Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef Chris Stam of db BISTRO MODERNE
Growing up between Boston and Martha's Vineyard, Chef Chris Stam's first exposure to the restaurant industry came through the family business. After high school, Chris pursued a culinary degree at Johnson & Wales in Providence. After gaining experience in hotel dining through internships with the Hilton group and fine dining establishments in Providence, Chef Chris decided to test his mettle oversees under Chef Graham Tinsley. Upon his return to Boston, Chris joined the kitchen at Barbara Lynch's upscale French and Italian outpost, No. 9 Park. Chris worked for the Jean Georges restaurant group for the next eight years, including spearheading the kitchen at Spice Market. Chris joined The Dinex Group in 2017 as the Executive Chef at DB Bistro Moderne. After years of Asian-inflected cooking, he embraces the roots of regional French cuisine, while retaining the freshness of the global kitchen.
Guests can look forward to an increased emphasis on seafood, as a tribute to both Chef Chris' New England roots and New York City's historic influence as the one of the world's greatest oyster towns.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Executive Chef Chris Stam about his career and db Bistro Moderne.
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
I first became interested in cooking, listening to my grandfather growing up. He would tell me stories about his restaurant on Martha's vineyard, and his time as a baker back in Europe. I've have always since then been drawn to it. On thanksgiving, 1999, I made part of the meal for my family. Ive been hooked ever since.
Who were some of your career mentors?
I have been so fortunate to have worked with so many talented chefs. From my early teachings given to me by Ming Tsai, to Barbara Lynch at no 9 park, Jean-Georges, and most recently Daniel Boulud. These great chefs have built such amazing restaurants, and really built a strong structure of learning, and professionalism which I will take with me always. I remember learning some of my core cooking skills that I teach young cooks today from Chef Patrick Campbell at no. 9 park. I will also never forget the times I spent with Chef Anthony Ricco at Spice Market. The life lessons, and teaching tips he gave me, really shaped who I am as a chef today, and the way I approach everything from menu and recipe development, to mentoring staff of my own. And of course my family.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
Before switching to French cuisine here at db bistro, I spent the better part of a decade doing southeast Asian food. The fast paced, seafood-centric cuisine really caught my eye, and greatly developed my senses of taste and smell. The bold flavors have permanently changed the way I season, and prepare food, and really pushed me to explore more. French cuisine was always my base, so it is great to see how now these methods can be applied classic bistro fare. A lot of bistro fare too is high in flavor, and ingredient focused. So the techniques I learned can be seen here on the menu.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
Technique and flavor driven food. I appreciate using proper technique, and bold ingredients to create dishes which are delicious, and memorable. We create an almost meat -like flavor using only mushrooms in our orecchiette with mushroom Bolognese, or our new Magret de canard a l 'orange which uses a ginger and orange glaze, to cut through the duck fat, and make a balanced dish.
What is your favorite meal or meals?
Lately, I have been enjoying simpler, more ingredient focused food. I have been eating a lot more vegetables, and like them simply prepared with citrus , and nice olive oil. For instance, mushrooms baked in aluminum foil, with a nice olive oil, a couple herbs, and one piece of cracked garlic. I cook them slow, and let all the moisture get drawn out and intensify. After cooking i sprinkle with a little lemon juice. Later I use the drawn out moisture, to make a sauce to pair with the rest of the meal.
Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.
We are a busy modern bistro, in the heart of the theater district. We take grate care in making sure our menu, and wine lists are full, without being overwhelming or ostentatious. We have something for all who would like to join us, and specialized in giving you the high quality meal you would expect from Daniel Boulud, while still being quick enough, for you to make your 7 pm curtain call.