10 Questions: Brandt Evans
Brandt Evans (left) with his Rockwall chef Scott Coffman
He refers to Blue Canyon Kitchen as his dream, an opportunity to create something distinctively American--a fusion of the country's traditions and regional flavors.
Before his Cleveland restaurant began raking in awards, Evans worked as Charlie Palmer's sous chef. Perhaps that's where he learned to ignore the city's 'mistake by the lake' reputation, put his head down and focus on stellar cuisine.
It worked. Three years ago he opened a second Blue Canyon in Montana. Since then, he's added two more, including the well-received Rockwall venue. And since he travels to Texas quite often these days, he has hopes for the Rangers...
1. Your cooking was once described as 'Ozark-Asian-Funk.' What the hell does that mean?
I can't believe that thing is still haunting me. That was back when I was a rebel. I think I still had eyebrow piercings. I didn't want to be classified, so when they asked me about my style I thought up something wild--and it went around the country. Here I am still defending it twelve years later. What I do is comfort food.
2. So what does comfort food mean?
To me, it's food that is not intimidating, not too progressive. I don't have to have all this fancy equipment in the kitchen.
3. A lot of people dream about starting a restaurant. How do you actually do it?
Tell those people to come and give me their money. I'll put them out of their misery. Really, they've been in dining rooms and think it's easy. The failure rate for restaurants is huge. The banks laugh at us when we ask for loans.
4. More importantly then, why do you start a restaurant?
I'm a firm believer that chefs aren't made, they're born. You have to be off your rocker. I can't tell you the last time I had dinner with my wife on a Friday night. But you know right away when you've done something right. It's instant gratification.
5. You have restaurants in Ohio, Montana and now Rockwall. You know, some people set up in, oh, Miami or San Diego or New York...
I guess I'm a bottom feeder. But I get to travel the country and really see people's tastes. And just because you don't live next to a skyscraper doesn't mean you don't appreciate good food.
6. Which of your restaurants do you like to visit the most?
This one [Rockwall]--and not because I'm talking to you. It's a big market and you have chefs here that I look up to. I can come in and work in the same city as them. And it's a transient city, with people from all over the country. If you do Maryland crab cakes, you better be spot on.
7. Which chefs do you admire?
Dean Fearing. I was reading about him when I was just a guy peeling garlic. The other day I went to Fearing's and Dean came out. It was like meeting one of my idols. I was very honored to be in his presence. Then there's Kent Rathbun, Stephan Pyles--it's a great city.
8. If you could work in any city...?
I'd have to say Dallas. I'm not done with my work here yet. And Atlanta. Those are my favorites.
9. Your Indians finally made it to a World Series after a few decades. Think the Cubs will ever get there?
Anything is possible.
10. How about the Rangers?
The Rangers have a chance if they...I don't have an answer to that. But if the Indians can do it, anybody can.
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