It’s a restaurant that changes chefs often, but not in a bad way. In fact, it’s a win win situation for customers and incoming or outgoing chefs who are brought on at Kitchen LTO offering a permanent pop-up restaurant experience. And, as owner Casie Caldwell says “delivers an ever-changing culinary experience, showcasing relevant chef and artist talent at least twice per year.”
The best part is that the public gets to vote on who they want to take over when the time comes for a new chef.
“I created LTO because restaurant closures happen far too often and I wanted to find a way to keep things interesting, fresh and exciting,” says Caldwell. “Because the restaurant is ever changing, there's always a story to be told — the conversation never ends. Even the fickle 500 will return to rediscover.”
In business since September 2013 in Dallas’ Trinity Groves, there have so far been five Chefs and five artists each creating their own artwork extraordinaire at LTO.
For new incoming chefs the applicants are screened by a selection committee for qualifications and then voted on through the restaurant’s website and social media channels. After that a judging committee holds a chef tasting and artistic review to choose the finalists from the long list of applicants and each finalist is featured on the restaurant website and social media channels so that the Dallas community gets a chance to vote on their favorite chef and artist.
The new talent is live in the restaurant for a limited time of only six months, recently Kitchen LTO brought on chef Anastacia Quinones “AQ” and Crimson Shults took the artist position.
The kitchen opened with the new chef on May 31 Caldwell says “We don’t have any “rules” regarding a menu, but we don’t typically select finalists that are too similar to the previous chef.” As for the artist’s role Caldwell explains that the artist “may not get as much attention as the chef, but I believe the artist rotation is as equally important as the chef rotation. Selecting a new artist in tandem with a chef allows us to change the dining atmosphere so that it feels somewhat different each time. The art alone can really transform the dining atmosphere.”
Incoming Shults paints bright, vibrant and fun abstract colors as well as some portrait pieces and after learning she won the artist spot for LTO’s 5th rotation, she painted two pieces, “Cinco” and “Cada Quien,” inspired by Chef AQ’s modern Mexican cuisine.
“I think AQ will continue to push the envelope at Kitchen LTO,” Caldwell concludes. “She takes us in a new direction with Modern Mexican food that promises big, fresh and authentic flavors. I’m excited to see her pick up where she left off with Alma and Komali. Artist Crimson Shults' style will pair perfectly with the cuisine. I think her bright and bold abstract colors will mirror the vibrant flavors of this next pop-up.”