In Texas we don’t fear the warm—okay, stifling—summer weather. We embrace it. Yes, we crank up the air conditioning a few notches, but we also can’t wait to get outdoors—to the pool, to the beach, to the park, to the back yard. So what makes for a perfect picnic outing? Senior editor Patricia Sharpe asked chefs David Bull of Austin’s Driskill Grill, Timothy Byres of Dallas’s Standard 2706, and Randy Evans of Brennan’s of Houston to throw together some sizzling seasonal recipes for this month’s feature “Triumph of the Grill.” Read on to learn more about these kitchen hotshots.
David J. Bull
When Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg are your fans, you know you’ve found your flavor. Executive chef David Bull—winner of Food & Wine’s 2003 Best New Chef award—may be a rising culinary celebrity, but his love of the kitchen is nothing new. After early training at his grandfather’s Italian restaurant, Olivieri’s, in upstate New York, Bull sprouted from his role as salad-and-garlic-bread boy and studied at the Culinary Institute of America. He landed a job at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando and, at age nineteen, parlayed this experience into a position at Dallas’s Mansion at Turtle Creek. He worked under the mentorship of chef Dean Fearing and became the Mansion’s youngest executive sous chef. Bull entered Longhorn land in 1999 and became head honcho at Austin’s elegant Driskill Hotel. Blending influences from the Far East, New Orleans, and the American Southwest, he spices up familiar favorites to enhance the eating experience. Bull typically greets every table in the dining room. We’re surprised he’s not signing autographs, too.
Think Timothy Byres’s food is fit for a king? You’re absolutely right. This owner of Dallas’ Standard 2706 served as chef de cuisine at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, cooking for the future king of Belgium and overseeing the culinary needs of the U.S. government at diplomatic functions. His original training, however, didn’t have such royal roots. He got his first taste of kitchen culture from his mother, a pie-baking, preserve-bottling entrant at county fairs. But at age seventeen, this California native moved to Miami to pursue classical French training at Johnson and Wales University. After his stint in Belgium, Byres helped open Thom in New York and developed the menus of Tom Tom and Nikita in Dallas. This 28-year-old restaurant prince opened his own restaurant in July 2003 in the Deep Ellum district of Dallas. Infusing American tradition with European elegance, Byres ensures that, contrary to his restaurant’s name, his creations are anything but standard.
Randy Evans gave up biology for bananas foster, and, for that, Houston owes its compliments to the chef. Realizing his true love lay in the kitchen rather than the laboratory, Evans left Baylor University in 1995 to attend the Art Institute of Houston’s Culinary Arts Program. Brennan’s of Houston hired him as a pantry cook in 1996, and his cooking career kicked off. Then-executive chef Carl Walker encouraged Evans’s interest in charcuterie—“cooker of meat”—by allowing him to produce sausages, tasso ham, and other cured meats and forcemeats. After winning a Bertolli Sous Chef award in 2003, Evans was promoted to executive chef. This Houston-area native emphasizes the use of local farm products and seeks to modernize the traditional Texas-creole cuisine. Today he teaches the next generation of chefs the art of charcuterie and encourages them to pursue their interests. After all, Evans knows the power of passion.