Culinary Q&A With Gregg Brackman
Photos by Anthony Tieuli
With seven years under his belt as executive chef and owner of G Bar and Kitchen in Swampscott, Gregg Brackman is certainly not the new kid on the block. With a loyal following, his intimate ocean-side gem has become a mainstay for patrons to enjoy fresh, innovative food that lends some adventure to the palate. The chef and I sat down recently to talk shop.
HC: What got you interested in cooking?
GB: I believe it was inside of me, a God-given gift. When I was young, I would watch Julia Child, Yan Can Cook, and Jacques Pepin on PBS before any food shows came on TV. I was just drawn to it. I lived with my mom, and she worked full-time. Maybe having to fend for us, I just loved experimenting with food. I think it is more an internal thing than an inspirational thing.
HC: What is your favorite comfort food, and what do you cook at home for your family?
GB: Personally, I like simple food. My family likes simple food, too. I love pasta. People have said our homemade gnocchi rivals those served at Hotel Cipriani in Italy. That was the first food my first-born ate. I really enjoy a good home-cooked turkey dinner, with mashed potatoes, cranberry, sour cream, and roasted brussel sprouts.
HC: You have cooked on a yacht, owned a catering company, worked at hotel restaurants, and been a wine representative. If you were to take off your chef’s hat and try something else professionally, what would it be?
GB: I would be a hockey coach in high school or at the collegiate level. I have played hockey my entire life, and love the sport. I still play two to three times a week.
Brackman's Hot Love Cauliflower
HC: Your menu is super eclectic; what are your top three favorites?
GB: Right now it’s the duck, the buffalo cauliflower, and the stuffed acorn squash. The squash is stuffed with wild Gulf shrimp, jumbo lump crabmeat, our own focaccia bread crumbs with three different herbs—chive, thyme, and basil—lemon, and roasted garlic. The sauce has sherry wine, butter, tomatoes, and crème fraîche.
HC: If you could invite any chef in the world to dine with you, who would it be?
GB: Both Jacques Pepin and Lidia Bastianich. They are just so true and passionate, simple in their own way. I am not interested in overly complicated—like science put into food, with foams and crazy techniques. I respect it but it’s not me. I like old-fashioned hearty food.
HC: Is kale overrated or here to stay, and what do you think will be the next food trend?
GB: I think kale is here to stay because it holds up very well in many different applications and it’s a super green. It’s so good for you. I do a pan-seared rainbow trout with an eggplant and cannellini hummus. When the fish is cooked, we plate it and finish it with sautéed kale and shallots with a little bit of Pinot Grigio. I think the next trend will be super casual; people want to eat real whole food, clean food.
HC: I know a lot of chefs have a ritual after a long shift. What is yours?
GB: I want to get home and see my family. I will try to run out of here as quickly as possible and hopefully someone’s awake, and I can kiss somebody. To get home when it’s quiet—that’s important.