Betony Executive Chef Bryce Shuman grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and from a young age was exposed to high- quality food. His mother, a cultural anthropologist with a degree in nutrition, was an ambitious cook who insisted he help out in the kitchen and step up to the plate to recreate dishes such as his dad’s revered puttanesca recipe. When the family lived abroad for long stretches in places as diverse as the jungles of Costa Rica and the Arctic as part of his mother’s anthropological research, they would eat local, which is how Bryce tried raw caribou and seal at an age when his peers were embracing Fruit Loops.
Bryce’s hospitality career started modestly enough in 2001, as a dishwasher at Mesh Café in Greenville, North Carolina, where he was quickly promoted to chef de cuisine. It was at Mesh that he met a waitress, Jen, who would later become his wife.
In 2003 he moved to San Francisco to enroll in the California Culinary Academy (CCA), while working nights on the line at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio. There, Bryce met chef Jack Yoss, an early mentor, who taught him many kitchen skills, including how to man a giant charcoal grill, which became his favorite station.
After graduation, Bryce went to work at Rubicon in San Francisco, where he credits then Executive Chef Stuart Brioza and his wife, Pastry Chef Nicole Krasinski, for being exemplary leaders. Stuart completely debunked the stereotype of the great chef as screaming madman, calmly and patiently teaching Bryce how to break down a whole snapper or make consommé, skills that can only really be learned on the job through repeated trial and error. Stuart also ignited Bryce’s passion for the farmers market and local cuisine. Nicole, an equally bright light, showed Bryce how to gracefully blur the lines between salty and sweet, and how to maintain a sunny outlook in the midst of a stressful service.
Upon returning from a long trip to Europe to work and dine in top restaurants, Bryce moved back to the East Coast in 2007. After trailing at a number of elite NYC restaurants, Bryce settled on Eleven Madison Park based on Chef Daniel Humm’s leadership and the kitchen’s dynamic atmosphere.
At Eleven Madison Park, Bryce worked alongside Chef Humm for six years, and credits him for pushing him harder than anyone to achieve his full potential. Over the course of his time there, Bryce worked every station and every Sous Chef position and was eventually promoted to Executive Sous Chef. He worked beside Chef Humm when the restaurant garnered a four-star review from The New York Times, three-star review from Michelin, and was ranked 10th in San Pellegrino’s guide to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, among many other accolades. Bryce also accompanied Chef Humm on trips abroad to collaborate with other chefs and was responsible for the testing and editing of the recipes in Chef Humm’s cookbooks.
In May 2013, Bryce opened Betony with fellow former Eleven Madison Park colleague, Eamon Rockey (General Manager). At Betony, Bryce’s menu is inspired by familiar flavors of food he loves presented in a distinctly modern way. In its first year in business the restaurant received three stars from The New York Times, was named Esquire’s “Restaurant of the Year” and was a James Beard Foundation finalist for “Best New Restaurant” in the country. In March 2015 Chef Shuman was named a 2015 Food & Wine “Best New Chef.”
When not at Betony, Bryce enjoys playing blues guitar, snapping photos with his Polaroid Reporter SE, visiting art galleries with his wife, enjoying the company of his newborn daughter Emilia, and annoying his cats.
Portrait by Signe Birck