Executive Chef Denise Shavandy joined the Bon Appétit team at Café Modern at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth a little over three years ago, and has spent her time developing relationships with local Farm to Fork vendors, overseeing the monthly dinner series with visiting chefs and food luminaries, and impressing local media.
Those connections have paid off. Recently, Denise was named Critics Choice Best Chef 2018 by Fort Worth Weekly: “If the mark of a great chef is his or her contribution to a food scene, Shavandy’s collaborations and individual offerings set her squarely among this town’s giants,” the editors wrote.
Known for her seasonal approach to cooking, Denise begins her menu planning by reaching out to her community of vendors to see what they are growing or crafting for the coming season. She also frames her menus around seasonal cooking techniques — grilling and smoking in spring and summer, or braising in the cooler months — while playing with flavors to create dishes that are vibrant, flavorful, and intriguing.
“If the mark of a great chef is his or her contribution to a food scene, Shavandy’s collaborations and individual offerings set her squarely among this town’s giants”
Fort Worth Weekly called her menus “inventive and exciting,” and acknowledged that while terms like “seasonal” and “locally sourced” are often used as buzzwords, Denise gives them meaning with her commitment to sourcing ingredients from as close as possible to the restaurant. Denise also draws inspiration from her surroundings, whether it is a new piece of art featured in the museum that inspires a pop of color on the plate, or the flavor of a peak seasonal ingredient that sparks a creative twist on a classic dish.
“I’m flattered and humbled to be chosen as Critics Choice Best Chef,” said Denise. “As a chef, we work hard to create dishes that our guests will enjoy. To me, this award means that guests are enjoying my food and that my team is consistently delivering the goods and making it happen. I couldn’t do it without them.”