Billy’s Tyler Mason: How he went from dishwasher to head chef in just 10 years.
It's hard to believe that Billy’s head chef Tyler Mason had no aspirations to become a chef when he grew up. At only 30 years old, however, his rise to the top is an impressive one.
His career began at 16 when he started as a dishwasher, though he had no idea what was in store for his future. On one fateful day, a coworker failed to show and so Mason was assigned to sauté on the line.
“I was awful!” he says with a laugh. While becoming a chef wasn’t something he’d considered as a career, Mason got serious about the job, becoming a corporate chef for Flat Rock Grill at just 20 years old.
“I liked the fast-paced pressure, as well as the reward that comes from creating something from nothing.”
Mason was hired as the junior sous chef at Billy’s when it re-opened three years ago. A year later, he became head chef and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. Seafood, particularly speckled sea trout, is his favorite type to work with, though he’s open to new things.
“Our cuisine changes on a day-to-day basis,” Mason says. “I like cooking things I’ve never worked with or seen before.”
Outside of work, Mason, a Roanoke native, enjoys being outdoors, whether it’s camping or fishing. He enjoys experimenting with different recipes, especially desserts. One of his favorites to make is ghost-pepper ice cream.
Mason’s recipe for bread pudding may have several ingredients, but rest assured it’s not complicated. This writer can vouch that you’ll be making it for years to come because it’s just that delicious!
Cinnamon Bun Bread Pudding with Rum Icing
Ingredients for the pudding:
- 8-10 eggs
- 4 cups milk (2% or higher)
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup cinnamon
- 1 tbsp nutmeg
- 1 ½ loaves of bread (cubed and crusts cut off)
Ingredients for the spiced rum icing:
- 2 cups spiced rum
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups white chocolate
Instructions for Pudding Mixture:
- Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.
- Whisk eggs in large bowl to blend.
- Add milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg; whisk to blend well; stir in bread cubes.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking dish; cover and refrigerate 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 F; bake pudding uncovered until puffed and golden (about 1 hour, 15 minutes).
Instructions for Spiced Rum Icing:
- Pour rum into sauté pan and reduce until alcohol is burned off.
- Add vanilla extract; stir and add white chocolate.
- Continue to stir and add heavy cream until there is a thick yet runny consistency.
- Pour over bread pudding and serve warm.