André Natera, Pyramid Restaurant & Bar Executive Chef

“Lengua Sessions” is a bi-monthly interview series with taco-loving chefs, bartenders, civil servants, artists, persons of interest unluckily cornered and grilled about tacos.

There has been no shortage of accolades for André Natera as the executive chef of the Fairmont Hotel Dallas’ restaurant, the Pyramid. The 35-year-old El Paso native is a wonder. He quietly transformed the Pyramid into a more than a hotel’s food establishment. Natera made the restaurant a fine-dining destination where patrons are awed by classically informed seasonal, largely locally sourced (some of it from the Fairmont’s 3,000-square-foot terrace garden) dishes. Stuffy, Natera and the Pyramid, are not.

The chef, who I’ve been fortunate to know these past few years, and his staff are a credit to the restaurant landscape in North Texas. Dallas Morning News restaurant critic, Leslie Brenner, who awarded the Pyramid four stars in Dec. 2001, described Natera’s cooking as “some of the finest and most accomplished in town.” She also commanded readers to “Go there.”

On Saturday, Sept. 22, the Pyramid’s Fall 2012 menu was rolled out. The dishes that had me excited during a preview dinner were the kabocha squash soup dotted with cubed Spanish chorizo, drizzled with smoked olive oil and concealing tiny croutons—which I would gladly substitute for water—and the five-spice duck with confit ravioli. However, days before I was shooting soup, Natera took the time to answer three questions for the first installment of the “Lengua Sessions,” an interview series where local persons of interest are cornered and required to answer some of life’s most important questions—about tacos.

TT: What is your favorite taco-related childhood memory?
AN: Growing up in El Paso, the tacos were often rolled, fried and then served in sauce and covered in fresh shredded cheese. The El Paso area is famous for Chico’s Tacos, which I love. Ask anyone from El Paso and they will tell you that they miss Chico’s Tacos. It’s an El Paso thing.

TT: What is your favorite taquería/taco joint?
AN: At The Fairmont Dallas I work with great cooks who bring amazing tacos for staff meals, which I think are sometimes better than what you can get around town. However, if I had to name a place, it would be La Nueva Fresh & Hot.

TT: What would your dream taco be composed of?
AN: Chicharrón, cilantro, lime, radish, cilantro, onions, fresh corn tortilla and a super spicy green salsa.

Stay tuned: Next time, Taco Trail chats with Veletta Forsythe Lill, the Dallas Arts District’s outgoing executive director and mother of the Dallas food-truck scene.

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Filed under Arts District, Dallas, DFW, interviews, Lengua Sessions, Texas

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