This weekend, a group of acclaimed food and beverage personalities will flock to Austin for the third annual Austin Food & Wine Festival, including James Beard Foundation Award finalist Bryce Gilmore of the Odd Duck and Barley Swine in Austin. Below, Gilmore jumps into who should win this year’s James Beard Best Chef Southwest award, Odd Duck’s negative GQ mention, and working with his chef-father (one day).
Layne Lynch: The Austin culinary scene is continuing to draw a lot of national attention. What do you think is going on in Austin that’s inspiring such creativity?
Bryce Gilmore: I think there’s a lot of young and innovative talent here. Austin is really community-based, and it breeds this ‘we’re all in this together’ mentality, which is great. The culinary scene doesn’t have the vast range of cuisines like New York or Chicago, but it’s happening: chefs and restaurateurs are seeing that the people of Austin are interested in more.
LL: You were recently nominated for a James Beard Foundation award. I’m going to ask you a huge hypothetical. If you don’t win for Best Chef Southwest, who should?
BG: That’s an impossible question to answer. It’s such an honor to be nominated as one of five in the whole region. That’s an insane statistic if you think about it. Of course I’d love for this year to be me, but you never know.
LL: Are there any Austin chefs or Austin restaurants that inspire you?
BG: My dad, Jack Gilmore, is always an inspiration. He introduced me to this world and continues to inspire me. The sheer volume he does at both restaurants and his unwavering commitment to local farmers should be inspiring for all chefs.
LL: I was surprised Alan Richman found fault with one of Odd Duck’s dishes. Do you let opinions of that caliber change the way you execute your dishes?
BG: I definitely listen to people’s opinions, but the caliber of the opinion bears no weight as to my decision to change or not change a dish.
LL: Tell me a bit about what you’ll be doing at the Austin Food and Wine Festival.
BG: I’ll be participating in the Rock Your Taco event, which I’ve done before and it’s always a really fun event. On Sunday, I’ll be doing the Fire Pits with my dad again this year. We are still working out what we’ll serve for both events, so I’ll keep that a surprise.
LL: I’ve asked you in the past about doing a project with your dad one day and you’ve always said “never say never.” Is that still something you think about?
BG: Absolutely, I’d love to do something with my dad. We’re both very busy at the moment with our own ventures. Something like that is all about good timing for both of us.
LL: You’re now juggling two restaurants. How have you seen yourself evolve as a chef over the past few years?
BG: Well, I went from a trailer-sized staff to managing two restaurants, which has been a huge evolution. It’s hard for me to objectively say how I’ve evolved as a chef because my philosophy for cooking is the same. Perhaps I’ve evolved in that I can support more farmers now than ever before.