Tylör Boring: Private Chef
I first met Tylör Boring in 2010 outside a bar on 14th St. in the East Village. A mutual friend introduced us, prefacing that the two of us might get along as we were both working in restaurants. Tylör was a cook at a steakhouse in Greenwich Village, the type of place I imagined NYU students took their parents when visiting. I already knew a little about him from reading a short interview he did for BUTT Magazine. In it, he talked about growing up in Kansas City, fermentation and the homophobic and macho nature of restaurant kitchens. I was genuinely inspired by that interview and reading it was the first time I can remember feeling connected to someone through food as well as our identities as homosexuals.
I don’t remember much from our conversation that night, besides a crude joke Tylör made about the adverse affects Momofuku Milk Bar cookies would have on my testicles. It wasn’t exceedingly funny, but I laughed. He was pretty charming. Tylör and I remained friends after this, to varying degrees. If nothing else, I always liked to know where he was cooking.
On a sunny day, I meet Tylör on 15th St. in Manhattan, on the exact opposite side of town where I first met him. We’re at Blue Bottle Coffee, not far from where he works and lives. He’s dressed in all black: black jeans, black jacket, black shoes and a black cap. He’s blending in so well he stands out. He looks healthy and rested and orders an espresso. “You always see me drinking Starbucks,” he quips with a crooked smile. “But I’m actually really picky about my coffee.” This wouldn’t surprise anyone who’s talked to Tylör about food before. He’s incredibly geeky and detailed-oriented when it comes to cooking. Tylör tells me about one of many signature preparations he turns out at Tipsy Parson, the 5-year-old American restaurant where he has been the executive chef for the last year. “Right now for my roasted chicken dish, I’m braising the chicken, roasting the breast and taking the skin, drying it and making candied chicharron. There’s a lot of shit going on.” I start to salivate. With Tylör at the wheel, Tipsy Parson seems to be making a comeback. The restaurant was tossed a few goose eggs when it first opened at the end of 2009 (Sam Sifton at NY Times said that Tipsy “just isn’t happening right now.” -So bitchy, right?). But the Saturday night meal I had in preparation for this article couldn’t have been more fabulous, inventive and dynamic.
This isn’t Tylör’s first time at the rodeo. Before Tipsy Parson, Tylör ran the kitchen at Hill Country BBQ, a 10 Million dollar a year restaurant in the Flatiron District. He is an old hand at making good food for a lot of people. “We did Thanksgiving for 3,000 guests,” Tylör reports. “You’re talking about an enormous amount of effort and foresight and thought and [that experience] definitely served me well.” I start piecing together the stepping-stones of Tylör’s calling as a chef, some more beneficial than others.
In 2011, Tylör became a “cheftestant” and openly gay mini-celebrity on Bravo TV’s Top Chef. He generated a following, among women and gay men alike. His career on the show is somewhat short-lived but unquestionably celebrated. He seems indifferent about the experience. “I don’t regret being on Top Chef, but I wouldn’t do it again,” Tylör continues. “It’s something I really thought I wanted. I thought it was really important and it just wasn’t for me.” Tylör’s experience on the show, however, could not be more atypical; his highs and lows on the series are intermittently punctuated with the surfacing of nude photos.
Tylör had posed nude for a number of publications, art and otherwise, but never did any actual pornography. “I grew up in a super religious environment. I was a 24 year old Christian missionary when I came out,” Tylör says. “So, part of [doing those photos] was learning to feel comfortable in my own skin.” The leaked photos shocked exactly zero gays living in North Brooklyn (myself included; I had seen Tylör’s rear end in a magazine long before ever meeting him in person), but the rest of the world seemed a little put off. The timing of the “leaks” is suspicious, but not terribly dastardly. The photos were out there, someone just had to get them online and in the hands of the media. “It kind of bummed me out when Eater got a hold of them,” Tylör tells me. “It’s like, that’s the only thing people think about my food and that’s disconcerting.” It’s true. Googling Tylör is like Googling Colin Ferrell in 2004, it’s pretty much all dicks. That certainly didn’t end Tylör’s cooking career, although a freak accident the following year almost did.
After Top Chef, Tylör runs with some of the momentum from his television fame and, for about a year and a half, is exclusively cooking privately. “I was cooking for people here, for people in Europe, for people on the West Coast,” Tylör explains with poise. “I was doing super crazy high-end catering at remote locations. I did a $35,000 gig one weekend for ten people in upstate NY.” This included ingredient and labor costs of course, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more worthwhile line of work. Around this time, Tylör spends part of the summer on Fire Island. One day, he’s standing out the back of a shared house by the beach when the balcony collapses. Tylör falls with it and breaks his back. The damage is pretty serious and he is out of commission for a good portion of the year. Tylör says it wasn’t the worst timing possible. “Those things dovetailed well- because having a freelancer’s schedule allowed me to do physical therapy and heal a little bit.”
Since nude-gate, the accident, and more recently, the end of a long-term relationship, Tylör’s exhibitionistic tendencies seem to have turned-off completely. He’s definitely a different person than whom I met in 2010. Facebook and Instagram aren’t a priority. “Being on Top Chef made me realize that I’m actually a really private person,” says Tylör. While he has reached personal goals such as running a downtown restaurant, he seems contemplative about himself. He has a lot of success to look forward to, but his next move isn’t easy to pinpoint. He mentions a dream of opening up a remote eatery like Tulum, Mexico’s hyper-local farm-to-table destination Hartwood; or possibly a one-man-show diner in Manhattan with ten seats to its name. He concludes simply, “I’m at a crossroads.”
BY WOOD GOLDFIELD