Here’s the down and dirty. Wilcox worked in fast food at 17 and then landed a position at Eatzi’s, (where he worked his way up to corporate trainer). He participated in Brinker’s rigorous training, worked at Toscana restaurant and got a gig at Abacus (going from grill cook to sous chef to chef de cuisine), before attending The Culinary Institute of America in Greystone, California. He won a number of awards locally and nationally and was nominated as the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef for two consecutive years. He attended Alain Ducasse’s training center in Paris, appeared on Top Chef (Season 3) and on Iron Chef America. He also freelanced as a private chef (cooking for Russell Simmons, Jerry Stackhouse and the like), conducted in-home dinners and lead cooking classes for HEB. He was (and is) the face of Chantal cookware, and is now executive chef at Marquee Grill in Dallas, TX.
Wilcox is all too familiar with the world of chefs and their egos. He was on Top Chef after all. But just like the “bastardization of food,” he has no patience with the famous-for-being-famous shtick that is all too common even in the cooking world these days. “I’d rather be known for my cooking,” he says. For talented chefs, though, appearances on these shows “are very helpful with exposure if [the chefs] don’t make asses of themselves.”
Cooking is not the only thing that Wilcox is incredibly disciplined about. He is also a maniac about being in shape. And he is in incredible shape. “I was very heavy before,” he says. Seven years ago, I was 280 pounds. A plump kind of guy. I’d fluff the chef coat to hide it.” One day, he was just over it. “It was just a realization.” He not only recognized the gain, he also recognized exactly where it came from.
“You get married. You pick up happy weight. You get comfortable. I was a chef with a bad diet. You let it creep up on you,” Wilcox says. When he started losing weight he had a contest at the restaurant with other employees in the same predicament. “November 1 everyone put in $100. I lost 12 pounds in one month, took the pot, and never stopped. Now it’s an addiction.”
At 35 now, he recently opened a restaurant called Marquee Grill in May of 2011 in Highland Park Village (Dallas, TX). He plans to open a small 40- to 70-seat restaurant some time down the line.
Wilcox is a hard nut to crack. He knows what he wants and he likes what he likes. But he’s also a charmer, and his food is delicious. Between that and the disciplined way he approaches everything he does, he’s set to leave his teeth marks in the industry on every front.