Feb 12, 2024 - Food and Drink

Oak Cliff chef tests running his own restaurant in this month's Kitchen Combine

A man in a chef's apron behind the stovetop at a restaurant

Carl Harris is trying his brunch concept in Arlington this month. Photo: Courtesy of Kitchen Combine

Chef Carl Harris has been in the private dining and catering industry for over a decade. This month, he's learning what it takes to run a restaurant that's open to the public.

His background: Food was a big part of Harris' upbringing in a Black-Latinx household. He got into cooking after enrolling at UNT, using his roommates as his "guinea pigs" and occasionally selling plates of food to make extra money.

  • An apprenticeship with a Dallas restaurant years later segued into his own catering business.
  • He has appeared in Season 16 of the Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race" and catered for the Oprah Winfrey Network's "Ready to Love" seasons in Dallas and Fort Worth.

What's new: The Kitchen Combine's January chef nominated Harris' Cravings for one of the February spots.

  • He's worked closely with his sous-chef and two other employees to roll out and refine his brunch concept.
  • And he's learning how to analyze data from a point-of-sale system, incorporate feedback from diners and time the cooking process so each group's orders are ready around the same time.
  • "I've helped other restaurants, but I've never operated my concept. This feels different. There's a sense of pride that comes with it," Harris tells Axios.

The intrigue: The dishes are beautifully plated, highlighting Harris' background in upscale dining. His menu offers a new take on comfort foods like strawberry shortcake, shrimp and grits and sweet potato pie.

  • Many of his existing clients have also come by Kitchen Combine this month, pleased they can get his food without having to wait for his catering.

The bottom line: "We've never had this opportunity to serve from a live kitchen. We've always catered or done private work, so everything is already set," Harris says. "This is going to be our test — can we really do it? Can we make it?"

If you go: Kitchen Combine is open 7am-3pm for Harris' brunch service and 4-7pm for Chef Bruce Strain's slider bar.

  • They're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

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