For almost 20 years, III Forks has remained one of Dallas’s best-known prime steakhouses. Since it’s 1998 opening, it has become a holy mecca for steak-loving Dallasites and high-class connoisseurs. While things operate smoothly on a nightly basis, there is a lot of work that goes in to make sure guest service and overall experience are both impeccable.
On an April afternoon, I have the privilege of speaking with Proprietor and Executive Chef, Chris Vogeli. It is about an hour before dinnertime, but luckily, Vogeli has a good amount of time to talk to me in between staff meetings and front-of-house huddles.
“Since early on, we’ve always lived by the philosophy of taking care of everyone who enters our four walls,” Vogeli says of his III Forks team. “Consistency is the biggest challenge we face every day, but we always go out of our way to create a good atmosphere and to provide top-notch service.”
As one would expect, Vogeli is a perfectionist, therefore he is constantly training his employees to ensure that they are meeting the needs of everyone who walks in.
“We spend a lot of time and money on training and on continuing training,” Vogeli says. “Nowadays, with dietary restrictions, we’re challenged on a daily basis. You’ve got the whole gluten-free thing, plus other trends. All of our servers are trained to guide those patrons into making good choices so they can come in and dine within their dietary needs.”
In order to meet everyone’s needs, Vogeli utilizes the highest quality ingredients in all of his dishes. However, given Texas’s notorious weather patterns, sourcing ingredients can prove difficult at times.
“We try to source locally, Vogeli says. “Unfortunately, we have short seasons in Texas. We’ve got grapefruit that we’ll incorporate into our dishes in January and February. We’ve got blueberries and peaches in June, but Texas’s unpredictable weather makes it tough to source locally.”
Vogeli also has included dishes on his menu, specifically intended for those wanting something other than steak, or heavy meats.
“We offer some great seafood dishes,” Vogeli says. “It’s not just steaks. There’s something for everybody here.”
While Dallas, specifically the Far North, is becoming a hot-and-happening dining and nightlife district, III Forks has managed to remain the epitome of all things Dallas. However, this status has not been met without competition.
“Right now, there are too many stores in the area,” Vogeli says. “We’re not suffering, but this still poses a challenge. You’ve got all these fancy new places opening up in Plano and Frisco, and people are flocking to them. But trends come and go, and eventually, people find their way back to us.”
Although III Forks is a world-renowned steakhouse, Vogeli insists that those wanting to learn the craft of a luxury chef don’t need to stray too far from their own backyard.
“I’m a graduate from the El Centro Culinary Arts program,” Vogeli says. “I graduated in 1986 under Gus Kasrigis. Parents come up to me all the time and say ‘My kid wants to go into culinary arts, where should I send them?’ and I tell them ‘you can send them anywhere they want to go, but do not discount El Centro before making the final decision.’”
Vogeli also notes the importance of remembering to remain humble in the workplace. He reiterates that no task in the restaurant is beneath anyone.
“You cannot be afraid to roll up your sleeves and jump into it,” Vogeli says. “You’ve got to be able to do every job that makes up the restaurant. Whether it’s mixing a drink or helping the dishwasher, you cannot be afraid to put in the work.”
This Sunday, III Forks will be offering a special Mother’s Day brunch menu from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. To make reservations, call (972)-267-1776.