Toque talk: Bradley Balch of Barrio

  • Will Shilling photo
From the 04/08/2009 edition

When the Due Amici team picked Bradley Balch to help open their exciting new Spanish and Latin American tapas enterprise Downtown, they got a chef steeped in local experience.

After receiving his culinary degree from the esteemed Johnson & Wales school in Providence, Rhode Island, Balch wore toques as: sous chef for the once-powerful and influential 55 Group; opening executive chef for Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus; and the executive chef of the Historic Dublin Restaurant Group, which includes high performers like Tucci's, Oscar's and the former Barnum & Tibbets.

Describe a meal you'd make to celebrate spring.

A quick saute of fiddlehead ferns and morel mushrooms served with fresh halibut.

What was the best meal you've ever had?

Vegetarian tasting menu at Fleur de Lys.

What would you cook for President Obama if he visited your restaurant?

Achiote-braised pork shank, or our grilled octopus if he is daring.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Garlic and kosher salt (my wife called it).

What is a risky food combination you've experimented with that just didn't work?

"Beernaise." When I was at Elevator I tried make a bearnaise with hops instead of tarragon. Hops are way too bitter.

What are your guilty food pleasures?

Good wings and ribs.

Are there any foods you won't eat no matter how they're prepared?

Organs - sweetbreads, tripe, tongue, etc.

What's your favorite cheese?

Taleggio or drunken goat cheese.

Do you watch any chef-oriented reality TV shows?

No Reservations.

What might we be surprised to find in your refrigerator right now?

"Floppy cheese" for the kids.

If you weren't cheffing, what might you be doing?

Surfing in Hawaii.

What's the best chef biography you've ever read?

Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

Do you have a go-to quickie meal you make after a long workday?

"Garbage" pasta and/or salad - meaning whatever's in the fridge and the pantry to throw in.