In chef Tim Broxton’s kitchen, good food hinges upon three main ingredients: freshness, simplicity and flavor.
Extracted from travel, culture, people and his own life experiences, Broxton — best known by the moniker “Easy B” — has enlisted the trio in countless dishes since launching his catering business in 2009, most recently heaping them upon the plates of everyday epicures.
Opened inside Limestone Place in late September, Easy B’s Cafe and Market’s staple bill of fare includes soups, sandwiches and assorted deli items like pimento cheese, chicken salad and spinach and artichoke dip, as well as house-made sweets and espresso sourced directly from Italy.
The eatery’s specials, by contrast, are widely varied and rarely offered twice in one week, from Italian cuisine to Mexican empanadas and chicken tinga, offering patrons a taste of “all types of different foods that represent different cultures.”
“Most places specialize in one thing; we just specialize in great food,” Broxton said. “They won’t find another place like it in Gainesville. The variety and diversity of foods that we offer is incomparable for the size and type of shop that we are. We don’t like boring, drab foods. The main thread that goes through everything that we do is flavor. Because sometimes there’s not enough of it in life.”
Easy B’s also offers gluten-free options and take-and-bake dishes such as chicken pot pie, lasagna and broccoli, chicken and rice casserole.
Broxton shares the kitchen with chefs Robert McCue, Daniel Palmer and Joel Pizzolato — a “diverse group of talent” with a cumulative 50 years of experience between them amassed at Gainesville restaurants like 2 Dog, Yellowfin and now-closed Rudolph’s Restaurant and Cafe Julius
“Everyone continues to learn from one another for your entire life,” Broxton said. “Just when you think you know the best way to do something, someone else shows you another way. That’s the great thing about what we do — you’re constantly learning and experiencing everyone else’s expectations.”
Broxton’s introduction to culinary arts came by way of his parents and grandmother, whom he shadowed in the kitchen as a child.
A queen of desserts, Broxton’s mother ruled over homemade fudge, chocolate chip cookies and Hershey almond pie, while his father was more prone to experimentation.
“He enjoyed Indian food, Italian food and foods from different cultures that typically, at that time, people in the South really didn’t eat,” Broxton said.
In his grandmother’s kitchen, humble dishes like eggplant casserole, vegetable soup with okra, cheese toast with bacon and fried chicken became Broxton’s comfort food.
“I think sometimes that’s the best food,” Broxton said. “If you look back through history and see what peasants ate, those are the dishes that comfort people to this day. Those comforting dishes still make me feel like I’m sitting in her kitchen with her.”
One could say culinary prowess runs in the family, at least as far as Broxton is concerned. The chef is largely self-taught, having been classically trained in “everything but” the culinary arts.
He earned degrees in political science and international business, studying at Georgia Southern University and George Mason University in Washington, D.C., before completing law school at Atlanta’s John Marshall.
He practiced with his father, the late Allen Broxton, for about a year and a half representing clients in bankruptcy proceedings. It was his father’s dream to practice law together, Broxton said, and his “raison d’etre was gone when he passed away.”
Shortly thereafter, Broxton traveled to Europe “to find what impassions me, not what pleases other people. It turns out that pleasing other people is what impassions me.”
Honing his culinary skills in San Sebastian, Spain, and Tuscany, Italy, Broxton came to understand “the simplicity and freshness of ingredients is what matters in taste.”
Through Easy B’s, Broxton tries to impart his cross-cultural food knowledge with the best quality of ingredients he can find while maintaining an approachable price point for his clientele.
“That’s part of loving what you do,” he said. “Love doesn’t really involve greed.”
For Broxton, preparing food is more than satiating hunger; it’s nourishing the soul.
“Food brings people together,” he said. “You can be Democrat, you can be Republican, you can lean to the left, lean to the right, it doesn’t matter — food is one thing everyone shares in common. No matter the person’s personality, background, heritage (or) culture, food brings everyone together.”