Name: Chef Tim Banks
Profession: Certified Executive Chef, Culinary School Program Director, Owner & Co-Creator of Bark Brothers Culinary Services
Soul Food is typically associated with the African American experience but, in recent years, that has proven not to be the case. Modern-day chefs have a love of diverse cuisine, cultures and trends and it’s reflected in every dish. Chef Tim Banks can attest to this. Influenced at an early age by the Galloping Gourmet, the 49-year-old’s eyes and heart were opened to a world where being a chef of color was boundless and limitless. As a Certified Executive Chef, Culinary School Program Director and Owner & Co-Founder of Bark Brothers Culinary Services, Banks’ unique blend of Mediterrabed and Classic Southwest cooking have evolved into a style he aptly calls “Neo-American Comfort Food.” His career spans more than 20-plus years, including stints at Bristol Hotel Management, HEB Grocery Retail Company, teaching at The Art Institute of Houston and San Jacinto’s Culinary and Pastry Chef Program, as well a managing a successful catering and pop-up brunch series (with a purpose) called Bark Brothers.
Armed with a Certified Executive Chef Honor from the American Culinary Federation and a Culinary Arts degree from Houston Comunity College, the foodpreneur shares his inspirations, the importance of African American chefs, rules of brunching and a recipe for his famous shrimp and grits. After all, he reminds everyone, “Feed Yourself Well.”
Here’s what we learned:
On culinary inspiration:
My inspirations are watching others respond to food. The entertainment of sharing food and feeding yourself well.
On why African American chefs, especially men, matter to the culinary world:
African American chefs, who are men, are woven into to the fabric of our culinary history. It’s important that we pay tribute to those who came before us and were on seen as servants: Rufus Estes, Hercules, and many other unsung black male chefs who have managed some of the largest kitchens in our country. These men have feed our politicians, our social elite, our military and the everyday man.
Hear me and hear me loud: we are all not soul food chefs. We are craftsmen that can create and influence a multitude of flavorful cuisines. As caterer and restauranteurs we should be forced into price negotiation by our own community and driven to target other communities whom are willing to compensate talent.
On important achievements and creation of Bark Brothers:
Professionally my biggest achievement is leading our team to greatness each and everyday. My proudest moment with Bark Brothers is awarding scholarship to well deserving students. Chef George Clark and I attended a pop-up and we were incredibly disappointed in the event. So together we sat doing and decided to create a six-course, well thought out menu that highlighted our skills and enhanced the volunteer students who prepared and serve our menu.
On lessons or advice learned on my culinary journey:
As a chef leader you must be willing to do every — and I mean every — job in the kitchen. The kitchen is a place of extreme hard, yet, mirrored with extreme praise and accolades. No job is too big or small for the chef.
On crafting the perfect brunch:
Turning a routine meal like brunch into a full sensory eating experience. Good music, real mimosas and a trendy crowd are all bonuses.
On being a leader, breaking through the static and making an impact amongst your peers:
By being the first to try something new and different. Being a resource to your peers. There are no secrets in a real kitchen. As in all things, you must have a passion and a willingness to stay the course. Our road to success is paved with knives, fire, bad attitudes and cut-throat competition. It doesn’t have to be that way, and you can be the difference.
On representation in the culinary industry:
Because we are here! Hard working, career motivated and driven men who do this with pride. The shame and stigma of chefs as servants is antiquated. When you see culinary talent, don’t discourage it. Find a way to be positive and supportive of other people’s dreams; they could be serving your next meal. Always feed yourself well.
On being a BE Modern Man:
It means the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. If you can dream it, you can be it with education, class and attitude. This bring value and awareness to honest work. We all have to eat. The career path is real. A chef could be president.
Shrimp and Grits
5 3/4 cups Chicken Stock or Shrimp Stock
1 pound 16/20 Shrimp
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 cup grits, preferably stoneground (see note above)
1 cup grated Smoked Gouda Cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ounces), diced
Vegetable oil (if needed)
1 medium shallot, minced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons minced Chives or Green Onions
Bring stock to boil and season with salt and old bay, cook grits in a two quart pot with a lid. Reduce heat to low and add cheese.
In a skillet fry bacon pieces until crispy and brown and season with black pepper.
Add shallot and garlic to bacon and sauté.
Then add paprika and shrimp. Cook until shrimp are done. Remove from heat and stir in butter and parsley.
Place grits in a bowl and top with shrimp and bacon mixture. Garnish with minced chives.
These grits are savory with a hints of smoke from the cheese, bacon and paprika. Serve with toasted French bread.
To learn more about Chef Tim Banks and his culinary musings, following him on Instagram @barkbrothers @morphologist_culinaire and icheftim on periscope.com
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.