Interview with Chef Dallas McGarity

Meet Chef Dallas McGarity, Executive Chef and Owner of The Fat Lamb Modern Kitchen and Bar and Portage House restaurant in the Kentuckiana area. Chef McGarity is dedicated to using the best local ingredients to create his simple yet creative dishes. Learn more about this highly talented chef in our exclusive Q&A!

Q: How many years have you been cooking as a professional chef?

A. I feel like I’ve been in the business for 1000 years, but it’s only been 25 years. I started when I was 15.

Q: How did you originally get interested in cooking as a profession?

A. I started washing dishes at a country club in the town I grew up, and the chefs put me to work prepping vegetables and learning to cook. The Sous Chef said I was “a natural” and that I should go to culinary school. I enrolled at Johnson and Wales, and the rest is history…I guess.

Q: What are 5 ingredients that can always be found in your kitchen at home?

A. Beans, rice, butter, ginger, and curry powder. (Bonus: Frozen organic broccoli.)

Q: You are known for using locally-sourced ingredients in many of your dishes. What is a common misconception with Farm-to-Table cooking that you’d like to change?

A. That it is basic ingredients like squash, corn, and potatoes. There are a lot of farmers that specialize in growing things that are unique and have a very small amount to share with the chefs that support them. Sometimes we have farmers that have sweet potato leaves, chestnut mushrooms, lacinato kale, local rabbit, and even farmers that grow aquaponic salad greens and living microgreens. It is really cool to use something that someone has never heard of and tell them that it was delivered by a farmer through the back door of the restaurant that same day.

Q: Would you be willing to share some of the names of the farms that you currently source ingredients from, and why you find it important to source local ingredients?

A. We use Frondosa Farms mushrooms, Groganica salad greens, Grateful Greens, the Bluegrass food connection (a northern Kentucky co-op with tons of interesting farmers), and a few others in the restaurant that rotate. I think it is important because we all need to utilize the local options, if possible, and the closer to home it is, the fresher the ingredients.

Q: When you go out to eat, what are some of your favorite restaurants to visit around the Greater Louisville area?

A. Right now I have been a big fan of Pho Ba Lu in Butchertown, I love the Mayan Café—Bruce does some great stuff, and I am a big fan of Charim in St Matthews.

Q: What advice do you have for the average home cook?

A. Come and eat with us at Portage House or The Fat Lamb…and season your food.

Q: Who do you look up to for culinary inspiration and why?

A. I’m more inspired by the weather and the memories of things I have eaten in the past. I think people are very nostalgic and something that comes from a memory can be a very powerful thing for people dining.

Q: What is your go-to meal to create at home when you’re short on time?

A. Yakisoba

Q: What’s one ingredient that people should be using more of in their kitchens and why?

A. Vinegars. I think people are afraid of vinegars. They can bring out flavors in ingredients that you just can’t get otherwise. Use them minimally and wisely with the base flavor in mind.

Q: What is a food trend or ingredient that you predict will grow in popularity in 2019?

A. I think eating fresh, clean flavors and mocktails will certainly grow in popularity. We have already seen an uptick at the restaurants when we do simply prepared dishes for special occasions.


Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe

Wow your friends with an original recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi by Chef Dallas McGarity! View the full recipe here.

Chef-Dallas-McGarityMore About Chef Dallas McGarity

Chef Dallas McGarity grew up in rural South Carolina and learned to love food from an early age by helping his Mamaw shuck corn and shell peas on the back porch as a kid. After working as a dishwasher during high school, he decided to go to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina and worked in some of the best restaurants in the low-country. He moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 2004 to a blossoming restaurant scene and after working at several fine dining places in Louisville as Executive Chef, he was ready to open a restaurant as both Executive Chef and Owner. Now Chef McGarity owns two popular restaurants in the Kentuckiana area, The Fat Lamb Modern Kitchen and Bar in Louisville, Kentucky and Portage House in Jeffersonville, Indiana. They both provide a creative outlet that allows Chef McGarity to utilize great local ingredients and showcase some of the talented producers in the area.