Gainesville native and Eastside culinary graduate Briton Dumas has owned and operated Embers Wood Grill for 10 years with his partners Charles Allen and Ryan Todd. Dumas’ talent and love of cooking earned him $80,000 in scholarships to attend culinary school, which lead him to walk away from a full scholarship to attend West Point. Classically trained in French cuisine and with experience under renowned chef Alan Susser, Dumas, who is happily married and the father of three, continues to showcase his talent at Ember’s Wood Grill nightly and cooking with friends and family.
- What is your biggest pet peeve when watching others cook? First, I watch to make sure anyone cooking has washed their hands then, it’s how they handle a knife.
- I only eat steak well-done, people comment that I ruin the meat, is that true? Yes, in my opinion. The majority of cost to quality of meat is based on the fat/marbling that is in the meat. Cooking it well done renders out that fat and dries out the meat. Might as well pick up a pack of beef jerky on the way to the next dinner party…
- Do chefs really get upset when customers alter the dishes on the menu? Yes and No. Chefs spend a massive amount of time and energy researching and testing each menu item and how it pairs well with the other components of a dish. The alterations to specific things also add lots of time to prep the dishes and can add time to others waiting for there food. So I’m sure you could see where that makes it tough on them. On the other hand, we are a service industry and chefs understand that. Most chefs are great at impromptu requests and handle it well. Some even liken it to a challenge.
- What is the one thing you always have in your pantry and fridge at home? My pantry always has salt, many different varieties of tastes and textures. The fridge always has butter, high quality and unsalted. Those are two ingredients I cannot live without.
- I want to be a better chef at home, but, I just can’t seem to get into the groove. What tips do you have to get me started? Try some pre-portion meals that have simple directions to start. I’ve seen many people learn basic recipes that way. It takes a lot of the shopping and measuring out of the equation, which limits the mistakes that you can make.
- What is the secret to cooking the perfect steak? Use a thermometer. Temp the steak twice and measure a 1/4 inch from the edge and also in the center. Take the average of the two temps and that is where your steak will be after it rests. And always let the meat rest for at least 3 minutes, it gives the steak time to even out the temperature and the color.
- What cooking gadgets are a must have in any kitchen? A thermometer! All Chef jackets come equipped with a pocket designed just for that tool.
- What is your go-to meal at home? Breakfast. Since I work during the day and at night, I enjoy cooking breakfast with my kids whenever possible.
- What current food trend is your favorite? Least favorite? Favorite: Sous vide. It has become very popular lately and has made cooking a lot easier for some. If you haven’t tried it you should. Least favorite: fad diets… what will they come up with next?
- If you could only have one meal for the rest of your career, what would it be? Wood grilled prime New York strip with brûlée foie gras torchon, lobster mashed potatoes and asparagus. I don’t think I would ever be sick of that.
Should all meals end in dessert? Dessert is great, but some say digestion is better with a salad at the end of the meal. Sometimes savory things like cheeses are a nice compliment to a meal if you’re not only into the sweet stuff.
by Chef Briton Dumas