Meeting a Legend
by J.B. Blocker
Ewald Scholz has brought elegance to the madness of perfection. Ask anyone. Perfectionist is always mentioned.
He is energized and driven by the soul of hospitality. The great chef is 'Front of House', 'Back of House', and all points in between. He proved to be a mentor and guide from a young age. No detail escaped him. He lived his historic culinary carrier with a whip and a rose. I have seen it in the many ways.
He has traveled the world of cuisine like Marco Polo and then presented what he has learned with thoughtful elegance. He has influenced thousands and charmed thousands more.
I was visiting chef a few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon. Chef and I were standing on his back patio when the doorbell rings. His story is so big that an inadvertent team has formed. Dotty Griffith and Gay Prewitt have joined Pete and myself to revel in the names and places that have been woven into his tapestry.
Chef Pete Nolasco and his video recorder have arrived. Without hesitation he virtually sprints across his living room, kitchen, and foyer to get to the front. He doesn’t want the guest at his front door to have to wait to be greeted.
“This man is ’83, undergoing chemo, and he has been waiting on my every thought since I had parked.” 50 yards away, he had walked to me in a hurry to open the gate for me. He minds our seating and comfort. He allows me to make coffee but still provides iced water and searches for other possible needs.
Much later, Chef Pete attempts to clear the table after a snack of perfectly chopped onions, thinly sliced salmon, a serving of mixed crackers and cheeses and a very nice wine. He curses, “Damn it! Leave that alone!” I mentioned this to one of his longtime friends a few days later who’s response is, “That probably offended him! He is the consummate host don’t you know!”
We had met a few other times but having only lived in Dallas for the past 24 years, I wasn’t part of his glory days. Actually, I was. I didn’t realize it until only recently.
My 1st fine dining experience wasn’t until 1986 at the restaurant at the Stoneleigh. It was Ewald’s!
Dining at Ewald's
One of my best friends (crazy wealthy) was celebrating his SMU Doctorate and flew me in from Amarillo. The special diner was being prepared by a famous chef and Richard had a room for me at the Stoneleigh. (my 1st stay in a motel with elevators)
The tables were set for a movie scene. All the glasses, utensils, choreographed like a piece of art.
I grew up in the panhandle. My big city was Lubbock and Amarillo. I have worked at the lumber yard, drove a tractor, and even worked a summer at the stockyard. Before that, my idea of fine dining was the Red Lobster and the Hoffbrau. I did not like Mogen David or Mellow Days and Gentle Nights or some such so I wasn’t a fan of wine.
But on that night, we had a Keyser Leibframilch Glockenspiel that was a revelation and then a Pine Ridge Cab that demanded smaller and smaller sips.
I tasted my 1st caviar, sliced meat and assorted cheese plate with fancy breads, my 1st Caesar Salad prepared table side. Escargot, Lamb Ribs, Lobster Bisque, Lobster Thermidor ( I knew I would have to have more), A Flambéed Dessert, and Dom Perigion. All first.
By then, I had become a successful professional and had begun to add adventure to my dining. I was ready to taste the world. Since that evening I began to take in the experience of dining. I especially ordered the Thermidor on multiple company cruises and a few other times in New York and Boston. It was never what I remembered. Of course, how could any dish stand on its own when you have to compare to a total dining experience?
Several years ago, I gave up on ordering that dish. But now, I will again order Lobster Thermidor just to toast the man who will always have been responsible for a dozen memorable first for me.
All of these culinary 1st that still resonate. Because my wealthy friend’s mother wanted a special diner of some of her son’s favorites and she wanted Chef Ewald to prepare it. And his restaurant was at a hotel. The Stoneleigh of Dallas.
Always keep in mind. Every day, one or more people will sit at your table and experience several 1st. Whether it is a chicken-fried steak, bbq, or the top of the food chain.
Can you accept the challenge that each opportunity to give someone a memorable experience should not be missed?
Will someone like me be talking about it nearly 30 years later? This spirit of Pride for Hospitality is what drives the chefs it possesses. It fuels Chef Ewald Scholtz.
|photo by D-Magazine|
With the help of Dotty Griffith and Gay Prewitt, the gathering was a culinary and historical success. Each of the guest was given time to share memories as it was videotaped. Ewald could barely speak when the microphone was handed to him. Laryngitis!
(I have the tapes!)
On the evening of the EWMCS Team U.S. A. farewell mixer not long after, Ewald is dressed impeccably and comes to me smiling as he warmly grasp my hands with those long fingers of an artist. They are strong and firm, yet gentle. They wrap around my hands like a hug. He leans toward me to apologize for his voice and tells me that the laryngitis that had hampered his moment to speak at The Reunion and has prevented us from meeting to work on his biography turns out to be cancer. He is apologizing?
I see his paleness as he explains that he has just undergone chemo that afternoon but would not have missed this. I watch him through the evening, I am seeing his grace, his elegance, and his stamina that come only from his heart. As we move around the 200+ gathering he is being treated like a favorite by all.
He has not slowed down. His spirit now fuels his treatment and recovery.
Biographies are the true taste of History. The more I know about this man, the more I need to know.
Part 2: Recklinghausen and beyond (1931-1955)
- J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Collin County in North Texas. Advertise with J.B. by calling 469-334-9962.