American Harvest Workshop Chef Profile
Todd Hall’s first-course for the American Harvest finale meal consisted of Cakebread Cellar’s Garden goodies including arugula, lettuce, squash blossoms with a Sauvignon Blanc syrup drizzle paired with the 2014 Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, but he is actually more of a southwestern and French cooking kind of guy. His favorite meal is John Dory sautéed with brown butter and lemon/rack of lamb.
Cakebread Cellars brought in a variety of chefs from around the United States, so I looked for a familiar tie to personalize the experience. Living in DFW myself, I found Hall has ties to the area as well because his daughter lives in the Big D. He spent time in Dallas in his earlier years as the sous chef in charge of banquets at the Anatole Hotel.
“The Anatole hired me over the phone and my age was not on my resume,” he said. “I had two years as a chef of one of Salt Lake’s top French restaurants, accompanied by a four-year apprenticeship under a famous French chef. I arrived at the Anatole and they were taken aback when they found out I was only 20 years old. They placed me in charge of a team of 46 cooks. I was the youngest and responsible for $30 million of annual banquet revenue. They also had the 1984 Republican Convention, which was being held across the street. President Reagan was staying with us, as well as every other Republican that would fit into the hotel.”
Hall said the Anatole was a culinary life changing experience for him and he has dedicated two chapters to it in a book coming out in spring.
What’s Next For Chef Todd Hall?
Nowadays, he is about to open a new restaurant in Tampa called Suegra Tequila Cantina, he said it is the fifth time he is opening the concept in the United States.
“This is my concept,” he explained. “I have sold it in Boston Temazcal Tequila Cantina, I have sold it in Palm Springs at The Waldorf Astoria Adobe Grill, at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess La Hacienda and The Prado in Balboa Park in San Diego and I just sold it again in Tampa.”
His bio says he was a child prodigy who started working at age 10 in the kitchen of the small lodge where he lived. He began formal training at age 15 and then was the youngest graduating apprentice chef to earn certification from the American Culinary Federation.
It didn’t take him long to end up as the chef de cuisine at Le Parisienne, a French restaurant in Salt Lake City and from there he went on to Dallas at the Anatole.
He has moved around a bit working as chef or consultant in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Colorado and now in Florida. He is also well-known in the Boston area because he brought not only Mexican cuisine up north, but also 300 tequilas at Temazcal Tequila Cantina.
His last stop before Tampa was La Posada de Santa Fe and the restaurant “Julia”.
His awards include 1990 Best Hotel Chef in America James Beard Foundation, 1992 Rising Star Chef of the Year Nominee James Beard Foundation and 1990 American Culinary Gold Cup Finalist, to name a few.
Hall said he always knew he wanted to be a chef, and when I asked him about any turning points in his career he said “No turning points, but a few train wrecks.”
Those interested in hearing more about his concepts, train wrecks and where his concept might end up (tequila included) after Tampa should read his upcoming “Trampled Underfoot,” which is scheduled for release this spring.