Interview with Chef Bryan Ogden of Bradley Ogden - Las Vegas, NV
Antoinette Bruno: Your father, Bradley Ogden, is credited with being a pioneer and an inspiration to many in the culinary field. Would you say that he was responsible for your interest in cooking at an early age?
Bryan Ogden: He would have to be. For as long as I can remember, I was going to farmers’ markets. I was learning how to cook at 7 or 8 years old, then training in wine, front-of-the-house and so on from there.
AB: Do you feel that attending The Culinary Institute of America helped developed your skills as a chef? Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring chefs today?
BO: Yes, it taught me discipline and fundamentals, and the need to focus on products and seasoning. I’d recommend culinary school.
AB: Can you talk about your experiences working with Charlie Trotter?
BO: From Charlie I learned about the whole dining experience – you must learn everything from the way you close the door to the way you represent the restaurant and respond to questions.
AB: At Bradley Ogden’s your philosophy is a daily changing seasonal menu that reflects a multi-generational interpretation of modern American cooking. How has this philosophy been received in an environment such as Las Vegas?
BO: I think very well. When we started we were doing complicated dishes. It wasn’t working as people wanted to get in and out. People don’t want ten minutes between courses. But we have been able to slow our diners down a bit.
AB: Are there any secret ingredients that you especially like?
BO: An underutilized ingredient is ice wine vinegar, also a late-harvest sauvignon vinegar. You need it for balance in your food. It’s very important to get barrel fermented vinegar.
AB: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool?
BO: The microplane – I love using zest in my food. It’s great for truffles, horseradish, wasabi and apple.
AB: Is there a culinary technique that you have either created or use in an unusual way?
BO: The way we handle herbs in the kitchen – 1) we use sharp knives; 2) we dry the herbs; 3) we cut it once, not chop, chop, chop. We always cut with the grain.
AB: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
BO: Why do you want to come to Bradley Ogden? If they don’t know about us or our food, the interview’s over. There are 25 cooks in our kitchen and only 2 are actually here for a paycheck. They live for and love food.
AB: What tips would you offer young chefs just getting started?
BO: Eat out and always order something you have never had. It’s the same for wine.
AB: What are your favorite cookbooks?
BO: Cookbooks from Spain. I have been reading a lot of them. But my favorite is Michael Bras’ cookbook.
AB: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
BO: Every year we take a trip to Spain and France for 8 days to just eat. Mugaritz, Arzak, El Bulli, Berasetegui, Troisgros, and Marc Veyrat are some of my favorites.
AB: What are your favorite restaurants in your city?
BO: Olives and Lotus of Siam
AB: What trends do you see emerging in the restaurant industry now?
BO: Everyone is jumping on the El Bulli bandwagon.
AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years to 10 years?
BO: Hopefully somewhere where I can do 60 covers or a laboratory restaurant within a restaurant.