by Terri L. French
Terri: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a chef? What or who fueled that passion?
Chef Boyce: I knew at 14-years-old that I wanted to be a chef. Every Sunday night growing up my family would gather around the table to share a meal and each other’s company. The “sense of togetherness” associated with mealtime is what prompted me to start cooking. Food unites people in the kitchen and around the table, and I wanted to provide abundant opportunity for friends and families to gather to share food and memories in Huntsville.
Terri: Who has been your greatest teacher and why?
Chef Boyce: My father was my greatest teacher at cooking because he always had fun with it and he was very passionate.
Terri: I have eaten at all but one of your restaurants (need to get over to James' Steakhouse!) and they are all unique. How did you come up with your concepts?
Chef Boyce: The motto of Boyce Restaurant Concepts is “Eat Simply. Eat Smart. Eat Well.” I wanted to be diversified enough to cover all sides of cuisine to cater to all people in Huntsville.
Terri: What drew you to Huntsville? What is unique about the culinary tastes of this area?
Chef Boyce: After hearing about Huntsville and how great of a place it is to raise a family my wife Suzan and I decided to make the move across the country and start Boyce Restaurant Concepts. Our clientele and our friends are very open for new styles of food and different tastes.
Terri: Have you cooked at all of your restaurants?
Chef Boyce: Absolutely. I like to stay as involved in all of my restaurants as possible. Each restaurant is just as important as the other but my favorite restaurant to cook at is Cotton Row and my favorite restaurant to eat at is Pane E Vino.
Terri: What is the typical day of Chef James Boyce?
Chef Boyce: There are no 2 days alike and there is no typical day in the restaurant business.
Terri: What do you look for in a chef?
Chef Boyce: Creativity and passion.
Terri: I'm not going to lie; I've heard you are difficult to work for (not that that is a bad thing, some of my greatest teachers have been tough on me). Why do you think that is?
Chef Boyce: Because it is true. I don’t settle for mediocre effort put out by my employees.
Terri: How important is it for you to use local ingredients? Who shops for these ingredients? What comes first - the menu or the ingredients?
Chef Boyce: Ingredients are always first. I like to support local businesses so using local product is very important to me. We are currently using Flat Rock Growing Company for our lettuce and are very happy with our partnership.
Terri: If you weren't in the food industry, what would you be doing?
Chef Boyce: Most likely a pharmacist as I was always interested.
Terri: I've heard your guilty pleasure is pizza. What do you like on your pizza? What is your least favorite food?
Chef Boyce: My favorite toppings on a pizza are any and every type of meat. My least favorite is green vegetables.
Terri: Any more restaurants in the plans?
Chef Boyce: We are very proud of what we have right now and spending more time with our children!
Chef James Boyce is the winner of the Best Chef in Valley Planet’s 2012 Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll. His restaurants include Cotton Row, Commerce Kitchen, James Steakhouse, Cafe Alana Shay and Pane e Vino.