Local restaurant owner tutors the next generation of chefs
By Paul Collins
It wasn’t all that long ago that chefs were found slaving away in the kitchen, out of sight and away from the diners. Well, as we all know, life is always evolving and constantly changing. The age of reality TV has created a new world where, in recent years, chefs have attained almost rock star-like status. While Bill Brady, a local chef who owns and operates the renowned Sonoma restaurant in Princeton, doesn’t consider himself to be in Mick Jagger’s league just yet, he is regarded as a star in the culinary world, being named chef of the year in 2012 by the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.
A resident of Leominster, Brady serves on the board of directors of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association and, among his many other affiliations, is actively involved in the American Culinary Foundation. This chef is indeed a very busy man. Since 2009, he has also been able to find the time to contribute his real-world skills and experience to nurturing the next generation of chefs by serving as a teacher on the staff of Worcester Technical High School. This school holds the lofty distinction of being the only high school in the nation to have President Barack Obama deliver the commencement address to its graduating class of 2014.
The culinary arts curriculum at Worcester Tech is designed to provide students with the skills required for college entry and career opportunities related to professional cooking. Asked about what he feels that he can bring to students, Brady said, “I think that I can offer them real life experiences. We are forever relating situations that have occurred at Sonoma to the classroom at Tech. The students are not just learning the theory of restaurants, they are learning about real life.”
He says that his deep love of his craft is what motivates him in the classroom. “Chefs are natural teachers, and we do it every day in the kitchen, and at Tech it is just a little bit more structured.”
As for what inspires him to teach, he said, “My inspiration comes from the kids. They love to challenge you on technique and on the reasons why things happen. It’s a great feeling when you see the students have that ‘aha’ moment. To see a child come into the kitchens, be dumbfounded and apprehensive at first, and then, in three short years, see that student full of confidence and knowledge; that’s what makes teaching so much fun.”
Brady said that he sees “working with the diverse student population and working with some of the finest chefs I have ever met” as being the best part of his role as a teacher at Worcester Tech. As for his own values and guiding principles, the veteran chef offers some words of wisdom: “Be true to yourself; don’t take the path of least resistance. Find something that you like to do and be the best at it.”
He also cautions aspiring chefs to not lose sight of the fact that, “You are only as good as your last meal.”
Very good advice, indeed, from a guy who has earned his culinary stripes.
To check out Brady’s restaurant, Sonoma, visit sonoma–princeton.com.
Paul Collins is a freelance writer from Southborough.