Hero Profile » About Denise Baron
Burtons Grill Executive Chef Denise Baron was backpacking through Panama in 2004 when she got “the call.” Her older sister, Amy, was getting married and she wanted Denise to return home for the wedding. Baron readily agreed to temporarily halt her yearlong travels for the occasion. But when she showed up for her sister’s big day, Baron encountered an opportunity that would change her life journey forever. “I met my sister’s friend, Kevin Harron, after the wedding,” Baron, recalls. “He knew I had been the Executive Chef for Houston’s Restaurants and that I had extensive experience plus a culinary degree from Johnson& Wales.” Before the day was through, Harron had offered Baron the chance to become the Executive Chef for a new restaurant he was planning to open with veteran restaurateurs Kevin Rowell and Pat Gordon. The rest is culinary history. Since joining Burtons Grill’s growing chain of highly successful, polished-casual restaurants, Baron has created an enticing menu that bridges flavor and presentation and emphasizes honest ingredients and simple cooking methods. Clam chowder is infused with cayenne pepper to provide a subtle yet unmistakable kick, while a pan-seared scallop appetizer over fresh creamed corn teases the palate with hints of jalapeno pepper, a reminder of Baron’s South American influences. Burtons Grill’s trademark bronzed seafood entrées of salmon, shrimp, tilapia, scallops and swordfish reflect Baron’s love for richly flavored, aromatic food without the heaviness of blackening or Cajun spices. Fresh cilantro, parsley, chives, thyme, and mint plus ground coriander give Burtons Grill’s top-quality meats, day-boat seafood,seasonal vegetables, sandwiches, salads and sautéed items a sensuous appeal that is hard to match. Baron did finally complete her 12-month journey across the continent from Mexico to Chile, honing her mastery of the regional cuisines and appreciation for fresh, local spices and foods along the way. The philosophy at Burtons Grill reflects Baron’s wholehearted embrace of using top quality ingredients, classic, fresh flavors and uncomplicated cooking techniques to create a memorable dining experience. “When I create new menu items for the month, I think about the flavors and how they pair in the mouth and how the guests are going to feel after they’ve eaten them,” she relates. “I want people to remember their experience at Burtons Grill and keep coming back for it time after time.” “The owners tell me, ‘All we want are homeruns,’ ” Baron relates with a smile. “I say, “If it’s not a homerun, then I won’t do it.” It’s a winning combination for Burtons Grill.