“My inspiration is driven by memories of what I’ve cooked and what I’ve eaten,” explained Chad Brauze, Chef de Cuisine of Bevy, a new American restaurant in New York City’s Central Park South neighborhood. In an interview with Brauze, we discussed the origins of the restaurant, creativity and perfection, signature items on the new menu, and much more.
Tell me a little bit about the origins of Bevy. What philosophy or approach underpins the new restaurant and its menu?
The name Bevy, a synonym for swarm or group, is inspired by our desire to see this restaurant as the culmination of the work of many, many different individuals. It isn’t just the chef, or the pastry chef, or the sommelier. Bevy is driven by our plate makers in North Carolina (HAAND), our mangalitsa pig grower in New Jersey (Mosefund), our fisherman in Hampton bays and Montauk (connected by Sea2table), and all the various farmers, ranchers, and producers that we draw from north of the city (Upstate farms, Hudson Valley Harvest, Norwich Meadows, Battenkill Dairy, Nettle Meadows Cheese, and many more).
Where do you draw your inspiration from, and how do you maintain the level of creativity and discipline necessary to stay relevant in such a dynamic industry?
My inspiration is driven by memories of what I’ve cooked and what I’ve eaten. So when I make a dish, I might be chasing a flavor or a feeling that I remember from the past. The past could be a place where I’ve eaten or a dish that my grandma would cook for us. I don’t worry too much about relevancy. I just follow the seasons, buy nice ingredients, and use the things that I learned from working with great chefs to drive my menu.
Walk me through the process of how a new dish is created, from your mind to the plate.
All my dishes start from a single ingredient that I know that I want to work with. Not too long ago, we got these really beautiful Lemon Oyster Mushrooms from a little mushroom cultivator in Pennsylvania called Primordia Farms. They are a husband and wife team working together to make a beautiful little assortment of fungi, and their Lemon Oyster is the cream of the crop.
What are some of the signature items on this new menu?
I’m especially proud of how we prepare our chickens at Bevy. I change the stuffing to reflect the seasons, currently Rye Berries and Rye Whiskey. We start with one of Ariane Daguin’s (she started D’Artagnan) Green Circle chickens. She worked with a small, Mennonite farm in Pennsylvania to develop a chicken that tasted rich like the birds of her French youth. They are grown for much longer than a traditional, commodity chicken so they gain more flavor and are air-chilled after processing so the skin gets crispier when cooking. We take one of those birds and stuff it under the skin with a mixture of farm butter, spring garlic, green onions, and cooked rye berries. Then we inject it with this beautiful rye whiskey from Widow Jane in Brooklyn. Finally, it gets a liberal sprinkling of salt all around the exterior. Then it is aged for 7 days under the fans of our walk-in refrigerator so that the salt penetrates and the skin dries.
Is there such a thing as the perfect dish?
The closest that I’ve ever come to tasting a perfect dish was at Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago. He served shellfish on a warmed piece of ocean driftwood that had seaweed draped across it that emanated a salty, seaside aroma. The shellfish were fresh and minimally prepared and the sommelier had paired the perfect sauvignon blanc to tie together the sweet brininess of the seafood. It was the closest I’ve come to experiencing a perfect dish.