Jim White, the passionate co-founder of two Dallas food events, has died at age 73.
White battled a sudden onset of lung cancer, says his wife Vicki Briley-White. They learned he was sick on April 20, 2022 and he was in the hospital within 10 days.
“More than anything, he was the kindest, gentlest, most compassionate person I’ve ever met,” Briley-White says. “Being married to Jim was truly easy. It was a blessing every day.”
White created Savor Dallas, the food and wine festival that started in 2004 and ran yearly since 2005. It was purchased by The Dallas Morning News in 2014 and operated until 2018.
In 1997, White co-founded KRLD Restaurant Week, a still-thriving annual event known today as DFW Restaurant Week. It raises money for two local charities: the North Texas Food Bank and Lena Pope Home.
Before White got involved in festivals, he was a radio veteran, working as a morning news anchor on KRLD-AM (1080) and producing “The Restaurant Show with Jim White.” He previously worked at KEGL-FM, The News reported in 1995.
White and Briley-White traveled the world, taping “The Restaurant Show.”
“We’ve done it from Champagne [France], from Bordeaux,” Briley-White says. “We’ve done it from Buffalo Gap [Texas].” They even met and interviewed Julia Child.
White also started the celebrity chef kitchen at the State Fair of Texas in 1999.
His effort to put chefs and winemakers center stage was sealed when he co-created Savor Dallas.
“Every year, legions of foodies and wine lovers trek to places such as Aspen, New Orleans and Banff Springs, Alberta, for big-name, food-and-wine weekends,” The News’ special contributor Kim Pierce wrote in 2004. Briley-White noted that “half of the people there are from Dallas, Texas” — so the couple created a several-day soiree that celebrated the chefs, winemakers and foodies right here in our home town.
After all, White had already created a listener base of foodies on the radio and a captive audience at the State Fair.
Today, Dallas boasts a dozen or more food festivals with the same initiative — a fervor that White spotted first.
In its earliest days, Savor Dallas also featured female wine makers during seminars specifically for women. “Women want to know about wine,” Briley-White said in 2004.
Over the years, the Whites worked with Dallas’ top chefs, including Kent Rathbun, Misti Norris, Stephan Pyles, Paula Lambert, Dean Fearing, David Uygur, Tre Wilcox and Tim Byres. The Whites secured food and wine tastings inside the city’s most iconic buildings, including the Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Latino Cultural Center, the African American Museum, Centennial Hall and the Dallas Museum of Art.
CultureMap aptly calls White “Dallas’ original foodie.”
Jim Moroney, who knew White in his role as former chairman, president and chief executive of The Dallas Morning News, says White’s love for food and wine was contagious.
“The moment you met Jim, you knew you were in the presence of energy and passion — energy about the event he was running and passion for food and wine,” says Moroney, who is The News’ publisher emeritus. “You couldn’t help get caught up in the moment and the fun. He exuded joie de vivre in all that he did.”
White was nominated for a James Beard award in 1999 for his radio show. He was honored with an Associated Press Broadcasters award in 1997 and was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2010.
His memorial is at 1:30 p.m. June 17, 2022 at Wilshire Baptist Church, 4316 Abrams Road in Dallas.
White is survived by his wife Vicki Briley-White; his daughter Angela Peacock and her husband Ricky Peacock; his grandson Trenton Ayers and his wife Erin Ayers; his grandson Preston Peacock; his great-granddaughter Taryn Ayers; his brother David Beck and his wife Patty Beck; and numerous nieces and nephews.