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Chef DJ Quintanilla

Community Conversation with Dawn Tongish: Meet DJ Quintanilla, executive chef of Resto Gastro Bistro at Trinity Groves in Dallas. Quintanlla is also the owner of Resto, a Modern American Bistro which opened its doors in November of 2014. The self-taught chef with more than 20 years of experience brings his hands-on approach to the atmosphere at Resto. His philosophy in the kitchen is "I think of cooking as a way of life not a job. I do what I do from what is in front of me, I don’t need to go looking proud or order items that are far fetched." Quintanilla believes there are 10,000 ways to prepare a dish.

Seeing the restaurant come to fruitition is especially poignant, given the recent health scare for Quintanilla. In 2006, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery. He says that beating cancer gave him the resolve to do better, be his best and keep his eye on the goal of opening his own restaurant. From the time he was a child, Quintanilla has dreamed about being a chef. He comes from a long line of good cooks. Last year, he proved he can stand toe-to-toe under pressure and compete with the best of the best chefs in the country. Chef Quintanilla competed on Cut Throat Kitchen airing on The Food Network, where he placed second.

We wanted to know more about Quintanilla's thoughts on dining out and his newly-opened Resto and he was kind enough to answer a few questions:  

Dawn Tongish: Can you begin by telling us about Resto Gastro Bistro and what patrons can expect in a dining experience?  
DJ Quintanilla: Resto Gastro Bistro is a Modern American Bistro with a unique blend of flavors incorporating French technique and drawing influences from Asia with some pure Americana additions. Our menu is bistro influenced, with an accessible assortment of menu items with twist on many favorites. We use high quality proteins, fresh produce with house made sauces and family recipes for our house made desserts. Craft Cocktails and an accessible wine list add to the experience. Our eclectic wine list offers selections that are recognizable as well as selections “off the beaten path” for discovery. The bar also has 2 rotating beers on tap with several bottle options. Resto has been nominated and is accepted as A Great Bourbon Bar of America. Resto’s interior has been described as Farmhouse Chic. A mix of rustic farmhouse and flashy bling Repurposed wood & metal bar front, tables and distressed stained high back chairs, Crystal and French inspired vintage style chandeliers. Signature blue bar stools. Comfortable touches with high back booths and soothing paint colors.  
DT: You are the owner/executive chef at Resto in Trinity Groves. What is your favorite dish on the menu and why?  
DJQ: Red Chili Honey Cured Filet -- We cover the meat in our special spice mixture and honey and roll the meat in plastic film before refrigerating overnight. The spices and honey create a cure. When the filets are butchered you can see the ring of the cure around the meat. We grill the filet to temperature and serve over sour cream potato croquettes with roasted garlic bordelaise sauce. The filet is extremely tender and has such a juicy succulent flavor.
DT: What do you think DFW customers are looking for when dining out?  
DJQ: DFW customers are very fickle. They have high expectations. Consistency is a must. Dinners expect friendly, attentive service. They are looking for innovative menu items, but also familiar dishes prepared with quality ingredients. Diners are becoming more educated and have so many outlets to express their experience.
DT: Where does your passion for cooking come from? 
DJQ: I come from a large family of many aunts, uncles, cousins. Several of them are in the industry. I used to help my uncles prep and cook in their booths at festivals. Growing up I was not the best student. When I was eight years old I had a dream that God came to me and asked me if I wanted to learn to spell or cook. I told him “I’m hungry, I want to cook”.
DT: It seems the number of health-consious choices are growing on most menus. Do you think we will continue to see that trend?  

DJQ: Most restaurants will continue to offer lighter fare selections on their menus. It is also important to be able to adapt to guests specific needs. We have requests almost daily for gluten free items, vegetarians, and accommodating food allergies. It is so important that we are ready with selections and modifications that will provide an equally memorable experience for guests with these restrictions.  On the flip side, butter and bacon will always be necessary! 

DT: What is your most memorable experience as a chef? 

DJQ: My most memorable experience as a chef was appearing on CutThroat Kitchen and of course, the day we were chosen to open Resto Gastro Bistro!

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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