Asked to explain his philosophy of food, North Pond Cafe's new chef, Bruce Sherman, delivers a solid and self-assured summary: "I don't tend to overdo things; I like to think of my food as reflective of the ingredients themselves.
Who do you regard as your mentor, or the most influential Chef that you worked for?
Gabriel Bousquethe was my chef at the Paris Chamber of Commerce Cooking School. I went to the school after leaving India. This was the point here I finalized my 'culinary' training, in a formal format. Gabriel saw that I was serious and recognized my desire to learn the classic techniques. He took me under his wing and helped me refine my skills and fill in the blanks of my culinary knowledge.
What lessons of life did you learn whilst in India, and how do these effect what you do on a daily basis?
India helped me gain patients and perspective on life, those two things certainly come into play on a daily basis in the kitchen.
How has your traveling influence your cooking style?
India and France have both influenced my cooking style. France in an obvious way, I immersed my self in the French culinary scene during my time there. If I was not working in the kitchen I was dragging my wife and baby daughter around Paris to see the street markets or to visit a boulangerie or patisserie. This is additionally were I refined my techniques, so that shines through each day.
India influences in a different way. You lose the consumer mentality there. Seasonallity is not the base of a cooking style it is the way of life in every kitchen.
What suggestions would you give to a first time Executive Chef, using the lessons you learnt when taking over the kitchen of North Pond Cafe?
Have patients, do not try and change everything at once and don't fire five line employees on your first day.
Was there any aspect of the profession you wish you had had a better grasp of before you stepped in to this position? (Executive Chef)
Although I felt that as a chef the time was right for me, I would have liked to have had a better knowledge of wines and perhaps had a better understanding of the way the mind works (mentality). Those are things that come in time though.
Does your background in economics give you a financial edge in the kitchen.
In subtle ways; maximizing portability, marketing, disposable income - general economic notions.......
What are your plans for 2001?
Getting ready for the new restaurant that we are opening in the first quarter of 2002. It is going to be a predominantly seafood based menu, with the focus being on sustainable product. The restaurant will be here in Chicago with a 270° view of the city and harbor. Additionally I want to stabilize the kitchen of the N.P.C.
What is your ambition?
I am here professionally. I want to be able to juggle work and family life, become comfortable with them and enjoy both too.
A word of advice for the cooks of tomorrow?
Find a good fair chef to work for, then suck it up and do your time...