Jared Estes is accomplished in both his current and former professions. He's worked as a security specialist in the United States Air Force; executive chef for Nordstrom; and chef de cuisine at Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar, to name a few.
Estes is now executive chef at Water Grill Dallas. As the successful restaurant nears its second anniversary, we ask him for advice on everything from Dallas' dining scene to date-nights.
Why did you decide to become a chef?
I became a chef because it is the perfect combination of art, science, nature and business. I knew the job would always be changing and evolving—it definitely has never disappointed.
What are some of the things you learned during your time in the United States Air Force that you apply to your position as an executive chef?
My time serving in the military taught me discipline, making strategic decisions and to always maintain a sense of humor—no matter the situation. All of these skills apply to my everyday life in the kitchen.
What drew you to Water Grill?
I was drawn to Water Grill because of its people—I desired to be in an environment that would foster learning and growth, while also being able to assist my colleagues in achieving their own goals. Finding a strong, dedicated work environment with like-minded professionals is not always easy, but I’m happy to say I did.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Water Grill Dallas?
It was an honor to serve President George W. Bush in our restaurant. It was a privilege for the entire staff!
Describe the January/February Water Grill menu in five words.
Fresh, seasonal, quality, unique, tasty
Which ingredients do you look forward to working with in the winter months?
We really look forward to the arrival of Spiny Lobsters, as it’s an amazing product out of Southern California waters. We also offer an abundance of fresh oysters—the Dallas restaurant receives an ever-increasing selection of oysters sourced from across the world and flown in fresh daily by way of our private distribution company, King’s Seafood Distribution.
Water Grill Dallas’ second anniversary is January 11, 2019, what do you contribute its success to thus far?
The main factor of our success is the positive dining experience each guest receives—whether it’s your first time eating at Water Grill or if you’re a regular customer. We pride ourselves on creating a relationship with all of our patrons while providing a genuine experience with dazzling preparations of seasonal seafood.
Would you say raw bars are in vogue? Why do you think that is?
Trust me, I am definitely not the person to ask what is in style or not—you can ask anyone that knows me! But, if serving pristine shellfish at the proper temperature (with minimal preparations) in a unique setting counts as “vogue,” I would say our Raw Bar offerings at Water Grill are indeed popular amongst Dallas’ residents and visitors alike.
It’s well-known that oysters are an aphrodisiac, what other items on Water Grill’s menu would you recommend couples order to up the romance factor?
I’d suggest “interactive” meals—hands-on and shareable are two key factors to upping the dining experience with one’s romantic partner. Lobster, scallops on the shell or even splitting a King Crab! Eating is supposed to be fun, right?
Tell me about your ideal Dallas date night.
My wife and I like to keep things simple, nothing too elaborate. Our ideal date night is packing a home-cooked meal, grabbing a nice bottle of wine and venturing down by the lake to watch the sunset and enjoy a quiet dinner together.
Is there anything special you’d recommend lovebirds do in Dallas this coming Valentine’s Day?
Dine at Water Grill, of course! We curate an amazing menu prepared for this special evening that is guaranteed to not disappoint. Plus, combine that with a spot in front of our gorgeous fireplace found on our year-round patio, and you will have yourself the perfect Valentine’s evening in Uptown, Dallas.
How does dining out in Dallas compare to other culinary hubs?
It’s safe to say that every city has its own style and vibe, and Dallas is no exception. Dallas is an amazing food city that features a variety of culinary experiences. Dallas impresses me the most by the vastness of diversity found in its dining scene—there’s so much to choose from and so many unique, worldly-inspired concepts that are constantly popping up around the city.
Tell me more about the restaurant scene in Dallas right now, is there camaraderie between local chefs?
There’s definitely a camaraderie between local chefs. Even though I’ve been in Dallas for only eight months, the chefs I’ve met have been extremely supportive and genuinely hospitable.
Do you remember the first dish you ever cooked? Was it a success?
I believe the first fish I ever cooked was a Stuffed Dover Sole with a White Wine Beurre Blanc. That was during my second month of culinary school in San Francisco—needless to say, I’m sure there was a ton of room for improvement with that specific cooking assignment!
What item is in your kitchen that you can’t cook/live without?
My family and friends—they are the whole reason I do everything that I do.