An Interview with Sous Chef Brad Phillips
Sous Chef at Harbor Beach Marriott Resort and Spa
Presented by: Chefuniforms.com
Originally from Ohio, Brad Phillips first became interested in food at a pretty early age. “My family and I would go to visit my grandparents in Dayton, Ohio, where my grandmother has an amazing organic garden. She did and still does grow anything from tomatoes, to cucumber, peppers, berries, asparagus, corn, zucchini, and green onions, just to name a few. Some of the best produce I’ve ever tasted.” Brad mentioned to me that his favorite time to cook was during the holidays, where the family would spend all day in the kitchen preparing meals.
Deciding to become a chef was an easy choice for Brad, because of his passion for cooking. So after attending a regular 4 year university and earning a degree in Business Management, Brad attended the
Culinary Institute of America and graduated with an AOS degree. Brad then moved to South Florida and got a hired at the 3030 Ocean restaurant located at the Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. “I was trained by a great chef, Dean James Max, who after 2 years of working at 3030, asked if I would be his Sous Chef in his new restaurant, Latitude 41, in Columbus, Ohio. I jumped at the opportunity. Now I’m back at Harbor Beach as a Sous Chef overseeing all food and beverage outlets for the resort.”
The following interview provides insight into what it really takes to be a successful Sous Chef. Do not forget to check out the recipe he provides. It is simply delicious…Your comments are appreciated.
Why did you want to become a chef?
As I got older, I really wanted to pick a career that I would be happy doing for the rest of my life. It became clear to me that cooking, menu writing, finding good produce, or just being around food made me the happiest.
What education would you recommend for aspiring chefs?
I would recommend to any aspiring chef to get some kind of culinary education even if it’s just part-time. I would also recommend some kind of business education if you are interested in opening your own restaurant some day.
What do you recommend for on the job training?
Find a restaurant that creates food that interests you. You’ll find that working in a place that does the kind of food your interested in will excite you even more about continuing your training. Always keep your eyes open in a kitchen. Try to pay attention to what everyone’s doing, and take a lot of notes.
Do you see any changes in food trends?
I think everyone is trying to be a little more health conscious these days. I’m seeing a lot less butter, cream, and fried foods. For me it’s a challenge to keep creating the foods that everyone loves, but without all the fat.
What is your greatest challenge in getting the ingredients you need?
It’s not always getting the ingredients you need; it’s getting the quality of the ingredients you need. My favorite way of cooking is keeping it simple. Using the freshest ingredients and preparing them in a way that you can taste the natural flavors of that product. If there not fresh, the customer will know.
Has the price of energy affected your industry?
I think the real affect is people not wanting to drive very far to eat a meal. I’m actually lucky to be in a good location that is easily accessible to customer so they don’t have to drive very far to the restaurant.
Do you see any dining trends within the US or abroad; including types of food today?
Cooking with organic ingredients is a very big thing right now and is something I like to do as much as possible. It’s an all natural way to grow or raise products and it’s great for the environment.
Do you see any dining trends surfacing for the future?
It would be nice to see a lot more organic products enter the market. I also think cooking with natural chemicals is going to be popular in the near future.
How much of the recipes you create is corporate and how much is your own?
Almost everything I make is my own. It makes the food I prepare more personal and to know that if the customer is happy that their enjoying something that I created.
What fabric and style of chef uniform do you enjoy wearing most?
To me, because I like to be on the line, cooking with my staff, I like to wear something light like Egyptian cotton. Something that keeps me cool in a hot kitchen.
What is your method of developing your sous chefs?
I want all my chefs to be as hands on as possible. Don’t worry about meetings or menus, just worry about the quality of the food production and the cleanliness of the kitchen.
Do you try to create a team spirit and environment with the kitchen staff? If so how do you accomplish it?
I try to surround myself and everyone else with a positive attitude. Every day I walk in the kitchen, I’m excited because every day is filled with new challenges. If I have a positive attitude, I expect my staff to also. When the staff is excited and happy, it directly affects the food and the service.
When preparing your menu do you consider health and try to prepare foods that are healthier?
Of course, the real challenge is to keep the flavors there while trying to keep the fat out.
Do you notice any resistance to unhealthy dishes?
Not really, everyone is different. Some people want to eat healthy and others just want what they want. As long as you give the customer a choice, everyone’s happy.
Do you enjoy dining out in your free time?
I love dining out. When you’re in the hospitality or service industry, it’s nice sometimes to be taken care of. It also gives me a chance to see what other chefs are doing and sometimes gives me ideas for my own menu.
Do you try to experience the food at your competitors? Do you ever get ideas from competitors?
It happens on occasion. It’s important to understand what the other restaurants are doing as well as the guests that are eating there. Sometimes you’ll walk away from a meal and say “wow, that was pretty good”, but the next day, you’ve got to try to do something better.
Do you think it is important to visit the markets rather than just have standard orders?
Especially when you’re new to the industry or maybe your opening a restaurant in a city or town that you’re not familiar with, I would definitely recommend visiting the markets or other purveyors to look at the quality of products you’ll be purchasing from them. It’s also good to pop in every once in a while to build a solid relationship with the people you buy your products from.
How do you test a new recipe without putting it on the permanent menu?
I will usually use my staff as guinea pigs first. When I’m playing with new recipes, I’ll make a dish for the staff and get their feedback first.
Do you pick the wines or is there a separate beverage manager?
I am a huge wine fanatic and so is my wife. Every time we drink wine, I’m always thinking how it would pair with a dish. Sometimes I’ll ask for help but for the most part I challenge myself to select the perfect wine.
If so does he try to pick wines that work well with the type of food that you prepare?
Some people don’t realize how important it is to select the right wine that pairs perfect with the food. Drinking the wrong wine with a meal could throw off the flavors that the chef was trying to create with the food.
What is your advice for planning a menu for a new restaurant?
Do research for the type of city or town you’re in. It’s important to understand what the people like in the location of your restaurant. Once you figure that out, you can tailor a menu that is personal to you but will also please the customer.
Could you please share a recipe with us?
8ea. Scallop (dried pack U-10)
Season the scallops with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and sear in hot pan until golden brown on one side. Turn scallops over and turn heat down to medium high. Add 1T. of butter. When other side has browned, remove from pan.
Sauté spinach and set aside for plating
Coconut Forbidden Rice
1c. Forbidden Rice
1c. Coconut Milk
1ea. Shallot (minced)
In a hot pot, start with a little extra-virgin olive oil and sauté shallot until soft. Add the rice and stir for 30 seconds. Add you coconut milk and water with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to low and cover. Stir occasionally until rice becomes soft. When rice is soft, remove cover and fold in butter. Season to taste
2lbs. Fresh Shitake Mushroom
¼ lb. Butter
3 stems Fresh Thyme
Salt and Pepper
Trim stem off mushroom and put in oven proof baking dish. Cut butter into smaller cubes and add to mushroom. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Cover with water just to top of mushroom. Place in oven uncovered for 30-40 minutes (or until mushroom is soft). Be sure to stir every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour off liquid just enough to keep mushroom moist. Check for seasoning.
Ginger Coconut Sauce
14 oz. can of coconut milk
¼ C. Heavy Cream
1 knob of Ginger (chopped)
1 Jalapeno Pepper (chopped, seeds removed)
¼ C. Sugar
Add all ingredients in a pan and bring to boil. Turn down to simmer and reduce until thickened.
Place 4 small spoons of rice in a row on plate. Next, place 4 small spoons of spinach of top of rice. Then the same with the mushroom. Top with scallops and drizzle sauce around plate. Finish with a light drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on top of scallop.
Taste Chef Brad’s cooking at:
Harbor Beach Marriott Resort and Spa
3030 Holiday Dr.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Reservations & Information: (954) 847-4770
Chef Brad will be our featured Chef on the cover of our Fall Catalog due to be mailed in September. Get your Free Chef Uniforms Catalog now.
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