Danny Grant’s recent culinary endeavors at downtown hot spot The National have reached new heights, causing quite a stir within the resto scene. Here, the two-time Michelin-starred chef shares his inspiration behind eateries Monarch and Kessaku, his plans for the future and a few party tricks in between.
Monarch offers a spin on traditional Italian fare with dishes like shrimp scampi ravioli PHOTO BY: EMILY CARLEY
How would you describe the ‘aha’ moment that led to the conception of Monarch? Monarch was born out of my love for travel and seeing how other cultures eat and cook. I recall a trip to Tulum where they were cooking beautiful head-on prawns over an open fire; they were incredibly simple yet flavorful. I wanted to bring things like that back to our team and create a menu that centers around wood-fire cooking and features light, simple ingredients like olive oil and lemon. I also love Italian and Mediterranean food in general, so we built an experience that brings all of those things together. I am incredibly proud of how the menu has developed, and we’ll continue to fine-tune it as we go.
When did your love for the business first begin? I knew from a very young age that cooking was the only thing I wanted to do. I started working as a dishwasher in a restaurant as a teenager and made my way up to cook. As a kid, I loved cooking for my family and experimenting with different ingredients. I was very fortunate as a young guy to travel and work in various restaurants around the world, and I have taken so much from my travels and how different cultures celebrate food. I still love to roll up my sleeves and make it happen in the kitchen.
Chef Danny Grant EMILY CARLEY
You are certainly no stranger to standing the heat in the kitchen, but what about this latest venture keeps you motivated each day? It has been an incredible team effort. Building a brand and restaurant from scratch requires a lot of focus, time and energy. I find my motivation each day knowing that our final product is going to blow people’s minds and create unforgettable moments for our guests. We are so honored to have this opportunity to do what we love most, and now seeing it all come together is a total blast. From creating the brand to designing the space, finding the tableware, building the menu, hiring our staff—all through COVID and a freak snowstorm—we are so ready to get these restaurants up and running and rock Dallas’ mind.
What’s your secret weapon in the kitchen? It may sound simple, but my secret weapon is sea salt. It’s truly amazing what salt can do when it’s used correctly.
At Monarch, the scene is set for an uberchic night out JONATHAN ZIZZO
What do you have planned for the future? LOL. Vacation. And after that, our teams are shifting gears to two new openings scheduled for midsummer in Culver City. We are so fortunate to have a collection of new restaurant openings, roughly 12 planned for the next two years. We are focused on growing a few of our core brands, including etta and Maple & Ash, from Dallas to Scottsdale to Miami. We’re expanding our restaurant group in key regions throughout the U.S. monarchrestaurants.com; kessakurestaurants.com