Chef Tiffany Derry's Roots Southern Table is now open in Farmers Branch. (Photo by Alyssa Vincent)
Top Chef alum and Beaumont-native chef Tiffany Derry's Roots Southern Table in Farmers Branch is a finalist for the James Beard Best New Restaurant Award. (Courtesy photo)
Craft cocktails at Roots Southern Table include global flavors like Korean melon in the Southern Collins. (Photo by Alyssa Vincent)
Of course, Derry's famous duck-fat fried chicken is on the menu at Roots Southern Table. (Photo by Alyssa Vincent)
The spring pea salad at Roots Southern Table includes fresh burrata, radishes, and candied bacon. (Photo by Alyssa Vincent)
Walking into the Roots Southern Table space at Mustang Station in Farmers Branch, you can tell every detail has been carefully considered. From the bright, modern space to the flavorful Southern menu, how could you expect anything less from a former Top Chef contestant?
From growing up on a farm in Beaumont, Texas to traveling the world to discover different cooking techniques, chef Tiffany Derry has spent years mastering her craft. But with Roots Southern Table, you can literally taste her passion for Southern food and its different interpretations.
“I grew up in a big family from Louisiana and Beaumont and everyone cooked,” Derry tells PaperCity. “But they always said I made things look pretty.”
Derry started out in the food industry at just 15 years old, quickly perfecting the art of working in a fast-paced environment. She even became the manager of an IHOP at 16 before heading to culinary school at the Art Institute of Houston. Derry placed fifth overall during her small screen tenure on Top Chef: DC in 2010, but she did walk away with a coveted title: Fan Favorite.
From there, Derry tried her hand at restaurant ownership. Dallas’ Private Social restaurant may have come and gone, but a 2016 partnership with attorney Tom Foley proved to be a sweet success. In 2017, the duo (known as T2D Concepts) opened Roots Chicken Shak at Plano’s Legacy Hall, which is home to her famous duck-fat fried chicken (former president Barack Obama enjoyed the dish twice at the White House).
Now the T2D team, who are fierce advocates for equity in the hospitality industry, is hoping to franchise the Roots Chicken Shak concept out to women and people of color in underserved communities.
But Roots Southern Table, now open in Farmers Branch, is all chef Derry. Inspired by her, well, roots, the menu is an ode to the chef’s favorite family recipes.
“My grandmother was cooking field-to-table before it was a trend, and always welcomed guests with food,” she says. Her mother’s gumbo recipe is also on the new restaurant’s menu — a mix of chicken, Zummo’s sausage, Louisiana shrimp, blue crab, file, and herb rice.
A big part of Roots Southern Table for Derry is educating diners on how versatile Southern food can be.
“People want to put a [single] dish to Southern food, but it’s so vast,” she says. Derry points to New Orleans, in particular, as offering many different variations on “Southern” food. “German sausage is huge there,” Derry adds. “And New Orleans has the second-largest Vietnamese community in the country. I want people to come in [to Roots] open-minded.”
More traditional dishes (“Down Home Roots”) include cast iron cornbread, fried shrimp and grits, Southern greens, and gumbo, though each features a unique chef Derry touch. Modern dishes (“Modern Roots”) include black eyed pea hummus, char-grilled okra, and Texas peaches sourced from Cooper Farms in Fairfield. “I drove myself an hour and a half to pick up peaches the other day,” Derry laughs.
Of course, Derry’s famous duck fat fried chicken is also on the menu, served family-style as a whole bird. “Duck fat fried fries with aioli are big in France,” she says. She used to eat them all the time when she traveled there, so the inventive chef decided to apply the style to chicken one day.
“I had never made chicken in a restaurant before. So if I did, it had to be the best,” she says. “The duck fat adds an umami flavor to the chicken, and makes it crispy without being greasy.”
Other supper items include crawfish boil ravioli, halibut, jerk lamb chop, grilled mushrooms, duck breast, and a Coulotte steak.
A full cocktail menu offers several creative drinks with house-made syrups. The Kool-Aid, an alcoholic twist on the Roots Chicken Shak favorite made with Tito’s, was a highlight. Another great cocktail on the lighter side is the Southern Collins, a mix of gin, Steen’s syrup, seasonal melon, club soda, and lemon.
The airy Roots Southern Table interiors are a compliment to the chef Derry experience — an open-kitchen concept and full-bar allow guests to see it all.
“From the dishwashers to the cooks, we want diners to be included in everything,” Foley says. The space also includes a few “conversation starters,” as Foley calls them, in the form of quotes from famous Black writers.
Whether you live in the Farmers Branch area or not, the goal of Mustang Station is to be a destination for all. Cox Farms Market, Cedar Creek Brewhouse & Eatery, and Starwood Cafe are already open. Along with Roots, Red Stix and The Victoria Restaurant are opening soon.
“We were particular about the location,” says Foley. “At Mustang Station, there’s support. Every restaurant feeds off each other.”
You can now book reservations at Roots Southern Table Tuesdays through Sundays starting at 5 pm. A brunch menu will also be coming soon.