Welcome to Carmel, California’s new star, Seventh & Dolores, an elegant and social, “boutique steak house,” artfully produced by Folktale Winery and headed up by bigger than life personality, sometime “Celebrity Chef,” Todd Fisher.
This October, CW Magazine visited “7D”, (originally constructed as a bank in the 1970’s, on the corner of Seventh & Dolores in Carmel) to get the low down from Chef Fisher on the venues exciting summer opening, its Niman Ranch exclusivity, and his career journey being a self-professed “blue collar” chef.
Credit for personal success: The teams that I’ve built past and present. One of the reasons I got into this industry was the mentorship that I received. That has always been a level I wanted to achieve, to have enough knowledge, experience…bandwidth to help grow other people in this industry.
Seventh and Dolores’ quick rise to “must go there” status: The entire team behind Seventh & Dolores (or 7D), are the most devoted, talented and best humans a person could work with. From proprietary owner Jeff Peterson, Folktale’s Gregory Ahn, Chef De Cuisine Jeremiah Tydeman; front house VP of Hospitality, John Fitzgerald, and back of house staff, you name it. 7D’s success hinges on being a new restaurant that benefits from an old team that really knows and respects each other.
Greatest Mentor: Everyone wants to have the answer of Thomas Keller etc. My greatest mentor is Jeff Jake, an unsung hero of a lot of great jobs, currently at Silverado Golf Course in Napa. It was his joy for cooking and his ability to be flexible, that made me go, ‘Okay not every chef is a rigid asshole that yells at everyone and leads by fear.’ Chef Jake led by the mentorship concept. When he saw you failing he would jump in and help without belittling or beating you up. He made you feel like, “Okay, I can do better. I can do this job.”
Word to describe you: “Fearless.”
How would you describe Seventh & Dolores: A boutique steak house. Like a boutique winery, I’m not out to have a Seventh & Dolores on every street corner. 7D embodies the feel and character of a big city steakhouse and is unlike anything else in Carmel. The boutique aspect to me is also that we’re working exclusively with Niman Ranch; the only exclusive Niman Ranch steakhouse in the country.
Why Niman Ranch? I’m fifth generation Californian. I’ve known Niman since it started in Marin, CA. I’ve known the quality and integrity of the product forever. Niman Ranch cows feed on a combination of pasture and corn which offers much more rounded flavor than just grass-fed cattle which can bring out too much ‘minerality.’ And Niman Ranch is much more humane. They truly consider the animal at every stage and for this, their product just tastes better.
7D Signature Steaks: I originally thought the Cowboy Chops and Rib Eye on the bone were going to be our most impressive. But the Kansas City is also really spectacular. Our Bone in New York’s are eating phenomenally. Our signature steak offering would have to be the 7D Carpetbagger, which involves a Dry Aged New York Bone topped with a huge slab of Bakers Bacon and cornmeal fried oysters. Amazing!
Sidebar Etymology of ‘Carpetbagger:’ 1868, American English, scornful appellation for Northerners who went South after the fall of the CSA seeking private gain or political advancement. The name is based on the image of men arriving with all their worldly goods in a sbig carpetbag.
7D Steak Feedback: Niman Ranch quality stands up and delivers time and time again. We have a lot of people who live in Carmel half the year but are based out of Dallas. And these guys are telling me Niman Ranch is the best steak they have ever had, and Texans know their steaks. They want us to open a 7D in Dallas!
Seventh & Dolores Opening Impressions: My wife is tired of hearing this comparison, but having a new restaurant is kind of like having a new kid. You want to be there all the time. You think, ‘What if local chefs come in? You don’t want to miss the tradition of sharing the first sips of Louie 13th! ‘Louie’ has been hit pretty hard here in recent days. It’s been magic. It really has.
Philosophy: Be f-ing great every f-ing day.
Favorite Cut: 48 ounce Cowboy Chops or 32-ounce Porterhouse. Can’t keep them in the house. Optimal Dry Aging: 28 to 32 days gets that lactic quality going and contributes a nuttiness and butteriness. The meat will still have a juicy element and not be too dry. You want it fatty and juicy even though it’s aged. Longer (aging) than that can taste a bit fermented, which some people like. But it can also become a challenge for people to understand.
Thoughts on a 100 Day Dry Aging: I want to eat it like a prosciutto a carpaccio. This is how you’re going to get the true essence of the meat at this stage. Once you’ve aged it that long, if you cook it, it almost destroys the whole process.
CW and Sales Rep Crystal Price: Crystal has been awesome. She earned the business back by coming in, showing up, offering samples, and taking no for an answer, multiple, multiple times. When I have an issue Crystal attacks it. She gets me answers right way. It’s awesome because I had thought CW was a specialty item company until my Chef De Cuisine Jeremiah said ‘Dude, I buy everything from CW!’
Did you set out to be a father of five? I kind of did. But it was hard getting dates. I’d be like ‘Hey, you want to go out? By the way, I want five kids. And they’d be like ‘check please!’
Future of Food: People will be edging towards more vegan and eating less beef less regularly. But when they go out for a great meal, they will want a spectacular beef experience, like we offer at Seventh & Dolores.