The BRAVO Way: eBooks Now Available for Pre-Order!

(Originally available on exfleurlefleur.com. Image by Dawn Dugle.)

BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar at Highland Village in LeFleur East will celebrate 25 years of business in 2019.

The restaurant is the brainchild of two passionately driven, but very different, visionaries. Jeff Good:  a gregarious, larger-than-life networker who never met a stranger; and Dan Blumenthal: a focused and intense culinary creative who thrives on adrenaline and controlled chaos. It’s a yin and yang relationship that has been at the heart of the business for a quarter of a century.

The journey of both is chronicled in a new book, The BRAVO! Way: Building a Southern Restaurant Dynasty, by Dawn Dugle.

The book takes an inside look at the creation of the restaurant through the success of their company is today.

“It all started with a late-night phone call that would revolutionize the restaurant industry in Mississippi,” Dugle says. “Everything would change because Good was about to lose his job.”

This all-access pass behind the scenes to learn the “secret sauce” of making a successful business – through sacrifice, fear and faith – is the first book from author Dawn Dugle, an award-winning storyteller.

Dugle spent 23 years as a broadcast and digital journalist and has a long writing career as well, writing for USA Today, The Austin American-Statesman, The Clarion-Ledger and many others. She works as the Creative Director for TeleSouth Communications, parent company to SuperTalk Mississippi and as the CEO of Dugle Media.

Dan Blumenthal and Jeff Good are the co-owners of Mangia Bene Restaurant Group that includes BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar, Broad Street Baking Company and Sal & Mookie’s New York Pizza & Ice Cream Joint.

The physical book, published by Sartoris Literary Group, will be released November 1, 2018. It is now available for e-book pre-orders on Amazon.

Homecoming Chefs Dinner Recap

(Article originally appeared in The Mississippi Link.)

July 23, 2018 was a unique evening at BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar. As guests filled up the elegantly set dining room, the kitchen had been filled for hours with a sight rarely seen in any restaurant: six chefs, all of whom began their careers at BRAVO! They were industriously preparing for the evening ahead while laughing and trading stories from their days at BRAVO! The chefs are all now successful in their own restaurants and ventures, but the atmosphere wasn’t one you would expect from so many driven personalities.

There were no Cut Throat Kitchen vibes, but instead the banter of old friends catching up and people leaping in to help when needed. As delicious aromas began wafting out to hungry guests, the BRAVO! team spirit held true.

The man behind the evening? BRAVO! Chef and co-owner Dan Blumenthal. “BRAVO! does two or three big dinners a year. I’ve wanted to do a ‘chefs’ dinner before but had never had the courage to put it together. It’s a lot to coordinate,” said Blumenthal as he kicked off the evening welcoming the guests. “But when I was looking for inspiration for our next dinner, I got to thinking about our history and legacy and I wanted to kick off our twenty-fifth year of business in a big way, a BRAVO! way. I knew it was time. I set the date and sent the email… and here we are.”

Six chefs jumped on board for this six-course tour de force. Chef Jason Goodenough, of Carrollton Market, Chef Jay Parmegiani of 10 South Roof Top Bar & Grill and Roca Restaurant & Bar, Chef Louis Larose of Lou’s Full-Serv, Chef Matthew Kajdan of Estelle Wine Bar & Bistro, Chef Jeffrey Gardner of Hot Corner, and Pastry Chef Dani Mitchell-Turk of For Heaven’s Cakes & Catering all answered Dan’s call. Each chef was responsible for a course for the evening – and got to pick it based on how quickly they answered.

BRAVO!’s Homecoming Dinner was its most popular event ever, selling out in a day, and the buzzing dining room full of familiar faces reflected that energy. As BRAVO!’s service team expertly shepherded food and wine out to guests, the chefs took a minute to introduce themselves and their dishes and then mingle with the crowd. From one end of the dining room to the other, glasses and plates clinked, and laughter and murmured appreciation echoed.

At the end of the evening, all the chefs gathered to take a group photo, goofing around the entire time. As a fitting memorial, they finally settled on a semi-serious pose in the lounge in front of the Lynn Green Root mural as colorful as their personalities. Co-owner Jeff Good said, “It’s incredible to see how many successful chefs have gotten their start at BRAVO! over the years. It’s humbling to have six of them come home, joyfully, to share in all of this and to see how our legacy has passed on to another generation.”

Homecoming Chef Feature: Dani Mitchell-Turk

“You know, you wouldn’t hire me at BRAVO! the first two times I came and applied,” remembers Dani Mitchell-Turk as she reflects back to 1995 and the times she came into the restaurant, resume in hand, to ask for a wait staff position.  “I never understood why you didn’t snap me up right away, but I do remember you saying yes when I brought you a slice of my famous Ana Pavlova dessert!”

Thus began what would be a two-decade relationship between Jeff Good, Dan Blumenthal and Dani Mitchell-Turk.  Starting as a member of the wait staff in the early start-up years of BRAVO!, Dani moved on to lead the front service counter at Broad Street when it opened. She then moved to take over the bakery when it was located at the Cabot Lodge – Millsaps, a roll she excelled at until 2009 when she opened her own confectionery and catering business – For Heaven’s Cakes and Catering located on Ridgewood Road in North Jackson, just up the road from both of her former stomping grounds with us at BRAVO! and Broad Street.

“I really have never met anyone like Dani – she is the full package of talent,” states Jeff.  “She’s engaging, funny, smart, driven.  She has a great eye for detail, an incredible talent for baking, a worker’s strength for production, and an artisan’s drive for quality.  She is one of a kind, and we were lucky to have her share so much of her talents with us over the 14 years she was with us!”

Today, Dani is known throughout central Mississippi for her amazing wedding and special occasion cakes. A phone call to her shop may be met with an answering machine stating that they are booked for the month for special cakes, but her retail shop is open Wednesday – Friday for walk-in treats.  “Dani has the best cupcakes this side of the moon,” states Chef Dan.  “And she has this date bar… she makes them for me every holiday season for Hanukkah… I have to hoard them to keep my family out of them!”

Dani will be returning to BRAVO! for one night as a part of our Chef’s Homecoming dinner, and she will be anchoring the event with the dessert course.  “I cannot wait to come back and see all my old friends, not only in the kitchen, but out in the dining room!  It’s going to be a great night!” exclaimed Dani when asked about the evening.

Want to learn more about For Heaven’s Cakes and Catering?  Follow Dani on Instagram or Facebook .

Dani’s featured dish for our Homecoming Dinner:

white chocolate-passion fruit cheesecake / gingersnap crust / passion fruit glaze

To read more about our Homecoming Dinner and see the rest of the menu click here.

Homecoming Chef Feature: Matthew Kajdan

Chef Matthew Kajdan was born and raised in Madison, MS where his mother and grandmother showed him the way around the kitchen. Growing up in a large European family, he developed a taste for gourmet cooking and fine foods.

Chef Kajdan got his start at BRAVO!- where he worked under Dan Blumenthal and Louis Larose- and Nick’s under Nick Apostle. “Matt was a hard worker and a fastiduous young man,” Chef Blumenthal remembers.  “He was a part of a crew that really produced some beautiful food.  He and Louis were good friends and great collaborators!  It will be neat to see them side by side again in the BRAVO! kitchen!”

Jeff Good adds, “Matt is a man with a lot of work ethic.  When we had a need in the Broad Street kitchen, Matt willingly agreed to spend a season there helping make great food and keep that very large machine running.  We were thankful for his efforts, and were really happy for him when the Parlor Market opportunity presented itself… it was hand in glove for him!”

After the untimely passing of Parlor Market founder Craig Noone, Matthew was tapped as the Executive Chef at Parlor Market, where he brought forth a New-Southern menu with progressive ideas and local products in a farm-to-table atmosphere. Matthew received much praise and a handful of awards during his time at Parlor Market, and then the opportunity to be a part of something very special came knocking.  A new, upscale hotel was to be built in downtown Jackson and they wanted a chef to match the quality of the venue.  They needed to look no further than Matthew Kajdan.

Today, Matthew enjoys his role as Executive Chef at Estelle Wine Bar and Bistro at The Westin Jackson.  The dining room is sleek and modern and caters to special event diners and casual meals alike with fresh ingredients and impressive plating techniques forming the foundation of the menu offerings.  Matthew also oversees the hotel’s entire food and beverage offerings with banquet menus and room service alike.  Showing how life often brings us full circle, Chef Matt is often serving international visitors from Europe staying at the hotel, a nod back in time to his roots at the table with his large European family.

Matthew’s featured dish for our Homecoming Dinner:

grilled redfish / sautéed lobster / avocado / tomato jam / citrus vinaigrette

To read more about our Homecoming Dinner and see the rest of the menu click here.


Wine Spectator Award Of Excellence 2018

Thanks to our sommelier’s, Lesley McHardy’s,  excellent leadership and taste, BRAVO! has once again received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. We have received this prestigious award since 1997 for the longest held record of any restaurant or bar in Jackson. Thank you for being loyal fans of BRAVO!’s amazing wine list and come celebrate this achievement with us with, what else? A glass of wine!

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Gather. Relax. Savor.

We have proudly served delicious Italian food in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere in the heart of Jackson since 1994. And with 20+ years of Wine Spectator awards, our wines are just as good as our food.

Connect with BRAVO!

 Phone: (601) 982-8111

 Social Media:     

 Email: info@bravobuzz.com

4500 Interstate 55 Frontage Rd, Highland Village Suite 244, Jackson, MS 39211

© 1994 - 2018 Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group Inc. All Rights Reserved.

All Photos Courtesy of Tom Beck Photography. All Rights Reserved.