Chef Swaps

Fort Worth restaurant Clay Pigeon appoints new chef to top spot

Fort Worth restaurant Clay Pigeon appoints new chef to top spot

Clay Pigeon chef Bria Downey
Chef Bria Downey. Courtesy photo

One of Fort Worth's most prominent restaurants has swapped out chefs: Clay Pigeon, the rustic, farm-to-table restaurant owned by local chef Marcus Paslay, has a new executive chef in Bria Downey.

Formerly a sous chef at Paslay's year-old Italian restaurant Piattello Italian Kitchen, Downey has taken the spot recently vacated by Andrew Dilda.

Dilda, who was once executive chef at Reata and chef de cuisine at Tim Love's Woodshed Smokehouse, and who was also chef at Barter in Dallas, held the position for about two months. According to Paslay, it "didn't work out."

"Bria is great," Paslay says. "She's been with the company for over a year now, so I know what I'm getting with her. This is very exciting for me and Clay Pigeon. I can't wait to see the positive impacts."

Downey was a part of the original "dream team" of chefs who opened Piattello, located in Fort Worth's Waterside district, a little more than a year ago. She joined executive chef Scott Lewis, a Fort Worth native who worked in a string of Dallas restaurants, including Nonna, Carbone's, and Sprezza, and who was nominated as a rising star chef in Dallas-Fort Worth's 2017 Tastemaker awards; and Jen Williams, who worked at Lucia in Dallas, and at Magnolia Cheese Company and Sera Dining & Wine in Fort Worth.

Lewis is still Piattello's executive chef.

Williams left the restaurant last year and now runs her own catering company and hosts food events at the Collective Brewing Project.

Downey has worked in several restaurants in both Dallas and Fort Worth, including Bird Café — which she helped open — Winslow's Wine Cafe, and Meddlesome Moth.

An Arlington native, Paslay opened Clay Pigeon five years ago in the charmingly rustic spot that once housed chef Lou Lambert's popular steakhouse Lambert's Steak, Seafood & Whiskey, and, before that, Pedro's Trailer Park, an early venture from Paul Willis, founder of Fuzzy's Tacos. Paslay stresses a from-scratch approach, even making the bread and ice cream in house.