Restaurant Chef, Cooking Champion and Visionary
Never one to follow the crowd, Chef Gorji does everything a bit differently. From his innovative cooking and restaurant philosophies to his gourmet foods line, the cookbook author often breaks with conventional wisdom and follows his heart instead.
Many Dallas “Firsts” For This Maverick Chef and Restauranteur
Shopping every day for the best ingredients he can find, using simple cooking techniques, like his short cooking times, he is known for unexpected flavors and pairings. He is in the kitchen every night personally cooking, keeping the focus on food, flavor and a pleasurable dining experience for his guests.
In breaking with the usual restaurant models, the small 8-table Canary By Gorji doesn't have TVs. In other firsts in the Dallas restaurant scene, he doesn't turn tables to seat more people and doesn't seat young children. In 2016, Canary became Dallas' only no-tipping restaurant. Choosing to pay his servers a liveable wage instead of the old fashioned, unsustainable tipping system, he believes no-tipping is the wave of the future.
Signature Upscale “New Mediterranean” Cuisine
He is inspired by the food from around the Mediterranean Basin. Interchanging ingredients and techniques he creates his signature upscale New Mediterranean cuisine. He keeps the emphasis on the essence of a dish, not worrying about authenticity or tradition.
“I believe gourmet food starts with fresh ingredients, simple preparation and seasoning that allows the natural taste of the food to be the star.”
As the back-to-back Texas Steak Cook-off Champion, the Dallas Observer says he has mastered meat cookery to perfection. They praised the simplicity of his grillwork that brings out the inherent flavor of the meats, saying “The Beef Tenderloin in particular is one of the best [steaks] in the Metroplex.”
Two years in a row he won first place in the Texas Steak Cookoff in Hico, competing against some of the best chefs in Texas. His winning recipe was published in Texas Monthly Best 38 Steakhouse feature and in The Big Texas Steakhouse Book
Gorji Gourmet Foods Line— Tastes Just Picked!
Gorji began bottling his gourmet sauces in 2006, in response to demand from customers at his restaurant. Diners often described them as “Tastes Just Picked,” so that became the slogan for his entire product line of Mediterranean-inspired sauces, marinades, dips and spreads. Each recipe has rich and complex flavor, as if it simmered on the stove for hours — yet it just takes minutes to open the lid and serve.
The first Gorji Gourmet pizza and pasta sauces— Pomodoro and Puttanesca were launched in 2006. Soon to follow was the The Dipping Oil & Marinade Steak Primer that he used on his steaks to win back-to-back Texas Steak Cookoff Championships in 2004 and 2005. Then came the Pomegranate Vinaigrette and Remoulade. The sauces, marinades, dips and spread are the same flavors and tastes for use at home that he developed from recipes he cooks with at the restaurant. They provide the gourmet base and just need to be heated and added to pasta, pizza, chicken, veal, seafood or preparing steaks, salads and sandwiches. They are now sold in Dallas area Whole Foods Market, gourmet stores online at www.gorjigourmet and at the restaurant.
All five products have won ZestFest and Scovie gold, silver and bronze awards in 2015, 2016, 2017. The Arrabiata Diavolo has won the coveted Golden Chile Award all three years.
"Zing! Cookbook Sizzles with Surprising Flavors and Savory Secrets of "New Mediterranean" Cuisine
Pure olive oil. Lots of limes. Few batters, coatings, or rubs. No tahini in that hummus. Instead, an imaginative, personal, and highly memorable take on enhancing natural flavors.
The cookbook author spills the secrets behind his headline making new mediterranean cuisine recipes in his award-winning debut cookbook. He won the Texas Steak Cook-Off Championship twice with his take on steak with pomegranates!
Chef Gorji shows how to use ingredients such as pomegranates, sumac, grapefruit, barberries and capers to add boldness and flavor to dishes in his colorful and easy to follow cookbook.
Gorji has been cooking since he was five. The family matriarch, Mama Gorji, insisted all the children learn to cook for the family. They were tough critics, he says, not a bit concerned with the cook's self-esteem. There was tradition to be upheld, and the family was accustomed to good food.
In addition to the required time in the kitchen learning to appreciate the work involved in preparing food, some of their seasonal tasks were making lime juice, unripe grape juice, tomato juice and pomegranate puree to put in the cellar for use year round. Looking back Gorji now says "little did we know that she was teaching us flavors and ratios as our basic tools. The rest is imagination and creativity." That early training and attitude about food, combined with his travels around the Mediterranean areas has evolved into the "New Mediterranean" style cuisine that he cooks today. Many of the old world dishes relied on heavy spices and long cooking times. "I use the freshest ingredients, prime cuts of meats, minimal spices and have developed short cooking time techniques that allow me to make these dishes with their old world essence, but per order for my guests."
With a degree in engineering, Gorji traveled the world. Wherever he went, he spent his spare time soaking up the culture and learning the local culinary arts. His first love was always cooking, his fondest dream to own his own restaurant. Eventually he was in a position to give up engineering, move to Texas and follow his dream. After gaining experience in 'the front of the house', starting two restaurants in Austin and Francesca in North Dallas, Gorji opened Canary Mediterranean Steak & Seafood in 2003.
Gorji says he is "having the time of his life." Mama Gorji would be proud!
Gorji’s recipes and techniques have been featured in national magazines Skies, Gourmet Retailer and local and state magazines and sites Texas Monthly, D Home, D Magazine, Modern Luxury, Paper City, Ft Worth Star Telegram, Dallas Morning News, and others.
Accolades & Milestones
I will be quick and to the point: Canary By Gorji is the most underrated restaurant in Dallas. Every time I eat there I am seduced by the creative cooking and I fall in love with Chef Gorji.
His food is so clean; so delicious. My mother claimed the pork chop as the best she has ever eaten. Gorji is a hard working chef. Not only does he cook every night, he supports local charities and produces a line of products which are sold online and in local stores. I have never seen him without a smile and a good-natured laugh. Go visit him. He will dazzle your taste buds and your heart.
— Nancy Nichols, DMagazine May 2012
No chef has done more to personalize the experience at his restaurant—
Four Dallas restaurants redefine the art of fine dining —Dotty Griffith, Modern Luxury Magazine — Jan/Feb 2011
He probably understands Texas steak better than anyone.
— Dave Faries, Dallas Observer, 2010
Chef Gorji's innovative take on Mediterranean specialties has made his Addison establishment, Canary Mediterranean Steak & Seafood, an award-winning fine dining destination. And, thanks to his own line of gourmet foods, chef-wannabes can mimic his most in-demand dishes. Use his Pomegranate Champagne Vinaigrette as a marinade for pork chops and poultry. Better still, get ready to fire up the grill after basting a rib-eye with Gorji Steak Primer—the same olive-oil blend that won him best steak in the Texas Steak Cook-off Championship twice in a row! — Modern Luxury Magazine, 2008
DBest — DMagazine
• Top Mediterranean in Dallas/Fort Worth — ZAGAT 2008, 2009
• Steak Recipe Published — TexasMonthly, Best Steakhouse issue 2007
• Chef of the Month — DHome Magazine 2006
• Texas Steak Cookoff Champion 2004, 2005