There are few people whose childhood interests, often a fleeting obsession, develop into a deeper passion and an eventual career. New York-based chef Chad Brauze is amongst them. He cut his teeth working as a dishwasher at a small bar and grill at merely 14 years old, gradually rising up in ranks over the span of his more than two-decade long foray in the culinary industry. Today, the Culinary Institute of America alumnus is one of the most prominent names in the circuit. Brauze’s wealth of experience and unmatched knowledge is amassed from his apprenticeships in world-renowned Michelin-starred kitchens such as Ledoyen, George V, Pierre Gagnaire, as well as in the kitchens of Ferran Adria and Thomas Keller’s Per Se. He has also worked as the R&D chef for Daniel Boulud’s acclaimed cookbook, “My French Cuisine”.
Brauze now helms the kitchen at fine dining establishment Bevy, located within Park Hyatt hotel in Midtown, just steps from Central Park. Here, he delights the palettes of the restaurant’s diners with a meticulously thought through seasonal menu.
You have been with the Park Hyatt for a little over a year. What changes have you made to the menu since coming on board?
I put a lot of effort into working with small farms and growers from our area. For example, we are buying merguez from Jamison Farms Lamb, tomatoes from Eckerton Hill, lettuces from Letterbox Collective, oysters from the Great South Bay in Long Island, squash and squash blossoms from Norwich Meadows Farm, and beef from Sir William Angus.
Chef Chad Brauze
Do you have a dish in particular that you would consider a must- have for diners who frequent Bevy?
I always have a whole grain risotto on the menu made from a grain sourced via the Hudson Valley and whatever small vegetables are seasonal. Right now we are featuring einkorn with mint cream, peas, favas, asparagus, and Vin Jaune. It’s one of my favourites.
What is the most exotic dish on the menu — where are its ingredients sourced from and how is it prepared?
While I mainly try to source from local, seasonal growers, I also like to celebrate some of those luxury staples that I first experienced while working for Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller. In April, I always try to find nice jumbo white asparagus because they remind me of how Jean-François Bruel at Restaurant Daniel would spend hours every spring day peeling them to perfection at the pass (the long, flat surface where dishes are plated and picked up by wait staff ). In August, I buy Scottish grouse — their deep scent brings back memories from (my) time as a saucier roasting them rare. With November comes the parade of truffle dealers with briefcases full of fragrance. I buy these things because working with them reminds me of my past.
Einkorn risotto with morel cream, mint, fava beans, asparagus, Vin Jaune
Take us behind the process of how you create your dishes. Do you start work- ing from an ingredient in particular or perhaps, a taste profile that you are trying to create?
I start with an ingredient that I know is coming into season soon. Take, for instance, corn. Throughout my day, I will start to think of all the different ways that I’ve seen it prepared before or how I have experienced it at other restaurants, meals or even growing up. In the instance of corn, after a few days of thinking, I know that I want a bowl of buttery kernels that have been shaved fresh from the cob. That won’t be quite enough, though, as I need them to really shine. I think a bit more and decide that maybe a bit of vinegary bite is in order, so decide that they should be finished with a dollop of sauce Béarnaise (a hollandaise sauce finished with tarragon vinegar). After a few tests with my cooks, the flavour is there but the texture of the sauce is still off. The solution? We make a thick, smooth corn puree and fold equal parts into the béarnaise. Then we go back to the corn and decide that it has to be cooked with a touch of shallot, garlic and chive to really round out the dish. Voila! This year’s corn dish.
What sets the culinary experience at Bevy apart from the other restaurants in New York?
I have a small menu with a large focus on vegetables. We price everything so that people order extras to share. Dishes enter and leave when the seasons change.
Has working at Bevy or New York, in general, influenced the way you approach food?
New York is super competitive. We have easily 10 world-class restaurants in a five-block radius. It keeps me moving to match my peers.
Ribeye cap by the half pound, whole roasted garlic.
When people leave Bevy, what are the feelings that you want them to leave with?
I want my customers thinking about the dishes that caught their attention but they didn’t order this time. I want them to have a de- sire to come back for more.
There must have been many high-profile personalities who have dined at Bevy. Have any of them made you particularly nervous?
I spent five years working through every station of the kitchen at Restaurant Daniel during the time that Daniel Boulud ran the pass for most of each night’s service. There is no high-profile personality that could compare to that pressure and focus.
If you could cook for anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I like to read a lot of Charles Dickens. The stories are good and the humour is still fresh, but most interestingly he writes in depth about what his characters eat. It’s obvious that the guy enjoyed a good feast. It would be good to cook for him and then sit down to share the meal.
Crispy candied bacon, cayenne and cinnamon.
If you could have a chef take over Bevy kitchen for a day, who would you invite and why?
I would love to host a little party with all the line cooks that I cooked with in the past. It’d be cool to see where they ended up, what their style is now, and if I could see the roots of what we learned together years ago.
Your menu changes seasonally, which is your favourite season to work with and why?
The third week of June is when I start to see tomatoes, squash, herb blossoms, and all the other fun things that mark the summer.
What do you have planned next for the diners at Bevy?
I’m working on a way to serve a grilled beef shank. The cooking will be a two-part process: a long, slow braise to soften the tough meat and then a smoky sear to give grilled flavour and a roasted crust. I want it sauced with something that is fresh and herbaceous. I see it standing upright on a platter and perhaps our waiters will slice it tableside.
If you could sum up the culinary experience at Bevy in a sentence, what would it be?
Bevy: Good food sourced with care and prepared with thought.
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