Knife Dallas has carried the tag “a modern steakhouse,” and it certainly offers an impressive array of steaks, listed on the menu as “new school,” “old school” and “exotic.”
But one of the most rave-generating items on the menu is a burger, listed simply as THE OZERSKY. It’s a tribute to Josh Ozersky, the meat-loving — some would say meat-obsessed — food critic that Knife chef John Tesar befriended a few years ago.
When news broke that Ozersky died unexpxectedly this week at age 47, my first instinct was to look at Tesar’s Twitter feed. This was his first tweet on the subject:
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Since then, others have tagged Tesar and Knife Dallas on Twitter with their own tributes to Ozersky — which often included eating an Ozersky burger in the late food critic’s honor.
Tesar has expanded on that with an appreciation of Ozersky for Bon Appetit. “Despite his awkward, disturbing individuality and crass, almost barbaric nature, he had a brilliant mind, a silver tongue, and a heart of gold,” Tesar writes. “He was challenging by his very nature. He was misunderstood and disliked by many as well. But unlike most food writers, he never played favorites.”
Tesar writes that he met Ozersky in 2010 when Tesar was a contestant on Food Network’s Extreme Chef. “Years later over a few stiff drinks late at night on a chance meeting at a food festival, we laughed at how bad that show was, but how funny and ironic it was that we first met on the set of a Food Network program,” Tesar writes.
They’d meet occasionally over the years, talk about food and food culture, and, of course, meat, especially burgers. “He would visit me at my restaurant in Dallas and make versions of hamburgers I had never seen before.” Tesar writes. “Not gloppy fancy creations—basic, simple, yet fantastic creations based on the simplest of combinations.”
In February, reports came out that Tesar had landed a book deal, and that Ozersky would write Knife: Modern Steak and All American Meats with him. “I chose Josh to write my book because I knew he would make it better,” Tesar writes. “He would challenge me, correct me, argue with me, and bring out my passions and thoughts. I am sad we will not go on this journey together, and I will miss him every day.”
There is more to Tesar’s affectionate tribute, which shows another side of the oft-contentious chef. We don’t want to quote all of it; it deserves to be read on its own terms. Check it out here.