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Grill Talk with Chef Jeff Harris of AF+B

Photography by Mei-Chun Jau.
Photography by Mei-Chun Jau.
This week we chatted with Chef Jeff Harris to discuss the inspiration behind his quintessential Texas fare. From Craft Dallas to Bolsa to AF+B, Harris has made his mark across the area for rustic dishes that take local ingredients and make the flavors shine through simple cooking methods.

Here’s to Round Two of Grill Talk:

Give us a little background to what led you to your status as leader of the grill.
I was born and raised in East Texas. A town called Gladewater, it’s about 2 hours east of Dallas, right off I-20. Both my grandparents had farms there and my fondest memories growing up were all centered around food. I think almost every passionate chef would tell you a similar story. We saw the love our grandmother put into making Thanksgiving for her family or saw her put the same amount of love into just making 2 of her grandkids a sandwich. That’s why we do what we do. We love to make people happy.

What is your favorite item to grill?
A big thick ribeye. Favorite thing to grill.

What is your ideal summer setting?
In my backyard with family and close friends.

What is your favorite summer sipper?
Gin and tonic.

What’s your summer backdrop or playlist for cooking out?
My music playlist will be eclectic. Black Keys, Rolling Stones, The Pixies, Ray Lamontagne, Ryan Adams, old school country, Bob Dylan.

Favorite dish outside of the grill?
Warm German-style potato salad.

Grilling advice:
You cannot beat cooking over hardwood. The flavor it imparts to whatever you are cooking cannot be replicated. If you have the ambition, the know-how and the time to do it, go for it. But I also know one of the reasons a lot of people utilize their grill at home is because of convenience. That’s why I think most people cook on a gas grill at home. It’s super convenient and very consistent, and there is nothing wrong with that.  If you own a charcoal grill and aren’t using hardwood, use natural hardwood charcoal and don’t use lighter fluid. It imparts a chemical flavor to anything you cook and I can’t imagine it’s good for you. 

No matter what you are grilling over, it must be super hot!

Step outside the normal proteins and grill something different:
I love cooking vegetables on the grill. Mushrooms are great. The smoky flavor they pick up really brings out their earthiness. Also greens. Collards, mustards, beet greens. Just blanch them first then pick up on the grill. They are awesome.