Chef from Brewery Gulch Inn, Executive Chef Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith, Executive Chef from Brewery Gulch Inn, shared his background, goals, and aspirations for his career with me recently.

I was hosted by Brewery Gulch Inn in the Spring of 2021. While another exceptional chef was at the helm during my visit, Executive Chef Stephen has continued some of the popular traditions and created exciting new ones of his own.

Executive Chef from Brewery Gulch Inn

Julie: How did you get into food service and cooking? What drew you to cooking?

Chef Stephen: My family has always cooked a lot. We are a big, multicultural family with a lot of interesting cuisines to play with. I can’t think of any one definite thing that really got me going in the world of cooking – it’s just always been a part of my life.

Background

Julie: What is your background?

Chef Stephen: I started at 14 years old in the kitchen at the Albion River Inn, washing dishes and helping with the line. [I’m self-taught.] Then, I studied at California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.

Julie: What did you do before becoming a chef? What outside skills do you bring to the kitchen?

Chef Stephen: Nothing. I’ve been cooking my whole life!

Career Highlights

  • Graduating from CCA
  • James Beard Foundation Award Winner
  • Taught cooking classes for 20 years

Stephen’s Career at Brewery Gulch Inn

Julie: How long have you been with Brewery Gulch Inn?

Chef Stephen: Started in June 2021, and very excited to join the team.

Julie: Why did you decide to join Brewery Gulch Inn?

Chef Stephen: The inn has a really great reputation, and I was looking for a more personal, intimate kind of place where I could be a little more creative and focus on the food.

Julie: What is your vision for Brewery Gulch Inn?

Chef Stephen: I’d just like to continue on the inn’s amazing food tradition and also bring some new perspective from my years of experience.

Challenges

Julie: What is hard about your job as Executive Chef from Brewery Gulch Inn?

Chef Stephen: Multi-tasking. No one thing in cooking is particularly hard, but when you try to do 10 things at once, it gets… complicated.

Julie:  What is easy about your job?

Chef Stephen:  When you’re organized and have good staff, things flow freely, and it’s a lot easier to let the creativity flow.

Julie:  What do you like best about it?

Chef Stephen:  The creative freedom.

Goals

Julie: What are you hoping to achieve personally?

Chef Stephen: My main goal is just to make people happy and share my culinary knowledge with folks. I love learning from other chefs and training up younger chefs to be the next generation.

Julie: What are your long-term objectives?

Chef Stephen: Prepare the next generation in the culinary world.

Julie: How has COVID-19 changed your plans?

Chef Stephen: Professionally, not much besides the inconveniences of social distancing, etc. Personally, it makes you sit back and think a little bit… It made me appreciate better what we used to take for granted.

Julie: What are you doing differently now that you will continue after the pandemic is tamed?

Chef Stephen: Nothing really.

New Techniques

Julie: Have you developed new techniques, new offerings that have received a good response?

Chef Stephen: It’s been nice utilizing my creativity and skill and developing fresh seasonal options. We have been getting great feedback on the Mendo Boxes.


See more photos of the Brewery Gulch Inn here.

Thank you, Executive Chef Stephen Smith, for sharing your time for this interview. I look forward to visiting Brewery Gulch Inn again.

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