Welcome to Deep in the Heart of Dallas! Our latest series, focused on sharing the stories of the Dallas Black community, follows local creatives through the city to learn about favorite spots, must-taste foodie finds and how the city inspires their work. Today, we kick things off with Janel Fields.
A New York native, Janel is now proud to call Dallas home. Her passion for food stems from a strong family influence – her family spent a lot of time in the kitchen and it led to her current career. Chef Fields' repertoire includes everything from meal prep, private and corporate events, cooking classes, cookbooks and more – all implementing fresh and creative cuisine, one meal at a time. Let's take a deep dive into Chef Fields' story!
Tell us about your journey to Dallas and love for food:
I'm not new to Dallas; my family and I lived here in the 90s and I came back in 2014 after I received my undergrad degree. Food is in my bloodline on both sides of the family, but primarily my dad's side. Cooking with my grandmother at a young age created traditions. Taking the recipes that we did together and incorporating them into what I like to cook today fuels my love for food deeper. Around 2017 I began taking food seriously; it became therapeutic for me.
What makes Dallas home?
When I think of Dallas, I think of a comfortable life where I can see myself potentially raising children with my husband. I've embraced the lifestyle here and my friends have become family.
Describe your perfect day in Dallas.
One thing that I've been trying to incorporate is a lot of self-care days. My perfect day would be relaxing at home or booking a hotel in Downtown Dallas to chill. I also like to do a little shopping; they just opened Eataly in NorthPark Center, which I've been to four or five times already. I enjoy shopping for fresh pasta, bread, oils, and fresh meats from there.
What's your favorite thing to eat in Dallas?
I like Velvet Taco. If I could, I'd eat there once a week. I like how they put a modern twist on different tacos, and it's inviting for everyone even if you're living a pescatarian or plant-based lifestyle – you can get any kind of taco there. I also recently went to Nobu Dallas and really enjoyed the experience.
Where can we find you on a weekend afternoon?
I've become a plant mom so I really enjoy Dallas Farmer's Market. I can go get my plants from Ruibal's and then pick up fresh fruits and vegetables in The Shed, a bite to eat, and visit the shops inside The Market as well.
Tell us about a neighborhood you love.
I like the Trinity Groves area because of all the new businesses popping up. I enjoy going to Soiree Coffee Bar to do work (I love the energy there!) and I can go across the street to check out the restaurants. You can walk the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge at night, which is beautiful. and if I drive down the street to the Bishop Arts District, there are plenty of local small businesses to visit.
The go-to place to take out-of-towners?
When things were safer and my friends were in town, I would take them to Park Avenue on Fridays. That used to be my spot. You can have a good time, network, eat good, have good drinks, listen to good music and unwind after a long week.
What is your favorite Dallas memory and what are you looking forward to in 2021?
The State Fair of Texas; I've been just about every year since I've been here. I've also seen a lot of concerts at the fairgrounds like Jill Scott and H.E.R. Some of my favorite things to eat are gizzards, fried Oreos, and the Wok Rice n' Roll by Chef Kevin Ashade.
I missed the drive-thru experience last year, but I'm definitely planning on going this year, in whatever form it happens. I'm also looking forward to exploring my city more and visiting other neighborhoods. I'm not as familiar with the East Dallas and White Rock area, and I'm looking forward to trying its food scene and restaurants.
To learn more about Janel, her chef services, and what she's up to in Dallas, follow her on Instagram: @chefjanelfields