We recently sat down with renown Houston Chef, Jessica Timmons at her new restaurant, Cherry Block.
Jess DeSham Timmons is the Chef/Partner of Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Kitchen. She began her training at the Culinary Arts program at Art Institute of Houston, and her career in the restaurant industry has spanned over two decades as the former Corporate Operations Manager at Landry’s, Inc., President of The Republic Country Club, Partner at The Caboose BBQ and Owner/Chef of Camellia Monday Consulting. Jess’ style is epically Texan – straightforward and honest with a big personality, quite reflective of the chef herself. She is also a founding Member and part of the Advisory Board of Foodways Texas, which is a group that is committed to preserve and record the history and rich culture of food in Texas.
Cherry Block is part of the latest addition to the Houston Culinary scene of “Who’s Who” in the BBQ business. Located inside the Bravery Chef Hall, Cherry Block is a stand out among decadent food fare. Bravery Chef Hall is the next generation of the food hall and is the first of its kind.
Bravery and Cherry Block are located in the Aris Market Square in downtown Houston.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef and butcher?
Jessica: It all boils down to a connection. I’m able to see a whole animal go from the hoof directly to our guests, and we are very proud of that. We know our meat is of great quality because we either raise it or partner closely with someone who does, and harvest and butcher it as we should. We are different at Cherry Block because our meat supplier is also my partner, Felix Florez of Black Hill Family Farms. We are able to get specific cuts that may not be available to all, and that allows us to provide some amazing meals at a price point that is very approachable for everyone.
What trends to you see developing for Texas BBQ over the next 5 years?
Jessica: BBQ in general has gone from being an afterthought for a quick meal to something that we all put a lot of care into. The food you see coming from the folks cooking it is genuine and unexpected at times. The sides aren’t always beans and potato salad; the meat is responsibly sourced. The pits are designed with great care. The trend I see is that heart and hard work are prevalent. It’s always been that way, but getting creative with sides and items other than the Texas Trinity (brisket, ribs, and sausage) is where we are all making moves.
What are the most important milestones in your career to date?
Jessica: I’ve done so many amazing things that I’m proud of in my career. How many other people can say they’ve fed Willie Nelson and Ray Wylie Hubbard on the same day? But the thing I’m most proud of is that I’ve had the opportunity to become a great leader and teach others how to be great at what they do too.
What is your favorite meal?
Jessica: Fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Hands down, no question. My mom talked me through her recipe many years ago, and I’ve tweaked it a bit, but every time I make it I think of eating around my family table with lots of laughter and love.
Why did you become a chef?
Jessica: Because I’m crazy! Ha! Seriously, though, it’s been a road that just kind of organically happened. My love for the restaurant business as a whole has been integral in ending up in the kitchen. I love to see people’s reactions when they take a bite of our food and immediately go to a place that they will remember. Filling stomachs is easy. I like to fill their hearts and minds as well.
I saw you on Beat Bobby Flay one night eating a piece of apple pie.
Houston is down the road from us so I will make sure to visit your restaurant one day.