Pyles was first introduced to the restaurant industry at an early age, bussing tables and chopping vegetables at his family’s Truck Stop Café in Big Spring, Texas. After studying music at Texas A & M University, his music career was sidetracked by a life-changing trip to France where he experienced haute cuisine for the first time. A few years later, his big break came when he was invited to The Great Chefs of France Cooking School at the Mondavi Winery, where he served as Chef’s Assistant and worked with Michelin 3-star chefs of the day such as Michel Guerard, Jean and Pierre Troigros, Alain Chapel, Paul Bocuse and Gaston LeNotre. There he met and worked closely with Julia Child and continued a warm friendship with her until her death.
Pyles was the first person in the Southwest to win a James Beard Award for Best Chef and was the first Texan inducted into The Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Wine in America. In addition to his wins, Chef Pyles has been nominated another 12 times by the Beard Foundation for Outstanding Chef in America and has had 6 restaurants that were finalists for Best New Restaurant in America. He has cooked for dignitaries and celebrities world-wide including 6 American presidents, 7 First Ladies, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth ll. He has been named Chef of the Year by the Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Voice.
Bon Appetite magazine has credited Pyles with “almost single-handedly changing the cooking scene in Texas” while the New York Times called him “an absolute genius in the kitchen”. Chef Pyles was named Esquire Magazine’s Chef of the Year, and Texas Monthly once named him one of the 20 most influential Texans of the year. He has authored four highly successful cookbooks and hosted two seasons of the Emmy-award winning PBS series New Tastes from Texas. In 2017, he was only the 10th chef be inducted into Nation’s Restaurant News’ Menu Masters Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of Wolfgang Puck, Paul Prudhomme, Jeremiah Tower, Daniel Boulud, and Jose Andres.
Chef Pyles was a cuisine consultant to American Airlines for 22 years and has consulted for the Dallas Museum of Art and a variety of hotels such as Hotel Zaza, The Gaylord Texan, The Omni, Hotel Eilan and Delta Marriott. In addition, Pyles has consulted on the food and beverage programs for Corporate Campuses including Verizon Wireless in Basking Ridge, New Jersey and Deloitte University in Grapevine, Texas. He has also licensed his name and develops menus for 2 airport operations in Dallas. He is currently Chief Culinary Advisor for Ventana by Buckner, a luxury senior living community in Dallas, and is engaged with 3 restaurants that carry his name there.
In January of 2020, Chef Pyles transitioned from restaurant ownership and operations to consulting, License Agreements and organizing culinary tours around the world.
Pyles says, “I have had an incredible four-decade run in this beautiful city and have seen many dynamic changes over that time. I now will focus on hospitality consulting, my license agreements and my culinary travels with David Morris International. This will also give me the opportunity, finally, to write my memoirs, documenting my experiences in serving the city’s famous and infamous, as well as cooking for the likes of Queen Elizabeth ll, Mick Jagger, Madonna, and of course a host of American Presidents and First Ladies. I will also share some very colorful stories from my world travels over the past 35 years. As well, I will critique the many food critics I have encountered over my long career.”
A tireless philanthropist, Pyles is a founding board member of Share Our Strength, America’s largest hunger relief organization and is a recipient of the organization’s Humanitarian of the Year Award for his work with their No Kid Hungry Campaign. He is a life board member of the North Texas Food Bank and has served on the board of Goodwill Industries and The Art Institute. He co-founded The Hunger Link, Dallas’ perishable food program that acts as a conduit between restaurants and hotels and ministries and soup kitchens. Through his Stephan Pyles Culinary Scholarship, he has awarded $250,000 to culinary students in Texas.