Today on Foodie Friday, meet Bruce Moffett, owner of the Moffett Restaurant Group in Charlotte, North Carolina. A native of Barrington, Rhode Island, Moffett first tried his hand at Capitol Hill politics in DC before pursuing his passion, cooking. That led him to the Culinary Institute of America and then to Atlanta and Boston before settling in Charlotte. Moffett’s first restaurant, Barrington’s is part of the Moffett Restaurant Group. He was recognized for his work there by the James Beard Foundation when he was a Best Chef Southeast nominee in 2009.
The Moffett Restaurant Group was launched in 2013 and includes Barrington’s, Good Food on Montford and Stagioni. Chef recently released his first cookbook, Bruce Moffett Cooks: A New England Chef in a New South Kitchen, detailing the ways he combines his Rhode Island roots with Southern cuisine to create wonderful food.
What is your role in the food industry?
I’m a chef, restaurant owner, and cookbook author.
How did you first get involved in the food industry?
My friend at the time talked me into buying a pizza place we co-owned for about a year. We sold it and I realized I liked cooking more and went to culinary school.
What/who inspired your current role in the food industry?
My grandmother and mother both showed me the way. They loved to cook and were big inspirations for me. They always had gardens and picked from them, and they ultimately inspired my love of food.
If you had one message for people who don’t live and breathe food like we do, what would that message be?
I feel like food is very specific to every individual. What’s exciting and interesting to one person doesn’t have to be the same to another. Overall, I don’t feel it’s my place to judge what people find exciting, but I would say don’t limit yourself and don’t be afraid to try and do different things.
What food trends are most influential in what you do?
I’m not really all that influenced by trends. My biggest influence is using proper culinary technique to build flavors and create simple, well-executed food.
Tell us about an industry professional who influenced you most?
The industry pro who influenced me most would be the chef and owner, Seth Woods, of a restaurant I used to work at called Metropolis Café in Boston. He basically taught me how to simplify my food (there simply wasn’t enough equipment to get overly involved). He also taught me how to run a small, 40-seat restaurant.
Describe a food fad/trend you would love to start.
I would like to make sure customers enjoy themselves at dinner. I’d love for people to remember why they are going to restaurants, which to me is to enjoy the experience and food. Fads and trends change. I feel like if you’re more caught up in what’s trendy, you’re more likely to lose focus on what’s important.
What's your big splurge food item? Any particular brand you're willing to pay more for?
Shaved white truffles on fresh tagliatelle.
What do you view as your greatest achievement to-date as a food professional?
I would say successfully running maintaining four restaurants and producing my first cookbook.
What’s your favorite food to make at home?
What three foods/ingredients could you not live without? Why?
Garlic, olive oil, and salt. They are the basic building blocks of all delicious food!
Tell us about a memorable meal you’ve had.
My two managers and I went to the northern side of Barolo, Italy, to a small café and ordered tagliolini with shaved white truffles. The person who owned the restaurant shaved a generous amount of white truffles for us, we ate pasta, drank a beautiful Barolo, and enjoyed an amazing view of rolling vineyard hills.
Who in the food industry do you most admire? Why?
José Andrés. He’s created some of the best restaurants in the U.S. and he’s very socially conscious. His efforts to feed people during natural disasters in unparalleled.
What food or meal makes you happiest? Why?
I enjoy Japanese food; there’s something about a really good sushi bar with simple but well-executed fish and rice.
What cookbooks or cooking classes are most important to you? Why?
I really like “The Joy of Cooking.” It provides answers to all of the questions you have, and it includes all of the classics we try to recreate. It’s very intentional and great to use as a building block for cooking.
Tell us about your favorite vacation destination.
I’ve always enjoyed going to Italy. I find it so interesting the way they eat – how they go out, grab their food and throw it on a plate later that day.
Connect with Bruce:
Website: Moffett Restaurant Group