Just off Main Street and 6th Street sits a quaint two-story house that’s home to one of the best restaurants in Frisco. Led by owner and chef Rich Vana and his team of culinary visionaries, The Heritage Table first opened its doors in 2017 and has since evolved to offer a true farm-to-table experience. I had the pleasure of speaking with Chef Rich and learning his origin story and what makes The Heritage Table so unique.

Rich Vana and Heritage Table

Tell me about your culinary journey – when did you know you wanted to be a chef, and how did you make it happen?

I was a sportswriter who started writing about restaurants, chefs, and their philosophies. In the process, I started working in their kitchens to write from a layman's point of view. That’s when I realized I wanted to do this for a living. So, I got a trailer smoker and started a catering company. Our second gig was for a Dallas Stars Halloween Party at Pete's Piano Bar, and it went really well.

You opened The Heritage Table in 2017. Why did you decide to open your restaurant in a 100-year-old Frisco home?

Our name alone implies a lot, so we couldn’t have a restaurant called The Heritage Table and settle into a newly built strip mall. I wanted the perfect venue for the experience we wanted to create through our menu and our service. And this location reflected our philosophy of mixing traditional culinary techniques and innovative presentation.

Tell me about the evolution of The Heritage Table – where it started, where it is, and where it will be in five years.

When we opened in 2017, I had a general notion that I wanted a farm-to-table restaurant. We could do that to an extent because there were some local farms we could source from. But I was a little reluctant to fully commit because getting quality proteins and produce from those farms is expensive.

COVID was the turning point for us. It slowed things down and gave me time to think. When we reopened, I decided to go all in and deliver the experience that we want our guests to have.

We went from giving a lot of lip service about farm-to-table and going halfway to dedicating the restaurant to sourcing high-quality stuff from local producers every day.

- Chef Rich

Today, our food is defined more by our philosophy of using the best techniques instead of following any geographical region. That’s because when we source proteins, we source the whole animal and break it down here in the restaurant. So, 75 chickens mean 150 breasts for Chicken Piccata. That also gives us a lot of dark meat to create something compelling, like a really rich fortified broth for our ramen-inspired The Whole Beast and the sausage and klobása meatballs for our Chicken & Lokše.

I don’t really have a vision for our future. Trends change. People’s tastes change. But my objective will always be to provide an experience that leaves you wanting to come back as soon as possible.

What inspires your menu?

Our menu is constantly changing just a little bit because of our farms and what they provide. We might have one farmer bring in extra green tomatoes while another brings in a whole lamb. We always work with what we have. And that’s where my staff comes in. Our kitchen is full of very talented cooks with different ideas. As a chef, I’d be remiss if I didn’t consider their input.

But the ultimate inspiration is watching as the plate hits the table and the guests’ eyes widen as they OOOH…  That’s what we want to replicate and improve on. As a chef, if you’re not inspired by your guests’ reactions to your dish, you should probably reconsider what you’re doing.

Why are locally sourced ingredients so important to your menu?

As a lifetime gardener, I've always loved picking a tomato off the vine and just eating it like an apple. It’s absolutely amazing. 

I’m fascinated by farmers and what they bring to our kitchen. The quality of our produce and proteins – it’s like they’re entirely different ingredients from what you get from a commodity or mass-market farm.

- Chef Rich

Also, we believe that the closer we are to our meat, the more we can appreciate it. In our culture, we’re often disconnected from the idea that what we’re eating was once a living, breathing thing. We should appreciate and respect it, so we use everything we can to make the best things we possibly can with it and bring as much joy with it as we can.

We really appreciate the efforts that go into responsible, sustainable farming. One week our birds may be a little bit smaller because it was so cold. Or we could be short on eggs because of the weather or a coyote. There are a lot of variables that go into it. That’s why it's so important to do more than just say we support local farms. We need to support it with everything we’ve got. So, we are constantly looking for more and more farms to support and to buy from.

What’s the most popular entrée on your menu?

The Chicken Piccata, and it's not close. It’s been on our menu from the very beginning. So many guests come back again and again just for that. Some guests have told me they want to try something different, but they just can’t when it comes time to order.  

Heritage Table menu item

What’s one entrée that more people should try?

I think people should order what their heart guides them to order. But the Chicken & Lokše is probably the best representation of our philosophy of using every part of our proteins. We make two different kinds of sausage with the chicken’s dark meat and match it up with grilled potato flatbread, rustic red pepper lescó sauce, whipped goat cheese, and ricotta. It’s a really cool engaging dish where you can get a lot of different bites through an exceptional kind of mix and match.

When guests tell their neighbors about their dining experience at The Heritage Table, what do you hope they’ll say?

There are eight adjectives we want guests to use when describing their experience with us: fun, engaging, comfortable, warm, indulgent, immersive, exceptional, and enjoyable. If we can hit all eight of those, we’ve done what we want to do. When I think about what that looks like, I see two to four people sitting at a table with a half bottle of wine next to them, leaning in, laughing, and enjoying their time with us. Ultimately, it’s about creating a warm, joyful experience.

Plan Your Visit to The Heritage Table

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