You were recently given the highest recognition members of the Texas Restaurant Association can achieve by earning a spot in the TRA Hall of Honor. What does this honor mean to you as a Texas restaurant owner and chef?
I am overwhelmed and humbled to receive such an honor and to be among the industry's leaders and visionaries. This rank is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It is a wonderful experience to be recognized by your peers. I have to add that I received this on behalf of my parents, who spent endless hours in a hot kitchen paving the road for my future.
Your father, John Zentner, owned a restaurant in Lowake, and the Zentner name has become a famous name in regards to quality steaks. How has being Zentner's daughter influenced your restaurant and the dishes you serve?
First, let me say it was a challenge at times to be the daughter of John Zentner. He was not always sure I could take over the family business. I worked hard to convince him that I could do this. My dad was from the old country with old country rules. He was my mentor, and I stayed by his side and listened to his every word. He knew just how to choose his words so they would have the desired effect. But he wasn't afraid to speak his mind either! Dad had strong opinions and freely shared them, but he knew how to be winsome. From this I found my desire to continue in his footsteps. My father always stressed that if you offer good food at a good price, you will keep your customers and your bank manager happy for a long time to come.
What on your menu is Texas-grown or produced?
One of our restaurant's favorite items is our onion rings. We buy large colossal onions from the Valley and a local farm in San Angelo. We also purchase tomatoes from a local farmer, Brotherton Produce. Whenever we can, we buy local. After touring Fall Creek Winery in Tow we decided that this wine was perfect for our steaks. I try to introduce Texas in our menu.
What are your favorite Texas ingredients and why?
You have heard it a million times-- "It's what inside that counts." Our favorite Texas ingredient is the garlic we season our steaks with. The special garlic seasoning has been used for the past 62 years. My father started using it in Lowake in 1947, and we continue to use Decoty's garlic today, which is produced right here in San Angelo. Through the years we have perfected the flavor of the steak with just the right amount of seasoning.
What is Zentner's Daughter Steak House's signature dish?
I am not sure we have a single signature dish. All of our dishes are our own creations and encapsulate Zentner's Daughter's philosophy. From our Onion Ring Bales to the Chicken Fried Steaks to our Family Style Kansas City Steak or the one-of-a-kind Steak Tenders, we pride ourselves in serving the best cuts.
Describe the atmosphere and ambiance of Zentner's Daughter Steak House.
Our clientele is from all walks of life. We have farmers, plumbers, bankers, ranchers, teachers, families, oil field workers, etc. After a fire destroyed the restaurant in 1997, we added more booths, lots of windows and light, cool colors. We now have a sophisticated, yet unpretentious dining experience in traditional surroundings. There's something special about seeing your business attract all walks of life.
How does the San Angelo community contribute to this feel?
We want our customers to feel warm and comfortable in here. This is the essence of a family business, and we feel so fortunate to have the local support and repeat customers who have kept us going through the 35 years that we have been at this location. It's really awesome the way the community has embraced us.
For more information on Zentner's Daughter Steak House, go here.