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Haute Dog Kingby Kate Abney | Jezebel magazine | October 7, 2011
As the third stooge to Richard Blais' and Barry Mills' unstoppable duo, HD1 Executive Chef Jared Lee Pyles is cooking up some seriously tasty hot dogs in Poncey-Highland. Since the new resto opened on Sept. 22, he's been giving its every offering a twist—from bourbon-and-brown sugar soft-serve ice cream to a pastrami dog with braised oxtail, tripe and Russian dressing on Guyanese sweet bread (you can read all about it in JEZEBEL's October issue). Intrigued, we ordered an extra helping of his insider scoop:
You're originally from Oxford, Alabama. What brought you to Atlanta?
I came to Atlanta following the advice of a chef I worked for while I was living in Auburn. He told me that I needed to stop wasting my time and go battle with the big boys (and girls). So I enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu [College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta] and then was offered a job by Mike Isabella at KYMA, and that was that.
What was the toughest lesson you learned while moving up the ranks in your culinary career?
It's not the burns, cuts or sore muscles from long hours. It was having "thick skin"—meaning, when the heat was on and I dropped the ball and got yelled at, I had to just say, "Yes, chef" and learn from my mistake.
You've flown a bit under the radar in the wake of recent HD1 fanfare (Richard Blais' star power is hard to eclipse). What's something you can tell us to help us get to know you better—a funny quirk, a guilty pleasure, something that's uniquely Jared?
On the creative or innovative front, I view myself and Blais as equals. Granted, he has more experience and training than I, but when it comes to creating something unique and original, I think we are on level playing fields. Also, I love to go thrift store shopping and I enjoy antique malls. This translates to the kitchen: I love to take old things and make them new again.
You traveled the country with Blais during your tenures at Home and FLIP Burger Boutique, even cooking at the James Beard House. What was the most exciting part of that experience?
You might think it is getting to work with great chefs—which is exciting—but it was learning that there is so much more to being a chef than standing in your kitchen all day, every day.
What would you consider your specialty/area of expertise as a chef? What technique or cuisine would you like to learn more about?
I strive not to corner myself into any cuisine as a chef. My style of cooking can range from super-modern to rustic home-style plating. It is just a matter of when and where and for whom and what I am serving. My general guideline is that it has to be tasty.
What do you love most about cooking at HD1 and what drew you to this post, in particular?
Well, to put it simply, it's my menu. More importantly, it's my first menu here in Atlanta. It's a glimpse into the type of food and flavors I love to cook. I have Blais in my corner like Rocky had Mick; he keeps me focused (and sometimes tells me I'm a bum—just kidding), and it's my job to kill it.
How do you put your own spin on Blais' inventive cuisine concepts?
As chefs, we all have unique culinary visions. I think that my and Blais' vision, while different, are parallel to each other.
Can you give us any insider scoop on something totally new and unexpected we will see at HD1 this fall?
Anything and everything. From warm pig's foot salad with wild mushrooms to an "Elvis" sammy with peanut butter-bacon cookies and banana soft-serve to sausages made of shrimp, oysters, crayfish and cornbread.
Speaking of autumn, what a beautiful season it's turning out to be! What is your favorite thing to do in Atlanta during this time of year?
It was said best by one of the greatest rock bands of all time (Queen), "I want to ride my bicycle..."
What else can you tell us?
I absolutely love this city. I've had chances to leave, but I'm glad I choose to stay. And now I want my food to make this city proud.