Growing up outside San Francisco, with its farmers’ markets aplenty, Brad Parsons picked up an appreciation for food culture from an early age. Then, at age 9, Parsons ate at Alan Wong’s Restaurant on a family trip to Honolulu. This experience proved a formative one—Parsons began to cultivate a love for sushi and pan-Asian cuisine, and years later, he sought out Wong as a mentor.
Parsons earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Northern Arizona University, and after his first kitchen job, Parsons enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America. Upon graduation, Parsons scored a spot on the line at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Napa Valley. After a year, he decided to pursue his dream of working for Alan Wong, who proved difficult to secure as a mentor. Parsons bought a ticket to Honolulu and showed up at the famed chef’s restaurant with no promise of work. Parsons auditioned for a stage, and once he proved a willing student, the stage developed into employment. Parsons’ next move was to a legendary Chicago kitchen, where he was schooled in Rick Tramonto’s special brand of finesse at Tru.
As executive chef of Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, Parsons develops menus for the hotel’s restaurants: Aria Restaurant, Aria Bar and Sushi, and Eno Wine Room. He also manages high-volume local catering, banquets, and room service. His appreciation for Thai, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and South American cuisines inspires his global cuisine. His own blossoming advocacy of locally grown and seasonal ingredients has inspired Parsons to take his kitchen crew on field trips to the Green City Market, and together he and his team have started an herb garden on the roof of the hotel, just one of many green projects this prodigious chef is sure to undertake.