Though John Tesar has been chef-partner of fine dining restaurant Oak for more than a year, both he and co-owner Richard Ellman say they were searching for a chef to handle the day to day operation of its kitchen.

Though John Tesar has been chef-partner of fine dining restaurant Oak for more than a year, both he and co-owner Richard Ellman say they were searching for a chef to handle the day to day operation of its kitchen.

Allison Slomowitz/ Special Contributor

In early 2015, chef John Tesar became the chef-partner at the upscale Design District restaurant Oak. It was a move no one saw coming, given Tesar's existing chef role at Dallas restaurant Knife.

Chef John Tesar says he's 'downsizing' his schedule to make room for new projects.

Chef John Tesar says he's 'downsizing' his schedule to make room for new projects.

Allison Slomowitz/ Special Contributor

The ties have been severed between Tesar, Oak and its affiliated restaurants. And, though Tesar has never had trouble telling it like he sees it, he was pretty complimentary of the time he spent with Apheleia Restaurant Group, which operates Oak as well as Pakpao Thai Food, El Bolero, Quill lounge and the Royale Magnificent Burgers.

Realistically, Tesar was more of an advisor than a work-on-the-line chef at Apheleia's many restaurants. It would have been impossible for him to oversee his existing restaurant, Knife (which is unaffiliated with the Apheleia Restaurant Group) and to also bounce from Oak to a handful of other places in a single day.

Ready for a throwback? Here's Joel Harrington, left, in 2007, watching chef Dean Fearing plate at Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas.

Ready for a throwback? Here's Joel Harrington, left, in 2007, watching chef Dean Fearing plate at Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas.

Evans Caglage

Tesar says his new plan is to continue cheffing at Knife, focus on a book expected out in 2017, and spend time on "other projects" he said he couldn't talk about.

"I don’t want to dilute John Tesar," he says. And after more than a year of being chef-partner at several restaurants, he says he realized, "I don’t want to be this guy: I don’t want to be a corporate chef."

Joel Harrington, former chef de cuisine at Oak, is now the executive chef at Oak and its neighboring lounge Quill, both in the Design District. Tesar and Apheleia co-owner Richard Ellman separately said Harrington is "the guy" for the job. Harrington previously worked at Bolsa and Fearing's.

So what does this mean to you, hungry readers?

Harrington would like to change up the steak offerings at Oak and add sushi to the menu at Quill.

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