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Food & Drink

Why You Should Pay Attention to Chef Jeff Wiley

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Peas and patience: Wiley focuses on execution and earthy flavors

“For me, it was about the overall experience, trying to keep hotel food out of the hotel restaurant,” he says. Wiley reworked the menu, adding Spanish influences such as the Manchego-stuffed and jamon Iberico-wrapped chile guero.

But that life wasn’t for Wiley. While resources are plenty, crafting a hotel-safe menu was too confining. Ever the student, the idea of owning his own kitchen has crossed Wiley’s mind, especially these days as he cranks out close to 600 plates on a Monday evening.

The six-course tasting was prepared with the help of former colleagues Gutierrez (visiting from Laredo), Bowers, Nowlin and Feast sous Ezekiel Cavazos, totaling 11 pairs of hands on deck that brought Wiley’s elaborate vision of a vibrant pea salad, earthy sous-vide sweetbreads, braised rabbit and the aforementioned chile guero to life, among other dishes.

“Getting to share the stage with a talent like Jeff is humbling,” Nowlin said while hinting at a possible pairing between the two, “other cities have done it (co-executive chef concepts), San Antonio has never done that. There might be a spot somewhere downtown available.”

For now, those aching to try more of Wiley’s handiwork will be able to visit the chef at NAO, where he’s joining executive chef Geronimo Lopez’s pro-staff.

“I’m competitive in nature, but as with cycling, my philosophy is that we’re a team,” says Wiley. “This is not ego-driven. It’s about saying, ‘I’m the young guy, and I’m happy to be supporting the champ today.’ If you don’t deliver, you don’t win.”

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