Tampa Bay’s Best Dish: Short Rib Mac & Cheese
Executive Culinary Director Andy King of Datz chooses the short rib mac & cheese from Café Dufrain on Harbour Island
How did you get started as a chef?
When I was 14 I got my first job working in a pizza place. My parents told me that if I wanted a car I had to go to work so basically I started at a young age and stuck with it. In my early 20s, all I wanted to be was a musician so working in restaurants was an easy way to get the time off to get the time to travel, record and do all the stuff I wanted to do and it just turned into a career path. I’ve been doing it for 16 years now.
Why is Café Dufrain’s Short Rib Mac & Cheese your favorite in Tampa Bay?
It’s absolutely delicious. The homemade gnocchi is on point. The short rib is phenomenal. It melts in your mouth; it’s so good.
What’s one dish you won’t eat?
Foie gras. I don’t like the taste of it; it really grosses me out.
What was your first chef position?
I worked for a well-known corporate chain as a corporate trainer and traveled all of the place opening restaurants for them. I learned the management side of the business before I learned the food side. I was always a little more fascinated with the numbers and the operation itself. That was the path I decided to take. Right now, I’m the executive culinary director so I do a lot more of the food costs, budgets and labors for Datz. I have chefs who work for me, such as the executive chef at Datz and the executive pastry chef at Dough next door and I’m the culinary director for both.
How would you describe Datz?
It’s American comfort done really well. Everything is elevated, we’ve got higher end products that we use and we don’t cut corners with quality or integrity. Roger and Suzanne, the owners, they’ve been all over the place and had the best of everything the food world has to offer and their idea was to bring it all in one place. Roger actually has a ton of great ideas and he brings them to the table and kind of counts on the chefs to kind of heighten that dish or make it interesting. And that’s kind of the concept of everything we do there. It’s stuff you’re familiar with and maybe can’t get in certain areas, we try and get it all and have it at Datz.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
A McDonald’s Big Mac; of all the great food I’ve eaten…(laughs)
What is Dough—the new Datz concept?
It’s our new bakery that we just opened. We’ve got some high-end pastries and desserts. Eventually we’re going to serve full liquor out of the place. It’s our sister company. The concepts are totally different. The only thing that’s the same is the quality and integrity of the food that we serve out of the building. We’re using the bakery next door to serve the bread at Datz so it’s kind of a give and take relationship.
Who’s your favorite celebrity chef?
I don’t watch a lot of Food Network but I guess Gordon Ramsey. He’s entertaining to watch and he’s a great chef. It’s not so much a fan of his food as it is his entertainment qualities.
What’s the best dish you can make?
Any kind of pasta dish. I’ve worked in Italian restaurants for so long that it’s kind of second nature to want to do that first. That’s my go-to.
Short Rib Mac & Cheese
By: Café Dufrain
Spicy BBQ short ribs, smoked cheddar morney sauce, pan seared gnocchi, crispy kale
Café Dufrain is located at 707 Harbour Post Dr., Tampa, FL 33602. For more information, call (813) 275-9701 or visit www.CafeDufrain.com.