• Meet Jason Dady, San Antonio Chef

     
    FROM THE Summer 2016 ISSUE
     

    Building a Culinary Empire: Why chef Jason Dady chose to make his mark in San Antonio. 

Jason Dady was just 24 when he opened his first restaurant in San Antonio in 2001 with his wife, Crystal, and then-22-year-old brother, Jake. He is now the executive chef and owner of five restaurants in the city, as well as his own catering and events company. 

Dady, a James Beard semifinalist, grew up around food as a family business. His paternal grandparents still own and operate a bar and tavern in Nebraska. His maternal grandfather was a butcher. When deciding where to open his own restaurant, Dady saw San Antonio’s still-emerging dining scene as a great opportunity to make his mark.

“When we first started, San Antonio didn’t have a lot of chefdriven concepts,” Dady says. “It was a great opportunity as a young chef to make an impact in the long run and create routes in the community that you couldn’t have done in Dallas or Houston.”

Dady’s restaurants offer a variety of cuisine. Tre Trattoria and Tre Enoteca offer Tuscan-inspired Italian food with house-made pasta, as well as private dining rooms for groups. Two Bros. BBQ Market was named one of the “Top 50 BBQ Joints in the World” by Texas Monthly and can accommodate 200 guests outside or 50 inside. The DUK Truck cruises around San Antonio, featuring an evolving gourmet menu and is available for catering. The B&D Icehouse pairs barbecue with Texas craft brews and wine. Dady’s latest restaurant, Shuck Shack, opened during the summer of 2015. The casual family restaurant offers fresh oysters, clam chowder and lobster rolls, as well as a playground for kids.

Jason Dady Premier Catering provides customized menus for each client. For a recent high-profile event, Dady roasted a whole pig at a backyard barbecue for President Barack Obama.

Not shying away from salt and acidity are key elements of all of his cuisine, Dady says. But, as he jokes, cooking is the easy part of the restaurant industry. “At the end of the day, it’s all about consistency,” Dady says. “It doesn’t matter how good your food is if the front-of-the-house staff hasn’t bought into the philosophy.”

Dady says his restaurant group plans to continue operation in San Antonio. “We don’t have any interest in leaving this market,” Dady says. “We have a great brand here, and I still feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to repeat concepts or do some other concepts here as well.”

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Born and raised in Bryan, about 90 miles east of Village of Salado, Chadley Hollas, Village of Salado’s director of tourism, says he came to the town with one goal: to help Salado become Texas’ best small destination. His favorite thing about his adopted hometown is the people. “They are quirky, creative and hospitable—a neat combination that makes for many good conversations,” says Hollas.