Sneak Peek: Julio Peraza Announced as Executive Chef of Madrina

By Bev Garvin, Foodable Contributor

Executive Chef Julio Peraza | Photo Credit: Misery Loves Co.

Executive Chef Julio Peraza | Photo Credit: Misery Loves Co.

The much-anticipated opening of Madrina, Misery Loves Co. Restaurant Group’s newest concept, is set to open in the first week of September in the Shops of Highland Park, and they have a few surprises in store. The management team just announced Julio Peraza will lead the culinary team as Executive Chef. 

“I met Julio a couple of years ago and told him one day we would work together,” says Michael Martensen, Madrina partner and co-founder of Misery Loves Co. “Peraza’s background in traditional French techniques and passion for quality are a perfect match for Madrina. His enthusiasm and creativity are evident in each one of his dishes he creates, and are exactly what we hoped to showcase through the menu. We’re confident Madrina will provide a new and unique genre of cuisine for Dallas if not the country.”

Michael Martensen, a James Beard nominee for “Best Bar Program” in 2013, will be crafting a cocktail menu extraordinaire, comprised of Mexican and French inspired libations, and a wine list that will focus heavily on French varietals. 

Lobster Salad With Squid Ink Baguette & Gribiche Dressing | Foodable WebTV Network

Lobster Salad With Squid Ink Baguette & Gribiche Dressing | Foodable WebTV Network

Will Madrina’s Menu Offer Dishes You Can’t Refuse?

Madrina is a Spanish word meaning godmother, and this mother has an appetite for haute cuisine with an aromatic kick. Madrina’s menu will highlight refined Mexican dishes prepared with classic French techniques. “Madrina doesn’t quite fall into a specific cuisine category yet, as we’re essentially creating it,” says Sal Jafar II, partner and co-founder of Misery Loves Co. “At its core, Madrina represents a marriage of the classic techniques of France and the bold flavors of Mexico, while providing a new fine-dining option in Dallas that doesn’t fall within the steakhouse format. And yet, through our bar menu, regular menu and exclusive chef's tasting menu, Madrina will still provide something for everyone by offering a wide array of options in a varied range of prices.”

French influence in Mexican cuisine can be traced back to 1863 and the Battle of Puebla, more commonly known as Cinco de Mayo. Today’s modern Mexican cooking is considered by culinary historians to be a fusion of three cuisines -- indigenous regional dishes, Spanish, and French. The food at Madrina will embrace that rich culture, with dishes that are simple yet presented in very elegant, imaginative and refined ways. Think Duck Confit Enfrijolada, Aguachile Caviar, Red Wine Braised Escargot Sopes, and Hay Smoked Foie Gras. 

Hoja Santa Wrapped Halibut With White Bean Ragù & Chorizo | Foodable WebTV Network

Hoja Santa Wrapped Halibut With White Bean Ragù & Chorizo | Foodable WebTV Network

“As a chef, there are a lot of things I’m excited about with the opening of Madrina," says Chef Peraza. "I’m French trained, and we’ll have a French brigade-style kitchen, where everything starts in the back and works its way forward. The imported French flat top for proteins and plancha for sopes and tortillas are being installed. But what I’m really excited about is we’ll have some of the best meats in town, and not just steaks -- we’ll be working with cabrito, lamb, and other meats as well. I think butchering has become a lost art, but it’s very important for everything we’ll be doing at Madrina. We’ll be dry-aging meats on-site. The receiving area will actually be the walk-in cooler. We’ll be able to handle 200 lb pigs and 60 lb halibut. We’ll receive them in whole, hang them in the walk-in, break them down, and do everything all on site. We want to use all the parts of the animals and the bones so we can make fish stock, broths, and stock for soups, finishing, deglazing, and making sauces. We want to utilize every part possible so nothing goes to waste. We’re thinking out of the box, and there are no boundaries!”

Potato Tamal, Crème Fraiche With Caviar | Foodable WebTV Network

Potato Tamal, Crème Fraiche With Caviar | Foodable WebTV Network

Madrina will be the second concept for the Misery Loves Co. Restaurant Group, which also owns local favorite Proof + Pantry in One Arts Plaza. Designers Breckinridge Taylor worked with the team, drawing inspiration from Mexico City and Paris. The interior space will be comfortable and is designed to be warm and welcoming to guests. Much like the cuisine, Madrina’s space will be simple, understated elegance with bold eclectic design elements to transport guests to an old Mexico. 

Madrina is located at 4216 Oak Lawn Avenue in Dallas (in the former Nosh space).