Joy Zhang sits down for brunch with Tim Byres, co-owner and Chef of Dallas’ acclaimed restaurant, SMOKE.
By Joy Zhang
There are many qualities that define a good chef: a well organized kitchen, an inviting dining space, and certainly delicious food that’ll keep you coming back for more. But what makes a great chef? At Smoke, Chef and co-owner Tim Byres is finding the roots of great food again. He pushes the limit when it comes to finding resources and suppliers for ingredients and goes even further with going back to basic good ‘ole fashion cooking techniques. This week for Sunday Brunch, Chef Byres will be sharing his infamous Blueberry Pancakes served with Vanilla Poached Apricots and Fresh Cream.
Byres first discovered his love for cooking through family get togethers, he often helped his mother prepare for backyard parties, relishing in the energy and hospitality that came along with entertaining. “There’s this service, fun, unpretentious kind of happiness that happens at these parties that I hope to share with people.”
During high school Byres started working as a busboy at restaurants and soon after decided to attend Johnson and Wales in Miami. Upon graduating, he worked under Jonathan Eismann from The Pacific Times at the age of 18 and from there he went on to work at several other prestigious restaurants including Stephan Pyles and The Mansion in Dallas.
Dallas is lucky to have a gem like Smoke. Chef Byres really wants to bring diners back to the basics again with good old-fashioned recipes like breads made from scratch, house-cured and smoked meats and pickled vegetables, along with sweet and savory jams. It’s this beautiful earthy simplicity geared towards renewing the reminiscence of how cooking use to be: simple, natural, and family-styled.
“They call it heritage inspired food but you know it’s more like old fashioned American cooking, like with wood fire cooking. We have all these lost recipes that really aren’t done anymore because now you just buy bread from the stores, pickles in jars…I want to bring it all back.”
What a magical wonder he’s created. The most beautiful part of it all is how Byres strives to make diners feel right at home with a simple dose of Southern hospitality where the forks and knives may not match, but rest assured you’ll always leave Smoke with a happy stomach and a full heart.
“I’m trying to demystify any real funky ole recipe that no one knows about and then bring them out in a fun way. Also there’s just a certain nostalgia level to everything – when this place [Smoke] gets busy people will start talking to other tables around them. I’ll even have long tables full of friends and family that share a family-styled meal together. So if you’re in this real fancy fuddy duddy formal arena, you don’t get any of that. I guess breaking some of those rules down and bringing it back to what it was, you know the beginning.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Chef Byres was selected as The People’s Best New Chef by Food and Wine magazine this year. He is after all a great chef: he respects the history of American cooking; he strives to find only the very best local ingredients through developing close relationships with farmers and purveyors; he goes to great lengths in ensuring that every diner has a fun, memorable and comforting experience. It’s chefs like Byres that makes food feel alive again, nourishing our minds, bodies and souls.
Visit Smoke for brunch served every weekend from 8am-3pm.
I found this recipe through Epicurious feel free to add fresh whipped cream as Chef Byres has with his. I’ve also included a recipe for vanilla-poached apricots.
Recipe for Blueberry Pancakes adapted from Epicurious
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional melted butter
- 2 1/2-pint baskets blueberries
- Maple syrup
Whisk cake flour, all purpose flour, and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk milk and eggs in medium bowl. Gradually whisk milk mixture into dry ingredients. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter.
Heat griddle or 2 heavy large nonstick skillets over medium heat. Brush lightly with additional melted butter. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto griddle. Sprinkle each pancake with 1 heaping tablespoon blueberries. Cook until bottoms brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn pancakes over and cook until second sides brown, about 1 minute. Divide pancakes among plates. Serve with syrup.
Recipe for Honey Vanilla Poached Apricots from Epicurious
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
- 3/4 pound fresh apricots, halved lengthwise and pitted
In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan simmer water, honey, sugar, and vanilla bean, covered, 5 minutes. Add apricots and simmer, covered, until just tender but not falling apart, 2 to 5 minutes, depending on ripeness of fruit.
Transfer apricots with a slotted spoon to a bowl and boil syrup until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Pour syrup over apricots and chill 25 minutes.