Canada's Chefs: Brad Richard, Saint John NB

by Krlmagi

Chef Brad Richard combines high quality ingredients with sophisticated cooking to create unique, flavourful dishes that showcases seasonality at Décimal81in Saint John.

Chef Brad Richard says that his initial inspiration for becoming a chef was his parents and their cooking which included diverse dishes from around the world. He says that he went into culinary school as soon as he graduated high school. He adds, "I liked culinary school so I went on an internship and worked at a couple of hotels. I went back for my second year of school and just continued on from there."

Chef Brad Richard in his kitchen
Chef Brad Richard in his kitchen

As a young cook, Richard says that aside from the chefs who taught him in culinary school, he was inspired by Chef Gordon Bailey at Dayboat on P.E.I. Richard explains, "I worked with him for a few years and I started taking over in the kitchen there with his guidance and his help. He was probably one of the biggest influences on me."

When it comes to his approach to food, Richard admits that as a business owner, he's having to consider food costs and consistency as part of his menu planning. He continues, "Definitely I go with seasonal availability. I look for  seasonal products in higher quantities so the price is a bit lower, but it still helps with our creativity. We're also going to start doing some foraging as well. There's quite a few things to forage out here in New Brunswick."

Richard says that when it comes to specific menu design he combines the creative use of seasonal ingredients with trying to utilize all of the product that he has available. He explains that he also looks at the balance of different types of proteins on his menu. He adds that local purveyors often call him to let him know what new ingredients are coming in.

He adds, "We start thinking about some of the recipes we've done or ideas that we want to try out. It always comes down to tasting the food. I always get my cooks to taste as they go along."

Salmon en persille with julienne vegetables, baby red potatoes, shallot crisps and lemon butter
Salmon en persille with julienne vegetables, baby red potatoes, shallot crisps and lemon butter
Beef tenderloin, buttered asparagus, truffle whipped potatoes, veal jus
Beef tenderloin, buttered asparagus, truffle whipped potatoes, veal jus

Open lines of communication, Richard says, are what helps him maintain his relationships with his purveyors. He explains that while he's not always buying, he's always open to hearing from his suppliers. He says, "I'm always interested in what's coming out of the waters or out of the fields. I  keep my ear to the ground, see what other people are doing and inquire about those things. I'll say, 'Hey I noticed this guy is using this! Is he getting it from you?' "

There are a few traits that Richard cites as important for a chef. He says that first of all a good chef needs to be able to handle the physical demands of a busy working kitchen. He continues by saying that perseverance and adaptability are also important traits. He elaborates, "It's also being able to make a mistake, accept that you've made a mistake and learn from it. You have to have failures to have successes."

In terms of his kitchen team, Richard says that he looks for people who share his vision for the food and the restaurant as a whole. He also talks about giving responsibility to young cooks on the team and points out, "I have a student who worked with me last year. This year I'm getting him to take on more responsibility in the kitchen like doing the scheduling, doing some ordering, having a little bit of freedom on the menu and really starting to nail down and standardize some of our recipes so there's some consistency."

Richard says that during certain parts of a chef's career it can be hard to find motivation. He says, "If you're going through a slow part of the season, it can be like, 'What am I doing today?' One thing that keeps me motivated is seeing the progression of the restaurant. I'm always trying to work on something or improve something.  I want to see how we can make things more efficient. When you start to see the fruits of your labour, it motivates you."

Lemon sabayon in an almond crust
Lemon sabayon in an almond crust
Updated: 05/26/2015, Krlmagi
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