Exciting things are happening at Regatta Grill & Bar! We’ve got special events, updated menus, and an amazing new chef on deck…
McKinney-based chef Jeff Qualls joined Long Cove this spring and brings years of experience to the table. He’s an alumnus of The Culinary Institute of America, a successful restaurateur with 14 restaurant openings under his belt, and an extremely talented chef with a proven track record in all facets of catering and hospitality. Jeff already has an incredible Dallas following — seriously, he’s kind of a big deal — and Long Cove couldn’t be prouder to call him one of our own.
We caught up with Jeff and Events Planner Lauren Twichell to see what they have in the works for Regatta Grill & Bar. With her event savvy and his culinary expertise, they make a dynamic duo. In fact, they’ve worked together many times over the years. And we think you’ll love what they have planned.
Read on to get the scoop and learn a fun fact or two.
How do you describe your culinary style?
Jeff: I’m the guy that likes to cook, locally and seasonally. I want to promote local farmers. It helps create awareness around food and where it comes from. I try to go to the farmers market every Saturday. I’m the guy there at 8 AM with a cart.
How did you two meet?
Lauren: I started in catering and events with Kent Rathbun; that’s where I first worked with Jeff. After joining Long Cove, I approached Jeff about building the food program. I started my catering career in the Dallas area, so I’m very familiar with how talented he is. He was my one and only choice for Long Cove. He’s incredibly forward-thinking and has his pulse on farm-to-table trends and products. He’s the absolute perfect fit.
What attracted you to Long Cove?
Jeff: It’s beautiful. The Long Cove staff is full of very positive people. They’re always willing to help. That’s what ultimately attracted me to Long Cove. I have a private club background, so I know it’s all in the details: remembering people’s names and what their kids like. To me, hospitality is a dying art. This is such a unique opportunity. You’re at the lake. People want to have a good time. Our job is to enhance that experience.
Lauren: Everything. One of the original homeowners is an event planner, who I’ve worked with for a decade. She knew they were looking for someone and recommended me, which was great. It’s one of the most interesting places to work. It’s always changing. I get to feed off of homeowner ideas and be creative. I also get feedback from homeowners, which is fun because I’m able to make sure everything is tailored to their wants.
When it comes to your work, do you have a “golden rule?”
Jeff: Don’t miss an opportunity to add flavor. Can you use wine or stock instead of water? Should it be roasted first? Also, use the whole product. I don’t like putting stuff in the trash. If I’m going to bring in a stalk of celery, I want to have usage for the leaves, the hearts, and the ribs. Designing menus that way forces you to be more creative.
Lauren: There’s always a way to say, “Yes.” I like to find creative ways to meet clients’ needs. I try to anticipate what they need.
What’s your favorite Long Cove event?
Lauren: I really love 4th of July. It’s so much fun to see families come out and enjoy all of the activities, like the Golf Cart Parade – everyone goes all out!
What are your favorite restaurants around Dallas?
Lauren: Right now, I really love The Charles. It’s consistently very good. I also love Beverly’s Bistro & Bar and Shinsei. For Mexican food, Mi Cocina is a staple — and E-Bar Tex Mex.
Jeff: I went to The Charles the other day — that was really good. My friend has a place called Whistle Britches that’s great. In Dallas, there’s a taco stand inside a Chevron, Fuel City Taco, that’s probably the best taco around.
What’s your favorite summer dish?
Jeff: I always look forward to tomato season. I love fresh Silver Queen Corn. Summertime forces you to eat healthier and fresher. I also love a good succotash. And peaches are about to come online. Ham Orchard in Terrell has the best peach ice cream.
Lauren: I love a watermelon, feta cheese, balsamic and mint vibe. It’s super fresh. I really enjoy cooking. I’m not as skilled as someone like Jeff, but we cook a lot at our house.
What’s your favorite poolside drink?
Jeff: During summertime it’s going to be a painkiller.
Lauren: A Paloma with grapefruit is always super refreshing.
Can you share some spoilers on what you have planned for Regatta Grill & Bar?
Jeff: We hope to be able to do some fun events. We talked about doing cocktail hours and grilling out by the pool with small bites. There are opportunities for wine and tequila dinners. We have a new amenity in the works that we’ll be able to take throughout Long Cove. More to come on that.
Lauren: We’re going to have some fun twists this summer. We’re planning a welcome back to the lake event that will be really cool. It’ll be like a casual happy hour with Jeff where everyone can grab a bite. We’re coming up with different concepts, like food kits that families can take home. We want to help homeowners entertain, whether it’s a big breakfast casserole for 25 or a steak and potatoes night. We’re also working on some more intimate dinners. I’m really excited for Jeff to get to know our Long Cove families.