Interview with Chef Brad Farmerie of Public - New York, NY

April, 2005

StarChefs: Where were you born and how old are you?
Brad Farmerie: Indianapolis, 31.

SC: Why did you start cooking? Who or what inspired you to become a chef?
BF: I started cooking to pay for college. I took a year off and went to London and never came back. I grew up eating lots of vegetarian and middle-eastern foods.

SC: You studied at Le Cordon Bleu. How important is it for aspiring chefs today to get culinary school training? What did you learn in school that you might not get working in a kitchen?
BF: I don’t think it was that important for me. I’ve learned most of what I know from the chefs I’ve worked for. I’ve been very selective and it has paid off. But in school you learn a lot about health and safety and technical things.

SC: Who do you consider your mentors and what chefs do you consider your peers?
BF: Peter Gordon and Anna Hansen are my mentors. Miles Curby and Lindsey Schwab are my peers.

SC: What are the biggest differences in the restaurant scene in NY versus London?
BF: It’s much, much more tight knit in New York than London. New York is more collegial.

SC: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool?
BF: My Sous chef and my mortar and pestle: almost everything makes its way into it.

SC: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
BF: Hanoi and Bangkok. There’s just enough western influence to make it available, but they stick to their roots.

SC: What are your favorite food haunts in London?
BF: St. John: it’s always full of chefs. The Eagle.

SC: What are your favorite ingredients right now?
BF: Corriander and pumpkin seeds, pumpkin oil; Melons are showing up in all my food.

SC: What is your favorite cookbook?
BF: By far, David Thompson. The Sugar Club Cookbook is closest to my heart. Hugh Fernly Whittingstall, who’s an English writer.

SC: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
BF: Where are their favorite places to eat and what dishes do they like to eat there?

SC: What advice/tip do you have for culinary students or aspiring chefs just getting started?
BF: You need to find chefs that have an open mind, believe in what you’re doing and have a great personality because you’re going to spend 90 hours a week with them.

SC: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
BF: In New York working on another project.