When most chefs pair up for a special dinner they split the bill: one chef takes appetizers, the other does a salad, and so on—a game of friendly one up-manship. But Smallwares’ Johanna Ware and Xico’s Kelly Meyers ditched that separate but equal convention last night at the two chefs’ deliciously unique Mexican/Asian “Xico-Wares” mash up dinner at Meyer’s SE Division Street restaurant last night: mole verde mingled with Thai basil, silky egg custard hooked up with spicy chorizo, and peach kimchi and peanut sauce took their rightful place atop carne asada tacos. “There’s a lot of crossover flavors in those cuisines: herbs, acidity, nuttiness, and spiciness, so it’s fun,” says Ware, who originally worked with Meyer at Nostrana. Instead of muddying each chef’s distinct vision, the patchwork of Asian and south-of-the-border flavors enhanced and enlivened dishes. Watching the pair work elbow to elbow in the kitchen plating their wild array of fusion ideas was inspiring and tasty enough that diners lobbied both chefs for a brick and mortar home for Xico-Wares. At the very least, Ware is up for doing a second Xico-Wares dinner in the future, perhaps at Smallwares. “It also makes me want to do more collaborations,” says Ware. “What about Country Cat? Asian-Southern barbecue! Just mash it up!”
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