report has revealed Texas is the No. 9 state with the highest debt levels in the country.

The report by personal finance website CreditDonkey examined each state's average mortgage debt, student debt, automobile debt, and credit card debt. Rankings were determined based on which state had the highest amount of debt.

Texas was ranked so highly due to its rampant amount of auto loan debt, the most out of all 50 states. Over 100 million Texans have loans on their cars, which has racked up more than $1.5 trillion in auto loan debt. The average Texan's auto loan debt stands at $27,739.

Texans' higher-than-average credit card debt was also a major factor, according to the report. The average credit card debt amount adds up to $6,542.

The average mortgage debt in the Lone Star State is $217,461, while the average student debt amounts to $33,354. For a house-rich city like Dallas, affording a starter home will cost residents 10.6 percent more than it did in 2022.

While Texas' level of debt is no laughing matter, residents can find some relief in the fact that they're not living in California. Californians have the most debt in America, with the average mortgage debt at nearly $423,000 per household, and an average student loan debt of $37,384. Any Texans considering relocating might want to rethink their choice with that level of debt on the horizon.

CreditDonkey Director of Research Anna Ge explained the "multifaceted story" of why debt in Texas (and overall in the United States) has skyrocketed over the years.

"The causes for the surge in debt are rooted in a confluence of factors – from the pursuit of higher education to home-ownership aspirations and the challenges of rising costs across the board," she said. "The ease of access to credit, while providing immediate relief, has contributed to a culture where spending can outpace income."

Population growth and consumerism are two other driving factors, according to Ge.

"There are also more deep-rooted issues that are causing such drastic increases in debt, from rising costs of essentials such as gas and groceries, to healthcare and living expenses (rent and bills), as costs continue to rise many Americans are being pushed to the edge and require relief that inevitably results in the building up of debt," Ge continued.

The top 10 states struggling with the most debt are:

  • No. 1 – California
  • No. 2 – Hawaii
  • No. 3 – Maryland
  • No. 4 – Alaska
  • No. 5 – Colorado
  • No. 6 – Washington
  • No. 7 – Virginia
  • No. 8 – Georgia
  • No. 9 – Texas
  • No. 10 – Nevada