Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 21, Ed. 1 Friday, October 7, 2011 Page: 48 of 68
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TIFFANY TWISTED | Derry put scallops on her menu at her new McKinney Avenue eatery Private|Social,
but she has taken pains not to do another seafood restaurant (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES I Life+Style Editor
I t's just a few hours before her new restau-
rant, Private | Social, is set to open with a red
carpet gala, but if the pressure is getting to
Tiffany Derry, you wouldn't know it to look at
For one thing, she has help. Through the glass
in the dining room looking into the kitchen, you
can see a staff diligently and wordlessly going
through the motions of a prep chef: mixing pizza
dough, chopping herbs, readying eggs for a
passed appetizer. But look closer, and the faces
are familiar. Arnold Myint, dapper and pixieish,
was a contestant on Tap Clief; to his right, fellow
finalist Kelly Liken; to his left, Kevin Sbraga,
who actually lomi their season. These may be the
best line cooks anyone's had since Jacques Pepin
peeled potatoes for Julia Child.
But that's the kind of affection Derry generates
— and a second reason why she might not look
stressed out: She's used to it.
Derry's last 18 months have been remarkable.
There has been no bigger breakout star from all
seasons of Top Clief than her. She made the final
five of Season 7, winning the "fan favorite" prize,
then immediately returned for the first all-stars
season, coming in fourth.
"I always said about the show, I don't care if I
won or lost as long as I do my best by my stan-
dards. One thing I just loved about [being on Tap
Chef] was, it challenged me to do more and be
better," she says.
That ended up being a good dry run for what
was to come. Just as the all-stars started filming,
Derry got shocking news: The owners of the
restaurant in North Dallas that she'd launched,
Go Fish, closed it with no notice. Dallas' biggest
celebrity of the moment found herself out of a
That lasted all of two days.
When investors who were interested in open-
ing a new concept realized Derry was available,
she was the first person they called. For Derry, it
"Had it not closed, I wouldn't be here right
now," :|he says, "The moment you get a job, you
start thinking anyone can take this away from
me. I needed to be in a position to make my own
What made Derry popular with audiences is
part of her appeal in person. She's loud and up-
front about everything — there's no hint of poli-
ticking when she answers questions, and she has
a strong sense of her own personality. She knows
that serves her Well as a chef... all she needs to
do is bring that personality to the plate. And the
shuttering of Go Fish offered her the chance to
double down on her skill set in the kitchen.
"I was starting to get stale at certain things,"
Derry admits. Her background is in both seafood
and Italian cuisine, and a new concept offered
her the opportunity to expand her palate.
"I knew I wanted to do some global food," she
says. "I do love fish — I love playing with the
textures. When I see a piece of meat, my first re-
action is, 'What do I do with this?"'
Derry was intimately involved in every aspect
of launching Private | Social, including the locale.
"I always knew I wanted to be in Uptown,"
she declares. When she came into the space
along McKinney Avenue,:she says> she knew in-
stantly that it was where she wanted to be. She
hand-picked every piece of stem- and flatware
on the tables, and even selected the "P" and "S"
on the door handles — one opening into "pri-
vate," the other into "social." (The menus are
printed in-house, so Derry anticipates updating
them at least monthly, if not weekly.)
The concept was also near-and-dear to her.
Top Chef' fave Tiffany Derry
brings her new concept to
her favorite neighborhood
The paradoxical name indicates not only the bi-
furcated dining areas, but the menu as well.
Want high-end event dining with a seasonal
menu? Ask for "private." Prefer to meet up with
some friends after work for large plates less ex-
pensive food and cocktails? Choose "social."
Both menus are available in both dining areas —
even at the same table. It also means that diners
with differing budgets can eat at the same
restaurant and enjoy different price points to fit
their wallets without feeling intimidated
Welcome to the post-financial meltdown
world of dining out.
Derry quickly 'fesses that the pre-opening
part of the restaurant biz is her favorite. There's
potential at each corner to do something new.
Everything is possible,
"I have to calm my tendency to make every-
thing Asian," she says of her menu process on
Private | Social. "There is a lot of seafood; the
gnudi is Italian and my Vegetarian option is a
pasta, but oh, well." One item she's happy to
have added is a massive "salad" invented by
Arnold Myint's mother. It's labor-intensive and
outside her Comfort zone a little, but why not try
something new? Derry is used to taking
Right now, though, she has to get back to the
kitchen to get ready for her opening. Then
there's a trip to the salon and a night of media
and guests and reality TV shows filming every
moment of the most important day of her life.
But Derry doesn't break a sweat. This is what
she lives for. If she can survive Tom Colicchio's
judgments, she's ready to take on anything. ■
U online exclusive
For red carpet photos of the opening night gala at
Private|Social, visit DallasVoice.com/category/Photos.
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 21, Ed. 1 Friday, October 7, 2011, newspaper, October 7, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239188/m1/48/: accessed December 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.