Chef Brian Rutherford is a native of Philadelphia who has called South Florida home for the past 17 years. A graduate of the prestigious CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in Hyde Park, New York, he honed his craft first in Philadelphia before landing in Boca Raton at Max’s Grille in Mizner Park. At Max’s Grille, he worked for South Florida restaurant icons Burt Rapoport and Dennis Max, while training with Chefs John Belleme and Joe Longo. After a three year stint at Max’s, Chef Rutherford moved to South Beach to head up the kitchen as the Executive Chef in opening Pearl Restaurant and Champagne Lounge. Pearl was a hip, innovative restaurant that on any given night entertained the likes of Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and Michael Jordan. Being the Executive Chef of Pearl for over two years allowed Chef Rutherford’s creative abilities to blossom. From South Beach, Chef Rutherford moved to Ft Lauderdale, heading up the kitchen at Bistro Mezzaluna, a neighborhood favorite on the east side of town. Bistro Mezzaluna was where Chef Rutherford was most comfortable, spending the next 10 years as the chef. He was able to refine his talents in serving the best quality products while using simple, fresh ingredients, while satisfying even the most discerning palates.
In his latest endeavor, Chef Rutherford has spent the past few years working as a Chef Instructor teaching his craft to young culinary students at Sheridan Technical Center in Hollywood, Florida. Chef Rutherford’s focus has changed dramatically from being an Executive Chef to training the future chefs of tomorrow. Sharing his passion and dedication with young chefs has always been a dream of his after realizing how important the culinary school experience was in his own career path.
Along with teaching, Chef Rutherford keeps busy by spending time with his wife Michele and their two children, ages 7 and 9. Chef Rutherford also enjoys golfing and eating at other restaurants as much as possible.
Read on for our in-depth interview with our Chef of the Month for May.
Congratulations Chef Brian Rutherford on being our Chef of the Month for May! We love your personal touches on everything…
1. What is your birthplace?
2. What made you decide to become a chef?
I like to eat and my parents used to cook the same food all the time and I got bored eating the same dishes. I started experimenting and then got a job in a restaurant when I was attending high school and this where I fell in love with it. I get a major rush every time I work in a restaurant.
3. What do you enjoy doing outside of being a chef?
I love spending time with my family – my wife and 2 kids and golfing is my next passion.
4. What is your Must Have Kitchen Tool?
I like all kitchen tools but the Japanese Mandolin is one of my favorites! It is a versatile veggie cutter and it cuts vegetables very thin and very fine like a julienne cut (cutting into long, thin strips, like matchsticks) and batonnet cut (another type of long strips).
5. Do you enjoy dining out on your free time? What is your favorite type of cuisine?
Yes. I love to eat at ethnic or small out of the way places.
6. What fabric and style of chef uniform do you enjoy wearing the most?
Egyptian cotton and Seersucker chef jackets. I love that they are short sleeve perfect for the Florida weather and they are very light and has high textured patterns.
7. Chef Brian Rutherford’s Chicken and Italian Sausage with Rigatoni and Balsamic Recipe
|3||Ounces||Diced, Marinated Chicken (oil, garlic, basil, parsley)|
|Salt and Pepper|
|3||Ounces||Italian Sweet Sausage (cooked and cut on the bias)|
|2||Ounces||Roasted Red and Yellow Peppers (mixed)|
|4||Ounces||Roasted Chicken Stock|
|Salt and Pepper|
|1||Ounce||Parmesan Cheese, grated|
Heat oil in a sauté pan until it just starts to smoke. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Brown chicken a little on both sides. Add the sausage, roast peppers, basil, parsley, pepperoncini, and garlic, and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with white wine and reduce by half. Add balsamic vinegar and reduce by half. Add roasted chicken stock and reduce by half. Stir in butter, and let simmer for 1-2 minutes. Toss in the pasta and add olive oil, salt, pepper, grated cheese, and parsley. Buon Appetito!
~His experience and advice~
8. How long have you been a chef and where did you study?
Since 1985. I studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.
9. What education or experience would you recommend for aspiring chefs?
I highly recommend an apprentice program using the format I teach at Sheridan Technical Center. My students get hands on experience and learn a lot of different techniques and styles of the culinary profession and they practice what they learn. It is inexpensive, they build a good foundation with the basics and they also eat what is cooked getting exposure to casual and formal culinary styles. Experience is the best teacher and it is the little things that you pick up from being hands-on and experimental that theory cannot teach you which is what I try to impart to my students. Cooking schools are also another great choice as well because they also show you a wide variety of cooking techniques as well.
10. What would you recommend as far as on-the-job training?
Go to a Technical School first as it’s a short program and learn the basics and get your hands dirty as you are practicing what you are learning and see if you still want to be a chef after that. If you do, then go and work at a restaurant. I would not recommend working for a restaurant only as you will only learn one or two specific specialties depending on what the restaurant’s niche is. Learn to be a great manager because as you move up the career path, you will be dealing with many personalities in high pressure environments. As part of Sheridan Technical Center’s curriculum, I teach my students in 3 courses: food handling and servsafe practices, culinary nutrition and management. They spend 30 hours a term for each class.
11. Can you offer some advice for aspiring chefs?
Read and follow chefs who you can learn from and be your mentors.
When I was working at Max’s Grille in Boca Raton, Chef John Belleme asked “What I was doing outside of working” and I said “nothing.” He said “I should be bettering myself and reading all kinds of different materials and constantly learning so I can continue to be current and innovative.”
12. How do chefs use technology in their day to day operations?
I used a technology called Chef Tech where you plug in everything you bought plus the recipes you want to create and the it then calculates the yields and estimates of how many meals you can create as well as the food costs associated with it each meal.
~2014 and The Future~
13. What dining trends do you see taking place for 2014?
I see a lot of comfort foods coming back. A lot of Grilled Cheese places are popping up all over and Mac and Cheese is another favorite being served more in restaurants. People relate to these foods from when they were growing up and they want to continue enjoying them.
14. How has the revolution to eat healthy influenced you as a Chef? environmentally friendly?
I have always cooked healthy and like my meals to be light and fresh. At my last job at Bistro Mezzaluna, Fort Lauderdale, we had 10 pasta dishes on our menu and none of them were cream based but more olive oil based. At Sheridan Technical Center, we have a Chef’s Corner where 2 students get to try dishes that are healthy.
15. What do you think of “Green Kitchens?” Is it realistic to outfit your kitchens to be
To a certain degree. It is still hard to do and if you choose in going that direction, you have to be 100% committed. Wood Burning grills is a good example and is used in many places.