by Andrea Doyle | September 19, 2017



 A fifth-generation Texan, Stephan Pyles is one of the originators of modern southwestern cuisine. He has authored four cookbooks and hosted two seasons of the Emmy-winning PBS series New Tastes from Texas. After selling his restaurants in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Austin, Pyles took a five-year sabbatical that let him study, write, and teach in Latin America, the Eastern Mediterranean, Spain, and India, learnings from which he incorporated into his menus. Pyles was the first person in the Southwest to win a James Beard award for Best Chef and the first Texan inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. He has been named Chef of the Year by The Dallas Morning News and Esquire.
What is the most elaborate food and beverage function you ever planned for a group?
 Last fall, I planned and executed a dinner for 140 people at a ranch where we built seven fires and roasted three pigs, two whole lambs, three cuts of beef, whole salmons, two goats, and 40 pheasants. The menu was supplemented with a ceviche station, local farm vegetables, and elaborate desserts. There was one long table that seated the 140 guests. We supplied florals, lighting, music, and, of course, staffing.   

What high-end trends are you seeing?    
 I see a return to more formal, fine dining. At my most current restaurant, Flora Street Cafe [in Dallas], we execute exacting service standards in a setting with silver-plated flatware and fine china.

 What strategies are there for groups without big budgets?

 Tacos are very popular still and can act as a conduit for creative fare. At Stampede 66, some of our most popular tacos are fried-oyster tacos with jicama cole slaw and crispy sweetbread tacos with foie gras jam. Craft cocktails are a hot item currently and are generally no more expensive than standard call liquor cocktails.          

What are some of the most popular ingredients right now?
 In my neck of the woods, those ingredients are ones from Mexico and further south -- some more adventurous than others that include huitlacoche, epazote, hoja santa, rattlesnake and chapulines (grasshoppers).       

 What do you see as the next big thing?

 Mexican cuisine and ingredients will become more mainstream.

 What trends are cooling down?

 The term "farm-to-table" has been overused and used for improper promotional purposes. As chefs, using local produce at the peak of its season should be the standard, not the exception.