The people have clicked, and Smoke's Tim Byres is the winner of the Southwestern division of Food & Wine's People's Best New Chef contest.
But Byres didn't rack up enough online votes to claim the People's Best New Chef crown, which belongs to Jamie Bissonnette of Boston's Coppa, a new offal-centric enoteca. Food & Wine was charmed by his experimental cooking and porcine tattoos, but Bissonnette today revealed in an interview with Grub Street's Boston blog that he initially worried his unorthodox cuisine wouldn't be a good fit for Beantown.
"I realized...if I made it approachable, more people might try it," Bissonnette said. "People might not eat a $25 plate of pigs' tails, but for $9, I'll make it accessible financially and make sure it tastes delicious."
Of all the runners-up, Byres may possess the cooking style most simpatico with Bissonnette's approach. Like Bissonnette, Byres is an innovator with a special fondness for charcuterie. Or, as Food & Wine put it in its nominating blurb: "he goes beyond just barbecue."
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Other regional winners (on what turned out to be an all-male list) include Jose Salazar, Kyle Bailey and Lee Richardson. The complete list's here.