I’ve always had a deep fascination in the culinary arts, though I never expected to end up quite so influential in that rarefied field of human endeavor. My first serious foray into cooking was at my college in Cambridge where I took the job of assistant junior sous chef. I was soon promoted up through the ranks, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Describe a day in the life of Bryce Chartwell.
Usually I rise around six and jump straight onto a conference call with my UK team. This allows me to stay in touch with that evening’s menu, and intervene if anything appears doomed to failure. After a few laps in the pool I breakfast while perusing the day’s news on Zite, the BBC website and Country Life. The rest of my morning is typically employed in the kitchen at The Last Parsnip guiding, challenging and stretching my staff. I like to have a leisurely lunch, for at least two hours, which I find stimulates the creative juices to no end. I try to stay out of the restaurant for most of the afternoon – instead spending my time writing, conducting interviews and meeting with other influential people. By evening you’ll find me back in the restaurant – greeting guests, keeping my hand in on the more challenging dishes, and generally ensuring that we once again achieve cooking perfection. At the end of the day I’ll return home for a late supper with my family. I finish with a few minutes of Radio 4’s Today Programme, which usually settles me in nicely for a night of blissful sleep.
You’re quite the jetsetter. Where do you spend most of your time and which country are you in now?
I have restaurants in both the UK and the US – and like to spend some time at each during the year. I’m currently based in Seattle, managing the growth of our Bainbridge Island establishment. However, the sourcing of ultra-premium ingredients is critically important – and I like to stay hands on with our supplier relationships. These require frequent business trips to New York, San Francisco, Scandinavia, France, various rather ill-kept countries in Eastern Europe and the occasional journey to the Indian sub-continent. I’m currently typing this at 35,000 feet somewhere over the Massif Central.
We noticed you’re a fan of Zite (thank you!). Why do you use Zite?
In my position it’s important to appear more knowledgeable than my customers on all things related to cooking. Zite helps me to stay abreast of new developments in my field, and it also provides me with splendid information on any mishaps that my competitors may have experienced.
We heard that you have quite the set up for your Zite? What do you like to read?
I like to use Zite on my iPad 4 with its musk ox leather case. I follow gastronomy and the restaurant industry in general. Other interests include skeet shooting (or, as I would say “clay pigeon” shooting), foraging and truffle hunting. I find articles that explain the difficulties and occasional risks associated with extreme cooking to be particularly illuminating.
You and The Last Parsnip host quite a few special events. Any memorable moments? What are the best/worst dishes you’ve made?
The Chartwell Feast, an epic dining event spread over five full days of eating, always provides many memorable moments. However, under legal advice, I’m not at liberty to reveal any of the details.
My best dish may well be the bird-in-a-bird-in-a-bird-in-a-bird-in-a-bison that I made at last year’s Chartwell Feast. I like to think of it as the dish that keeps on giving.
My worst was possibly a soufflé that I presented at Davos a few years ago. I incorrectly read the mountain-top dining room’s altitude as being in yards rather than meters. Sadly, the incremental barometric pressure made a critical difference. Let that be a lesson to all burgeoning chefs.
What are some of your favorite sources of content that you read on Zite?
I appreciate reading content in Zite from its nose to its tail. In the nose, I’m partial to articles from Serious Eats, Saveur and Food 52. In the tail, I’m inclined towards any of the specialty offal blogs that are out there today.
Have you learned any cooking tips from Zite? What’s next for the “how-to’s” on your YouTube channel?
Surprisingly, I have to admit that, yes, I have. However I’m loathed to share them with you in this interview. If you are also of the gastronomical curiosity, take a look at my YouTube channel videos to learn a thing or two for yourself.
There are so many kitchen fundamentals that can benefit from a little attention to detail. Expect to see future episode covering the more common techniques such as grating, slicing, plucking and strangulation.
What’s next for you and The Last Parsnip?
We’ll continue to push the bounds of cooking – with more special events like our newly introduced dark dining program. Myself – I’ll be continuing to raise my profile in the US over the coming months. There’ll be more videos, podcasts and even a Kindle Single coming out shortly.
If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?
I assume that when you say “dead” that they would be alive once-again in this particular scenario. In which case I think Leonardo Da Vinci would be a fine guest for The Last Parsnip. I have always found his work to be both inspirational and ahead of its time – much like my own.