Bryan Hawes, grill master

IMAGE: AMY SCOTT

BRYAN HAWES HAS BEEN THAT GUY AT THE GRILL for going on 20 years. His steak-making career started out when his then-employer, Whole Foods, gave him a Saturday showcase cooking beef samples. From there the dearly departed Tavern on Gray recruited Hawes to run its weekly steak night, turning him into something of a local celebrity.

“It went from 40 to 50 steaks a night to about 400 to 500 over the course of three years,” says Hawes, who now runs weekly nights at four local Heights and Montrose-area bars: Heights Public HouseCecil’sPimlico, and Dan Electro’s. “It kind of fell in my lap.”

Hawes’s steak nights are unique in that he carries pork chops and lamb along with the traditional ribeye, pre-rubbing all of his meat with his trademark Meat Mojo seasoning, which he swears by.

“I’ve heard so many great chefs say that if you have really good-quality meat, you only need salt and pepper,” he says. “I respect that, but I’m from Texas, and here in the South we like our food seasoned, you know?”

Hawes knows his stuff, which is why we asked him to break down the various degrees of steak doneness for us. While we all have our preferences (he isn’t picky but likes his own steaks somewhere around medium-rare or medium), the grillmaster says there are no wrong options. He explains.

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