Sean Brock '00 of Husk, McCrady’s + Minero | Photo: Andrea Behrends
For Sean Brock '00, '14 Hon., being a chef is about learning every single minute of every day.
Early inspiration from Harold McGee’s “On Food & Cooking” sent him on a culinary journey from sci-fi food to kitchen systems. He talked to us about his evolution as a chef. Take it away, Sean!
“When I started at McCrady’s, my food was a lot more tech-driven. But food is about putting out a beautiful plate, not about flashy techniques. I know, because I got distracted by them as a student!
“The more knowledge you have about the science of cooking, the more control you can have over the final product. I wasn’t interested in science until I discovered that it helped me become a better chef.
“One time in class, the mayonnaise I was working on separated. Everyone laughed at me. I went back to my dorm room and picked up Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking.” As I read his explanation of mastering mayo, I started to visualize what I’d done wrong. I never broke a mayonnaise again.
“It’s the same with proteins. What makes a delicious and perfectly cooked steak? If you can see in your mind what the end product is, you can figure out how to achieve it.
It’s a never-ending journey. That’s why we’re chefs: because we love the process ... and the fact that we’re always learning.”
“For me, I’m never happy with any one dish or any piece of equipment — that mentality keeps me always learning and exploring.
“At my restaurant Husk, we have to execute at a consistent level, because we’re so busy. Science and technology help us run more efficiently. I document every system at every restaurant I visit, because there’s always someone who’s refined something in a way you’d never think of.
“I document everything. I have a pretty intense way of communicating when I’m on the road, writing everything down, even to the 10th of a gram. It’s all about systems.
“And once you create this kind of an environment, it’s a magnet that attracts like-minded chefs, and you strengthen one another.
“It’s a never-ending journey. That’s why we’re chefs: because we love the process, the discoveries along the way and the fact that we’re always learning.”
Go Behind the Scenes of “Mind of a Chef”