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Tiffany Derry talks about leaving Private Social

Posted 3:46pm on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013

We were still adjusting to the news that Tre Wilcox was leaving Village Marquee Texas Grill & Bar when the news flashed across our Twitter feed: Tiffany Derry – another of our other favorite Dallas Top Chef alums – is saying farewell to her Private Social. Her last day with the Uptown restaurant will be Jan. 28.

The news came from an interview with Dallas Mornings News’ Leslie Brenner, who reported that Derry was moving on to pursue a “national scale TV thing,” and “developmental things” for restaurants.

We caught up with Derry on Tuesday, and although she declined to go into more detail about the new projects, she did talk about tough decisions, the curious timing of Wilcox’s departure, and addressed the criticism that Top Chef grads face when they exit for greener pastures.

How soon might we see you on TV?

It should be within this year. There are multiple projects, so hopefully within next three months, something will be able to be announced.

What can you tell us about your decision to leave Private Social?

I’m not necessarily saying that I don’t want to be in a restaurant; I have to figure out what the right balance is. Because I absolutely love being in a restaurant. That’s a part of me forever. I can’t just go out and say: “Oh, I’m gonna be a personal caterer for life.” I want the restaurant. But Private Social takes a lot. And for about eight months, I really started turning down a lot of different things on a national scale. And at the end of day, I have to pursue my goals in life. It’s a big restaurant to run, and I can’t run it and be away. I’ve been thinking about it, and it was hard. Because I’ve been able to build it from the ground, and figure out what tables we were going to use and what the uniforms were going to be. It was a difficult decision. But I figured … life, I’m young, I just turned 30 a week ago, and I don’t want to be one of those people who regretted not trying something.

You and Tre [castmates on Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars in 2010] both announced your departures around the same time. Is there something Top Cheffy going on behind the scenes?

Completely coincidence [laughs]. When I read it [about Tre], I was like: “Dang, I didn’t even realize that!” So who knows, maybe there will be something we could unite forces on. That would be fun.

Speaking of you and Tre leaving, there was also [fellow All-Stars castmate and one-time DFW chef] Casey Thompson, who left Fort Worth’s Brownstone for the Bay Area. There are some critics out there who are saying: these young chefs are in it to be famous, and be on TV; they get their high-profile restaurant and the good publicity, then the second they get a better offer, they’re out of DFW, they leave their restaurants in the lurch …

To be honest, I can only speak for myself: I’ve always loved being in a restaurant. I think since [Top Chefs] are in the spotlight a bit more, you’re noticing what we’re doing. I’ve been with Private Social now for two years … and I’ve put my heart, sweat and tears into it. There are chefs that leave posts way more often – but they’re not the ones people talk about. So you have to make the right decision for you. Whether I was on Top Chef or I wasn’t, if I felt like there was a good opportunity and it made sense – because I don’t like the idea of jumping around – I had to take it.

You’ve talked to me before about balance -- being a wife, mom, chef, having a restaurant and a whole brand to juggle. What’s your secret?

Gosh girl, I’m still trying to figure it out. After I told my husband I was going to put in my resignation, he was like: “You know what, honey? I’m happy. We’ll actually have Valentine’s together. It’ll be our first Valentine’s that I actually get to have with you instead of me sitting at the bar and you’re cooking.”

So you may have to travel for work, but Dallas will be your home base?

Yes. Me and Casey, we’re not the same; I like Dallas. Some people want to get away. I can’t imagine myself living in New York. If I had to work there for a period of time, yes. My husband is from here, my son is in school here, we’re rooted here. You work wherever you work, but home is home.

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