Some chefs talk about learning to cook at grandma’s knee. And then there’s Austin chef Bryce Gilmore, who learned his way around a kitchen by chopping onions after school at Z’Tejas, a restaurant that his dad, chef Jack Gilmore, just happened to be in charge of.
The younger Gilmore has been in love with food and cooking for a very long time. It shows in his restaurants, Barley Swine and Odd Duck, both in Austin, and is recognized in his 2015 nominations for James Beard Awards for Rising Star Chef and Best Chef/ Southwest. GQ magazine’s critic Alan Richman named Barley Swine, which (no surprise) features a raft of pork dishes, one of the 10 best new restaurants in America in 2012. And now Gilmore is opening a second Barley Swine in north Austin.
After graduating from the California Culinary Academy, Gilmore worked his way around, from Austin’s Wink to San Francisco’s Boulevard to Aspen’s Montagna. And in 2009, he went out on a limb, buying a 1980 Fleetwood Mallard trailer, renovating it stem to stern, installing a wood-burning grill, and turning it into a food truck, which he dubbed Odd Duck Farm to Trailer. Taking a page from his father’s playbook, Bryce Gilmore relied on local purveyors for his ingredients and offered up innovative small plates as he set up shop in south Austin. Soon Gilmore opened the brick-and-mortar Barley Swine, where the menu changes daily but is always a 12 to 13 course tasting menu, featuring something of pork (say, pork-belly pie with a peach and bourbon glaze), and Gulf seafood (like Scott’s Gulf fish with hoja santa and corn), and desserts like a mesquite bean churro with frozen chocolate, mescal, and mint.
But you can’t count on getting any of those dishes if you pop by the restaurant for a meal. They never serve the same dish twice. Says Gilmore, “The whole mantra at Barley Swine is to continue to evolve.” Gilmore’s second restaurant, Odd Duck, opened in December 2014.