Chef Brian Paszko hails from Haverhill, MA in the North Shore. During high school, he worked with a local catering group, where he learned the art of scratch cooking. He fell in love with cooking, and found mentorship support from the head of the catering company, who encouraged him to apply to Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island. Brian studied at Johnson & Wales for four years and received a degree in Food Service Management. After graduation, Brian worked at Cook & Brown Public House in Providence, Rhode Island. Here, chef Nemo Bolin suggested to Brian that he move to San Francisco to gain more work experience. Brian moved out west, and ended up staying for more than five years. During his time out west, Brian only returned to New England twice because he was so immersed in  his life as a San Francisco chef. He lived in a little “garden apartment” (aka a basement) and had a blast. A highlight for Brian was working as the Chef de Partie for over a year at the Fifth Floor, which was run by David Bazirgan (who happened to be a Boston chef as well).  

For three months, Brian staged for free at a variety of restaurants, which turned out to be a pivotal time in his development as a chef and helped him gain insight into where he wanted to be. He staged at Manresa, Atelier Crenn, Quince, SPQR, and Saison. He found this time to be transformative–a moment when he gained more confidence in the kitchen, becoming a “geek for turnips,” and falling in love with seafood. After staging, for two-and-a-half-years, Brian was Sous Chef at Central Kitchen with his mentor, Thomas McNaughton of  Flour + Water. After Brian’s tenure there, he pivoted and came back to the northeast, where he opened MIDA as the Sous Chef and Cultivar as the Executive Sous Chef.

After one year at Cultivar, Brian was ready to expand his oeuvre and he began looking for a Chef de Cuisine position. He then connected with restaurateur Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli who was opening up Alcove in Lovejoy Wharf in downtown Boston. Brian began as Executive Sous Chef and then took over as Chef de Cuisine this past summer, where he has focused on bringing sustainable and farm-coast cuisine to Boston. 

 

By Marisa Olsen

 

What inspired you to become a chef? Can you tell us more about your journey?

The mentorship and connection of working with chefs always has had an important meaning to me. I grew up playing sports such as football, baseball, and wrestling, so the importance of  connection and working collectively has been a part of me. Like a sports team, working in a restaurant includes commaderadie and team building. I feel inspired in a team environment. 

 

Alcove recently celebrated its one year anniversary. Looking back on this past year, what was one of your most prized accomplishments? What was the biggest challenge?

I like the identity of the restaurant and the connection with food and service. The food at Alcove is created from scratch and we offer a full-service experience to our guests so we can cater to all of the vast needs. We can feed everyone and give an elevated experience at the same time. 

I have found that the biggest challenge can be being consistent to our consumers and their expectations. Some of our patrons come to the bar before a Bruins game and others come to sit for a multicourse meal with refined food. We are a large-volume restaurant; we can be fancy, but we can also maintain a clean and locally sourced food experience. 

 

What are you most excited about in terms of Alcove’s future?

I’m very excited to be able to push this sustainable model when it comes to food. I’m also extremely proud of the team I have built in the kitchen. I’ve helped fill the back of house with a new staff, and watching them grow and evolve has been so rewarding, especially as I now have the opportunity to be a mentor. I’m able to teach budding chefs how to break down a pig, which is actually rare in this industry. 

 

What is your favorite part about being a chef?

I love the various levels of  creativity in making food. I enjoy playing a role in the staffing and the challenge of operating a kitchen, and being a part of the many decisions it takes to run a large-volume kitchen.  

 

 

How would you describe your cooking style and the philosophy behind it? 

I tend to use singular ingredients and cook from scratch. I’m really into pickling, which is simply salt, water, and time. The Alcove pickle plate is popular and features seasonal ingredients from the past season. Right now the pickle plate has a pickled egg and some summer vegetables such as green tomatoes, cucumbers, and summer squash, and soon we will pivot into fall and wintery vegetables such as beets, turnips, and kale. This plate is simple but delicious.  We pickle everything separately then individually compose each plate from locally sourced farms and farmers that I have the opportunity to work with directly. 

 

What dishes are you most excited about or proud of at Alcove?

The pickle plate as I mentioned before. Where in Boston can you actually eat a pickled egg at a bar? It’s made in-house and absolutely delicious. I actually have customers tell me stories about how their grandmas used to make pickled eggs.

 

If money were not an issue,what would you do as a chef for a year?

I would like to explore my Eastern European roots. My grandma was from Poland and instilled the value of food and heritage. I would love to travel and spend time with my ancestors and learn more about my own heritage from that part of the world. 

 

What are the most misunderstood aspects about the job of a chef?

I find the chef-as-aggressor stereotype to be a bit overblown. I’ve found that very successful chefs do have not that attitude and tension that we can see in the media. 

 

Are there any  spices or ingredients that you use that might be little known to the rest of the world?

I like to use a lot of fresh herbs such as dill, garlic, mint, coriander, star anise, lemon juice. We make this delicious chicken that’s brined like Julia Child used to do. It’s an honest chicken that can come out in 10-12 minutes. 

We have fun using urfa pepper, a smokey, chocolatey pepper that hails from the Middle East near Turkey and  Kazakhstan. It’s found where the desert terrain turns into southern Russia and adds a nice flavor profile to the french fries. 

Who are some of your local purveyors? 

We work directly with a ton of local purveyors and farmers. For instance, just 20 miles away is Eva’s Garden, which grows beautiful biodynamic microgreens and pea greens, which we use year round. It’s been a rewarding challenge for me to figure out how to connect these amazing greens with our patrons who may be in for a beer before a game. Incorporating this ingredient into an approachable salad that can meet all of our customer needs is fruitful. It’s important for us to champion farmers, and I even have had the opportunity to  live on her farm for a few days, which was amazing.

I also work directly with our local Scituate lobsterman, Larry, the owner of Snappy’s Lobster. He’s up at 4 am catching fresh lobster and they’re in the restaurant by 10 am the same morning.  That’s super cool for a restaurant with 250 seats. 

I love working with Darrin Tupolo Farm from Dartmouth Mass, who provides us with lacto-fermented Macomber turnips that go along other seasonal vegetables on our pickle plate. 

 

What location in the world would you most like to work as a chef?

Eastern Europe as described above. 

 

What’s next for Brian Paszko?

I love opening restaurants and seeing them grow and develop; building a restaurant from scratch is  an opportunity to create a new ecosystem,. The psychology of a restaurant starts from the top down. If you want a restaurant that is forward-thinking and good-natured, it has to come from who is running the restaurant. For me, it’s important to create a unique and transparent place that celebrates the workers, the customers, and the local purveyors–even in a big style restaurant. 

Thank you Brian and all the best.

 

Welcome to Alcove
At Alcove, we believe that the most memorable days and nights are spent with friends, surrounded by great food and drink. That’s why we created a warm, neighborhood restaurant that serves as host to date nights, pre-game meetups, business lunches and convivial dinner parties. Just as we hope you’ll surround yourself with friends & family when dining at Alcove, we’ve done the same with our menu, finding inspiration from the purveyors we personally know and the ingredients that tell a story. Whether you dine with us once a lifetime or once a week, we aspire to make each and every visit memorable.
Enjoy the simple pleasure of dining out.

Do you want to join our team? Simple get in contact with us: info@alcoveboston.com

You are in Boston to visit; then come by and visit us, we are looking forward to welcoming you as our guest. https://alcoveboston.com/