Our Story
two business men smiling

Two northerners walk onto a basketball court in Texas.

And the rest is Culinary Wise history.

In the early 90’s, Jonathan Calabrese (Executive Chef, Co-Owner) and Anthony Winkler (Co-Owner) found themselves in Texas for different reasons. Jon was returning to his Texas roots from Chicago, while Tony was seeking new business opportunities from Connecticut. 

Their competitive nature nearly led to a fight when the two first met on the basketball court but, after a night of drinking with mutual friends, the pair quickly became not only best friends, but business partners.

The Chef and The Entrepreneur

Fresh out of Culinary School, Jon had been successfully running a small catering operation in tandem with his first restaurant, Savory Bistro, in the Lakewood area of Dallas. Tony was dispassionately working in sales, with his entrepreneurial mind constantly scheming. 

In a true instance of kismet, Tony came across a vacant leasing office in Uptown Dallas. The two partners bought the building and after an exhaustive renovation, opened State&Allen Kitchen + Bar. This well-loved neighborhood staple paved the way for the two to develop and expand Jon’s catering businesses, Savory Catering, and to open the other restaurant concepts that make up the Culinary Wise Brand: The Nodding Donkey, Maple Landing and Social Pie.

A Step Back for a Step Forward

As 2020 brought instability to the restaurant industry, the pair found themselves slowing down and evaluating; successes and failures, strengths and opportunities. After years of forward momentum, they made a conscious decision to go back to basics. So Culinary Wise is exactly that: our foundation and our basics.

As a parent company, Culinary Wise adds stability to the current growth plan, focusing on strengths and building on them for the future.

Our Pillars


The quality of the vision, the people and the food matter.

Customer Experience

It’s not about us, it’s about you.

Social Responsibility

We take an active role in our communities.

Green Initiatives

We make proactive decisions that lessen our environmental impact.