Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House brimmed with smiling faces and warm laughter on a Friday evening.The patrons seemed like lifelong friends of servers and hosts. The bartenders could have been roommates with the customers.
“It’s like having a dinner party in your house every night,” said Richard Chamberlain, the owner and chef of this Addison, Texas restaurant.
Richard Chamberlain began his culinary career at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, where he trained under French chefs who forced him to hone his craft.
“All that stuff you see on TV — that’s mild compared to these guys,” Chamberlain said. “They were brutal but… it was some really good training for me at a really young age.”
One day at the Mansion, the soufflé cook was fired, and Chamberlain was tasked with making the soufflés. After some instruction, all was well until the executive sous chef Gui Leroy informed him that they had a special that night: a raspberry soufflé.
“Show me how you make it, chef,” said Chamberlain. “Five dollars,” replied Leroy.
Chamberlain paid and learned the soufflé recipe, as he did for each soufflé thereafter.
“It was well worth every dollar spent,” Chamberlain says. “This guy really knew his soufflés.”
Now, he still recreates the dish from time to time.
After his time at The Mansion, Chamberlain headed to the West Coast to work as a chef at the Hotel Bel-Air.
There, he gained an appreciation for West Coast-style cuisine. He incorporated fresher ingredients and a lighter approach to cooking into his style. More important, though, was that he was putting the customer first.
At the Bel-Air, Chamberlain was on call nearly all hours every day of the week.
“I was down in Cancun with our little daughter and I got a call from the hotel saying some VIPs were coming in the next day, and they asked if I could fly back and do a dinner for them,” Chamberlain said.
He was back in Los Angeles the next morning.
“With [Chamberlain], the customer always wins,” longtime friend and patron Mike Brosin said.
After some consideration, he and his family moved back to Dallas so he could start his own restaurant. Chamberlain opened his steakhouse in 1993 with a small amount of money and a daunting amount of work.
His work ethic would be rewarded on opening night. A group of eight people walked in, ready to sit for a nice dinner. Before ordering, they requested some drinks, specifically Bud Light.
Unfortunately for Chamberlain, the only light beer he had available was Amstel Light. The group started entertaining the idea of visiting a different restaurant, but before they could, Chamberlain said, “Don’t worry; I’ll get some Bud Light.”
He left the restaurant, drove down the road to a liquor store and brought the preferred beer.
“Those people are customers to this day,” Chamberlain said.
It is no surprise that some of the first customers of Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House are still regulars. The restaurant is filled with returning customers.
The food is an obvious reason. The steak is tender and delicious, the sides are carefully put together, and “mouthwatering” doesn’t do justice in describing the desserts. The restaurant won a rare four-star review from The Dallas Morning News in 2009.
Something else also makes Chamberlain’s a hubbub of friendliness and camaraderie. Ricky Cancino, a senior server at the steakhouse, sums it up in three words: “Care, love, and passion.”
According to Cancino, all three words have the same source: “Everything starts from Mr. Chamberlain. It’s very special.”
“It’s more than a business,” Chamberlain’s general manager Jim Truman said. “It’s a family environment.”
Both employees understand what it means to be part of the Chamberlain’s family. Cancino has worked there for 15 years; Truman has done so for nine years. They have both lasted so long partly because they agree with Chamberlain’s vision for the restaurant.
“It’s really just taking care of people,” Chamberlain said.
Mike Brosin feels that Richard Chamberlain is the best in the business when it comes to taking care of people. Between his praise of Chamberlain’s kind demeanor and unmatched cooking ability, he describes a situation exemplifying why Chamberlain is different than the rest.
A woman once ordered a steak medium-rare, then complained when it was undercooked. Chamberlain unhesitatingly brought it back to the kitchen and made a new one.
Then, when the woman again had an issue with the steak, now claiming it was overcooked, Chamberlain just smiled, apologized, and provided another one.
“That’s why he’s the most consistent chef in the D-FW Metroplex,” Brosin said.
Mike Brosin’s assessment of Richard Chamberlain’s demeanor and attitude toward food is spot-on. He puts the customer first, doing whatever it takes to make sure they leave happy and come back for more.
It’s Richard Chamberlain’s dinner party, and, as Jim Truman said, “He’s the ultimate host.”