Award-winning chef and creator of a gourmet line of cooking products, Chef Gorji brings a new Mediterranean style of cooking to Texas dishes at the Canary by Gorji in Addison.
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in cooking?
My grandmother required all the kids in my family to spend time in the kitchen to appreciate the work involved in preparing food. Our seasonal tasks were to make lime juice, unripe grape juice, tomato juice and pomegranate puree to put in the cellar for use year-round. We were also taught to prepare meals at a very early age. Little did we know that she was teaching us the basic tools of flavors and ratios; the rest was imagination and creativity. That early training and attitude about food, combined with my travels around the Mediterranean areas, evolved into the new Mediterranean style cuisine that I cook today. Many of the old world dishes relied on heavy spices and long cooking times. I use the freshest ingredients, prime cuts of meats and minimal spices, and I have developed short cooking time techniques that allow me to make these dishes with their old world essence for my guests.
What on your menu is Texas-grown or locally produced?
I use Gulf shrimp, quail, citrus, honey, fresh herbs, garlic, spinach, Texas wines, bread from local bakeries and, of course, my Gorji Gourmet® products.
What are your favorite Texas ingredients and why?
I like Texas quail because they are not small and don't overcook easily. Texas quail grill and sauté nicely. We serve the medallions and legs, as well as the whole bird. I am partial to Gulf shrimp, as well. They are plump and juicy. I handpick wines from Alamosa Cellars and Texas Hills Vineyard because they grow their own grapes and yield a Mediterranean style that complements my food.
What is Canary Café's signature dish?
Our signature dish is the rib eye steak with pomegranate cream sauce that I won the Texas Steak Cook-Off Championship with two years in a row (2004 and 2005) in Hico, even though Canary Café is not a steakhouse. I have always cooked with pomegranates and have them on my menu all year. I also serve salmon and beef anar, feta and fresh pomegranates, as well as a homemade puree.
Describe the atmosphere and ambiance of Canary Café. How does the Dallas metroplex community contribute to this feel?Canary Café is a small 14-table restaurant with a personal touch and presence. Our goal is for diners to have a wonderful dining experience. I take pride in preparing meals personally and per order. If I am not there, we do not open that evening. In Dallas, there seems to be a growing interest in the smaller, more intimate atmosphere. Our attention to detail, our serving of adventurous flavors and our boutique, handpicked wine lists contribute to a more pleasurable dining experience.
Tell me a little bit about your Gorji Gourmet® line. What would you say is the overall theme of the line?
I wanted to capture and bring the fresh tastes of my new Mediterranean style food to my customer's home. My products provide a gourmet base to pasta, pizza, chicken, veal, seafood, steaks, salads, spreads and dips. The Gorji Gourmet® product line includes: pomodoro and puttanesca sauces; primer for meat; vegetables and seafood for grilling and sautéing; pomegranate champagne vinaigrette and Caesar dressing for salads; and hummus and remoulade for sandwiches and dipping.