Leading by example is the recipe for success for Johan Van Niekerk, chef de Cuisine at LAW, the signature restaurant at Irving, Texas’ Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas.
“You need to be able to do everybody’s job better than they can do themselves,” Van Niekerk said. “If you can’t do it, how can you tell them what they can do?
“I treat the team with the respect they deserve, because without them I’m nothing,” he added.
Van Niekerk and his staff create premiere Lone Star State-focused cuisine that celebrates a “Land, Air, Water” theme—thus the name “LAW,” reflecting food that lives on the land, such as beef; flies in the air, i.e. poultry; or comes from the water, such as fish—with state-sourced meats and produce.
“We try to incorporate the Texas flair as much as possible,” Van Niekerk said. “All of the produce is fresh. The meat is not always from the same farm, but all comes from Texas, from the same supplier.”
A native of South Africa, Van Niekerk has plied his trade at Florida’s The Ritz-Carlton, Naples; Colorado’s Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail; Zino Ristorante, in Edwards, Colo.; Mirabelle, in Beaver Creek, Colo.; and Crystal Cruises.
Signature dishes at LAW include a 48-ounce Tomahawk rib-eye steak (land); whole branzino with watercress pesto and Texas cioppino, with scallops, prawns and swordfish (water); and “air” offerings that include turkey pot pie with pickled vegetables, chicken-fried quail and pan-seared pheasant with celery root puree, blood orange, charred onion and pickled fennel.
Other favorites from Van Niekerk’s first original menu for the restaurant, which debuted a week before Thanksgiving 2016, include a grilled pork chop with yam puree, rehydrated apricot and charred Brussels sprouts, and glazed short rib with carrot puree, French baby carrots and crispy shallots.
On the near horizon is the new OUTLAW Taproom, scheduled to open this month and featuring Texas craft beers, wines and cocktails, all on tap.
LAW, the cosmopolitan property’s premier F&B outlet, offers two private dining rooms that can accommodate up to 16 guests in the Wine Room and 16 guests in the Mesquite Room, with whole-restaurant buyouts available. LAW offers four to six PDR (private dining room) menus for dinner, and four for lunch and breakfast, so meeting planners can efficiently plan and price F&B functions for their groups.
The property’s banquet operation, separate from LAW, can accommodate up to 1,400, with options such as a seafood raw bar that offers a luxuriant touch to an upscale gathering.