Outstanding in Their Field

Like father, like son: Two very different restaurants reflect a lot of the same values

Running his own innovative food trailer operation makes young chef Bryce Gilmore a hard man to catch up with, but we did manage to squeeze in a phone interview while he was prepping for Tuesday evening service. You'll want to try the food he's doing at Odd Duck now, so that when he becomes famous, you can say you knew him when he was just working out of a trailer. This young man is going places.

Austin Chronicle: How did you choose a cooking career?

Bryce Gilmore: I grew up around the restaurant business in Austin because of my dad and started busing tables at Z'Tejas when I was still in high school. After graduation, I worked on a team that opened up new Z locations for about a year, going in and training staff, getting them started. It was the first time I'd worked in restaurant kitchens with Dad – I was hooked. Then I went to culinary school at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.

AC: What are some of the places you've worked?

BG: After culinary school, I worked at Boule­vard in San Francisco – the availability of local ingredients in the Bay Area is amazing. If I wasn't from Austin, I probably would have stayed there – it's a great restaurant. I was sous chef at Cafe 909 in Marble Falls for a couple years and then around here, I spent some time in the kitchen at Wink and the Moonshine.

AC: What prompted you to try the trailer?

BG: I wanted to try my own thing, and a trailer was the cheapest way to get started. I bought it off eBay from Wisconsin from some folks who used it for event concessions. I spent a few months fixing it up after I brought it back – painting, adding the grill, things like that. I was in such a hurry to get the business open, I didn't put in an AC unit back then. That's going to be my next project – that and adding some fans or shade for my customers before it gets any hotter.

AC: Who are some chefs who have influenced you?

BG: Well, my dad, of course. The most important thing he taught me was his work ethic; you can't succeed in this business if you're not willing to work hard. Nancy Oakes at Boulevard – she uses great ingredients, has a good crew, a good work atmosphere. And Mark Schmidt from Cafe 909 – he knows so much about so many different cuisines. He made me his right hand and taught me so much. He also let me do some of my own things in that kitchen.

AC: What's a typical Saturday like for you?

BG: I shop at all three farmers' markets in the morning – Downtown, Sunset Valley, and Bar­ton Creek – buying directly from the farmers. What I find dictates what's on the menu. I usually go through about a half a pig a week from Richardson Farms, and I get rabbits and ducks from Countryside. Cheeses I'll get from Brazos Valley or Pure Luck. I bring it all back to the trailer and start prepping, and then we serve until we run out of food.

AC: What about during the rest of the week?

BG: I try to get to Boggy Creek every Wed­nes­day, and there are some folks who'll deliver. ... Vital Farms brings eggs, and Farm to Table delivers produce during the week.

AC: What are some of your favorite things to cook?

BG: Well, pork, obviously, if you look at my menu. I love eggs, too. And I'm really looking forward to all the things I'll be able to do with corn and tomatoes this summer.

AC: If you could travel anywhere to eat and learn about cuisine, where would it be?

BG: Southeast Asia, definitely! Thailand, Viet­nam, Korea, Japan, China – I've heard so much about how fresh the street food is and about all the great markets – I'd love to taste all of it.

AC: What are some of the things you and your dad like to do together?

BG: We're both big UT fans, and we love to tailgate.

AC: What's your long-term goal? What would you like to be doing in 10 years?

BG: I'd like to have my own farm with a restaurant on it.

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