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Stephan Pyles is a world-class chef, cookbook author, philanthropist, and educator. Pyles is also one of the founding fathers of Southwestern cuisine. His creative dishes blend elements of Southern homestyle cooking, sophisticated Southwestern fare, Mexican food and Tex-Mex food, as well as Cajun cuisine and Creole cookery. Pyles' ingenuity, along with the talents of colleagues, Dean Fearing, Robert Del Grande, and Anne Lindsay Greer contributed to revolutionary changes in the cuisine of the U.S. states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Pyles spent more than 25 years in the Dallas’ restaurant circuit, and was further the main creator of New Texas Cuisine. His first two restaurants were the business casual Routh Street Cafe which was founded in 1983 as well as a miniature version of said restaurant called Baby Routh. These restaurants are known for being the flagship of the Southwestern Cuisine explosion of the 1980s and 1990s. Since opening Routh Street Cafe, Pyles has opened some 15 restaurants, including Samar in the fall of 2009.
Pyles, a fifth-generation Texan, has received numerous awards as well as nationwide recognition. Bon Appétit credited Pyles with almost single-handedly changing the cooking scene in Texas. The New York Times called Pyles "an absolute genius in the kitchen." The Dallas Morning News further stated,"If anyone can lead this town to its next level of culinary evolution, it’s Stephan Pyles." Among his awards are the AAA Five Diamond Award; Nation’s Restaurant News’ Fine Dining Hall of Fame Award; Restaurants and Institutions’ 'Ivy Award' and the American Academy of Achievement Award. He was the first person from the Southwest to win a James Beard Award for 'Best Chef.' He was further the first Texas native inducted into 'Who’s Who of Food and Wine in America.' On top of all this he was awarded, 'Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year' by both the Minnesota Restaurant Association and Texas Restaurant Association. .
Stephan Pyles is the author of five cookbooks on Texan and Southwestern Cuisine. In addition to his many achievements, he also hosted the Emmy Award winning PBS television series "New Tastes From Texas With Chef Stephan Pyles." This series ran during 1998 and 1999 and included a number of guest Celebrity chefs, including: Diana Kennedy, Rick Bayless, Patricia Quintana, Zarela Martinez, Americo Circuit and David Garrido .
Born in Big Spring, Texas in 1952, Pyles received classical training in voice and piano. Nonetheless, he much preferred to apprentice in the kitchen of his family's West Texas truck stop. This was followed by classic training in fine French Cuisine and a 200 plus recipe book entitled "The New Texas Cuisine" which made him nationally recognized by his early thirties. One of the main purposes of Pyles' first book was to demonstrate that there's much more to Lone Star cooking than Tex-Mex and barbecue; in this wide-ranging book, the award-winning chef of Routh Street Cafe presents eclectic and sophisticated Texas recipes.
Pyles owned and operated the Dallas resrautants of Routh Street Cafe and Baby Routh from 1983–1993. He further owned and operated the restautants of Goodfellow’s and Tejas in Minneapolis 1987–1993. In 1994 Pyles opened Star Canyon which would prove to be the restaurant to make Stephan Pyle's career skyrocket. The James Beard Foundation dubbed it one of the top five new restaurants in America and it got raving reviews from Bon Apetit, Esquire Magazine, Town and Country, Playboy and other publications. The September 1998 issue of Food and Wine Magazine listed Star Canyon as the "quintessential Dallas restaurant.
In 1997, Pyles opened AquaKnox, a global seafood restaurant, It too was named a best new restaurant by Food and Wine. In 1998, Pyles sold Star Canyon and AquaKnox to Carlson Restaurants WorldWide and during the next two years opened new versions of Star Canyon in Las Vegas, Nevada at The Venetian, Las Vegas Hotel and Resort, and another at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel in Austin, Texas. Back in Dallas he opened "FishBowl," a new concept in an Asian-themed restaurant, and a casual Mexican restaurant called Taqueria Cañonita, which was later replicated in several cities around the U.S.A. Throughout his career, Pyles has cooked for dignitaries and celebrities, from HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Mikhail Gorbachev, to rock star Mick Jagger and actress Sharon Stone. He has also appeared around the world as a guest celebrity chef and was one of five chefs worldwide invited to prepare dinner for Jimmy Carter’s 70th birthday. In addition to his first cookbook, The New Texas Cuisine, Pyles has also co-authored "Tamales," and written "New Tastes from Texas," and Southwestern Vegetarian." He further worked full-time on the PBS T.V. show "New Tastes from Texas. Pyles was also a cuisine consultant for a number of hotel and resort companies as well as for American Airlines.
In 2001 Pyles took a five year “siesta” from the restaurant world; he used the time to travel, educate, teach, and write. During this hiatus, he spent significant time in Latin America, the Eastern Mediterranean including the Levant, Spain and India. These places would all provide cultural influences for his new restaurant ventures. In 2006, Pyles opened in Dallas a new restaurant named after himself. The "Stephan Pyles" Restaurant is located in the Dallas Arts District and serves an ever newer and more cutting-edge genre of cuisine, "New Millenium Southwestern Cuisine." This is a global tapestry of tastes, flavors, aromas and textures from Texas, South America, Spain, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
On November 22, 2009 a second new Dallas Arts District restaurant by Chef Pyles was opened. Its name is "Samar by Stephan Pyles." The word "Samar" is a concept designed on combining three cultures, Spain, Eastern Mediterranean and India. The restaurant has been getting mediocre reviews from patrons, leading to a complete management change.
Stephan Pyles is a founding board member of Share Our Strength, America’s largest hunger relief organization. In 1998, Share Our Strength presented Pyles the Humanitarian of the Year Award for his outstanding patronage. Pyles founded Dallas’ Taste of the Nation event for the organization in 1988, raising over $1,500,000 for local ministries and food pantries. He also serves as a life board member of The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB), an organization which “seeks to eliminate hunger by distributing food and grocery products through a network of nonprofits while providing education and increasing community awareness”. Since its inception in 1982, NTFB has procured and locally distributed more than 293 million pounds of food. In 1986, Pyles co-founded NTFB’s perishable food program The Hunger Link, which connects Dallas restaurants and hotels with shelters and meal programs. In addition to running two top-scale and demanding restautants and his charity work, Pyles serves as a cuisine consultant to Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, where he developed the restaurant’s menu and continues to provide culinary direction. He also has returned to work as a cuisine consultant for American Airlines and is also a chief chef consultant for Dallas-based Art Institutes International.
Since the 2000, the Food and Wine Foundation of Texas has awarded a $15,000 scholarship to a worthy Texas-based culinary student. The award is given to the winner of a cook-off held in a number of cities around the state. This scholarship is called "The Stephan Pyles Scholarship Fund."