by Joy Jangles
Tre Wilcox is tough. His fearless attitude in the kitchen has lead him to creating his ultimate masterpiece: Marquee Grill – an innovative twist on Modern American Cuisine. This week I had the amazing opportunity to interview Chef Wilcox for our Sunday Brunch series. He’ll be sharing his “Bacon” and Waffles – a house cured pork belly served alongside a stack of buttermilk waffles and drizzled with a huckleberry maple syrup.
Located right beside the Village Theatre in Highland Park Village, Marquee Grill offers a breathtaking dining experience with their modern 1930s Art Deco architecture and décor. During dinner service, The Chef’s Table is the place to be: you get an up close and personal experience in watching Chef Wilcox in action, while observing the grace and execution of a beautifully orchestrated kitchen. Feel free to switch seats throughout dinner as every seat offers its own unique point of view.
Wilcox originally from Duncanville, TX, knew he wanted to be a chef from a young age. Coming from a military background, Tre’s determination and discipline quickly brought him success in his field. To this day, he still finds time in his busy schedule to lift weights and stay in shape – “Working out is a stress reliever for me, it keeps me fit.” Chef Wilcox keeps his big guns fired up both in the gym and the kitchen, his ink of determination lets you know he’s serious when it comes to food.
Having worked under Kent Rathbun for over 7 years at Abacus, Chef Wilcox attributes Rathbun as one of his most influential teachers – opening his eyes to avant garde and molecular techniques. When asked what the most important thing he learned from Chef Rathbun was, he smiled and replied – “To be humble.”
“Cooking is like painting – I use the plate as my canvas to create my masterpiece through colors, textures and flavors with my ingredients.” It’s no wonder that Wilcox was a favorite contender on Bravo’s award winning series: Top Chef All-Stars. I promised to limit myself to ONE Top Chef question during the interview, it was hard to break it down to one but I had to know what his favorite challenge was.
“ The No Utensils challenge where the chefs must create a midnight snack for children that must be eaten without using utensils. It was a hard challenge but it was a lot of fun. I also loved the fishing challenge. It was different since there was more fishing than cooking, it was hard work reeling in those big fish. It was crazy but I loved it.”
Be sure to visit Chef Wilcox at Marquee Grill where he serves up delicious brunch items like the Jumbo Lump Crab Risotto or the Crispy Duck Spring Rolls every Sunday from 10:30 am-3:00 pm. They also have a wonderful lounge area on the second floor where you can enjoy cocktails and desserts– I have my eye on the Banana Mascarpone Trifle with Espresso Lady Fingers. Happy Fourth of July weekend folks, stay cool, be safe and most importantly HAVE FUN!
Since this dish is harder to execute at home, I am providing a nice buttermilk waffle recipe I found from Epicurious. Since not all of us can cure and comfortable cook pork belly like the Master, feel free to substitute bacon.
Recipe for Buttermilk Waffles from Epicurious
Makes 8 waffles, total cooking time: 30 minutes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
- 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- Vegetable oil spray for waffle iron
Put oven rack in middle position and put a large metal cooling rack directly on it. Preheat oven to 250°F and preheat waffle iron.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs in another bowl, then whisk into flour mixture until just combined.
Brush hot waffle iron lightly with vegetable oil and pour a slightly rounded 1/2 cup of batter into each waffle mold (see cooks’ note, below). Cook waffles according to manufacturer’s instructions until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer as cooked to rack in oven to keep warm, keeping waffles in 1 layer to stay crisp. Make more waffles in same manner.
Joy Jangles loves a good brunch and brings you a new version each week for craveDFW. You may find more of her unique perspective and beautiful photos at Joylicious.