Ellerbe Fine Foods Named to Bon Appétit Magazine’s 10 Best New Restaurants in America

Bon Appétit Magazine has announced that Ellerbe Fine Foods in Fort Worth, Texas, is among this year’s 10 Best New Restaurants in America, an annual snapshot of the best new trends in the restaurant industry that informs the tastes and preferences of Bon Appétit’s nearly 8 million readers, including the top chefs and restaurateurs in the country. 

Ellerbe is the only Texas restaurant to be named to the 2010 Best New Restaurants list. 

“Ever wonder what it would be like to have a charming southern grandma who invited you over to her cozy little house for Sunday supper?” asked Bon Appétit. “Ellerbe Fine Foods offers you the opportunity to enjoy a similar experience—from the warm feel of the dining room (in a former service station, no less) to their everyone-is-family philosophy. And with apologies to all you southerners, the upscale country cooking is probably much better than grandma’s.”

The magazine will hit the stands on August 24.

“We are ecstatic,” said Richard King, Ellerbe Fine Foods co-owner and general manager.  “When we opened in June 2009, we never in our wildest dreams thought this could happen.  It’s a success that is a tribute to our community’s support.”

 Mr. King and Chef Molly McCook opened Ellerbe Fine Foods in the bustling Near Southside area of Fort Worth in June 2009 with a vision of providing fresh, local, seasonal food from Texas farms to Ellerbe patrons.  The restaurant seats 90 – including outdoor patio tables for 26 – for casual, elegant dining.

 “As a chef, Bon Appétit is the magazine you aspire to and that inspires you,” said Chef McCook. “To follow in the footsteps of award-winning chefs like Susan Spicer, Tom Colicchio, and Stephan Pyles is a surreal and humbling honor. To be recognized for your passion, philosophy and hard work is a feeling of joy beyond comprehension.”

Business partners and childhood friends, and both originally from Shreveport, La., Mr. King and Ms. McCook named the restaurant for the Shreveport street that was home to Ms. McCook’s grandparents, where the chef fondly recalls spending time in their garden and learning to cook with her family.

Ms. McCook left Louisiana for Fort Collins, earning a bachelor’s degree in restaurant and resort management from Colorado State University while working for a local catering company. Upon graduation, Chef McCook moved to San Francisco to continue her culinary education at the California Culinary Academy where she received the Danielle Carlisle award for excellence in culinary studies. Ms. McCook completed an externship at Gary Danko and worked at the Stars restaurant under Amaryll Schwertner. It was at Stars that she was first introduced to the concept of developing menus around seasonality, local ingredients and sustainability. Chef McCook then moved to Los Angeles to work as sous chef at Lucques under Chef Suzanne Goin, sous chef in her own early career to renowned chef, restaurateur and passionate proponent of sustainable dining, Alice Waters.  Ms. McCook’s skills and menus reflect this heritage of culinary apprenticeship to the finest locavore chefs worldwide.

Mr. King is a graduate of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.  No stranger to the restaurant world, Mr. King worked in the restaurant industry – in every role from busboy to manager to back-of-house sales and consulting – for nearly 15 years prior to launching Ellerbe.  After nine years in front-of-house operations, Mr. King transitioned his experience into consulting with Strategic Equipment, which led him to a position at the Fort Worth-based Buxton Corporation from 2005 – 2008.  At Buxton, Mr. King honed his public speaking abilities, giving presentations on retail and restaurant trends at national and state-wide conferences.

In 2006, the two friends began discussing the possibility of pursuing their shared passion full-time: owning a restaurant with a fresh, local, sustainable focus.  In June 2009, Ellerbe Fine Foods opened its doors to Fort Worth.

In its first 12 months, Ellerbe gained wide acclaim from locals, visitors, restaurant critics, and food editors throughout the United States.  Ellerbe was one of Texas Monthly’s top ten best new restaurants in 2009; the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s best new restaurant of 2009; D magazine’s choice for best new eclectic restaurant in 2009; and in Fort Worth, Texas Magazine’s list of top 20 new restaurants in 2010.  Leslie Brenner, restaurant critic for the Dallas Morning News, awarded Ellerbe four of five highly-coveted stars. 

The restaurant space is as unique as Chef McCook’s innovative approach to food. The restaurant and market occupy a 1920s-era former service station in Fort Worth’s Near Southside neighborhood at 1501 W. Magnolia Avenue.  An extensive re-model, directed by architect firm Jones Baker Interiors + Architecture and praised in Metropolis magazine’s “Great Good Places” of 2010, transformed a utilitarian space into a beautiful, open yet intimate series of dining areas that retain some eclectic details of the building’s history.  The porte-cochère in front of the building now serves as an open-air covered patio where aluminum troughs of fresh herbs and flowers echo the restaurant’s atmosphere of relaxed, unassuming elegance and simplicity.   

At the entrance to the restaurant, the Ellerbe Fine Foods Market features a wide range of boutique wines, foods, and gifts.  Specialty items include handmade platters by Beatriz Ball of Harvey, La.; Griffin Creek, Georgia ironwork and handthrown pottery; cheese boards, monogrammed pitchers, wine stoppers, and other items perfect for your home or host; and fine products for the home such as natural soaps, lotions, and handmade candles.  Check Ellerbe’s website for online availability of market items:  www.ellerbefinefoods.com.

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