Posted by: Tommy | June 3, 2010

“The coolest thing I’ve ever done on a Wednesday”

One thing that has become something of a joke since our “retirement” is our mastery of the “life of leisure”.  Ever since we became largely available with our time, we’ve been getting last-minute offers for some fantastic experiences.  Apparently, there are lots of cool things going on and people knowing you’re available and being good company can get you into a lot of doors.  For me, those doors are mostly sporting-event related.  Since the sale of Home Helpers, I’ve been in a Rangers suite (thank you Kelsey), front row behind home plate at the Rangers (thank you John and more importantly John’s boss), and had access to a fancy room with food and drink at the Byron Nelson (thank you Kurt).

But last night, I was finally able to give Anna something that she was really, really excited about.  Courtesy of our fantastic business banker, Adam Donahue at Capital One, Anna and I had dinner at Kent Rathbun’s home.  Kent is the celebrity chef owner of Abacus, Jasper’s, Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen and others.  He also defeated Bobby Flay in a classic Iron Chef America.  He is definitely a Dallas culinary star and is known nationally.  And we had dinner at his house last night.

Kent and his wife (she co-owns Shinsei, another fantastic Dallas restaurant) live with their daughter and dog in a very spacious and well-appointed condo about 5 minutes drive from us.  The party had about 32 people and a very intimate feel.  When we arrived, we met up with Adam and his wife, Ashley.  We mingled with the other guests, checked out the views from the 19th floor.  We could see all the way to downtown from the balcony.  Chef Kent mingled also, so we talked to him briefly.  Waiters were coming through with delicious appetizers: chicken empanadas, smoked salmon on a small crunchy cracker, and best of all – the Abacus specialty lobster shooters.  The servers kept encouraging me to take another lobster shooter, another empanada, etc. so I was almost full before dinner even started.  I think I ate 5 lobster shooters.

Before dinner, Chef Kent gathered us around and told us about his life’s journey, his struggles getting to where he is today, about his different restaurants and jobs and about his late mentor, who really taught him about business.  Even though the food was delicious, this was easily the highlight of the night.  Anna is, as I like to call her, a food nerd and getting to hear from someone she admires greatly made her light up like the sun.  Kent talked for about an hour and then gave a demonstration on cooking trout, with many helpful pointers.  I’m hoping she was paying attention, since those pointers were lost on me.  I would be more comfortable with pointers on microwaving a chicken pot-pie.  That’s more my speed.

Chef Kent Rathbun, talking about his experiences as a chef

While I can’t cook anything,  I am a very practiced eater, so thankfully that part of the party followed the talk.  Dinner was in 3 courses.  The food was not anything very exotic – just very, very good.  The first course was a spinach salad with candied walnuts and a tasty balsamic dressing.  The main course was a filet mignon, cooked medium rare, with truffle mashed potatoes.  Ashley (Adam’s wife) is more of a well done, possibly charred steak eater so we spent some time convincing her that the steak was delicious.  It was, but I’m not sure we converted her.  Oh well, Sally still eats her steak burned too.  Dessert was brioche bread pudding that was luxuriantly rich.  I’m drooling just thinking back to the bread pudding.

After dinner, we hung out on the balcony and admired the view in the dark.  We spent some time talking to Adam and Ashley and to some of the other guests, then bid our farewells.  But not before Anna got a picture with Chef Kent.  All the way home, Anna talked about how much fun she had and how that was easily “the coolest thing I’ve ever done on a Wednesday”.

Anna was almost too nervous to smile for this picture. The end to a fantastic night.



  1. I enjoyed your post – Kent worked for the same guy I worked for, and he is right, he was a fantastic mentor. Robert Hoffman owned the Coca-Cola Bottling Group, Southwest and I worked for him for 8 years. Robert was a really interesting guy, he and a friend created the Harvard Lampoon, which became of course the National Lampoon. Everyone who worked there thought the world of him. Robert was the originator of the Dallas Plan, which was the forerunner for the Trinity River Project. His legacy lives on!

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