Pages Navigation Menu
Categories Navigation Menu

Q & A with Terrance Brennan

Terrance Brennan pioneered the European cheese course at his Upper West Side institution, Picholine, single-handedly priming the American palate for a future of cheese worship.  After laying the groundwork at this haute French Mediterranean, he aggressively furthered the fromagerie movement with French brasserie, Artisanal, a sanctuary for all cheese-laden dining endeavors.  Still, aside from his gossamer cheese menus, it’s his culinary talents that have gained him the most recognition, receiving three stars from The New York Times.  His decadent riff on Chicken Kiev manifests itself a corn flake-coated breast, tenderly cloaking a sublime foie gras filling.  He affectionately glazes squab with licorice and skillfully integrates gruyere cheese into a snail-studded risotto.  A restless chef, as so many tend to be, Terrance plans to expand his empire and launch Artisanal fromageries all over the country.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was really into sports growing up and had even aspired to be a professional football player, but by the 9th grade I knew I wanted to be a Chef. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to pursue that dream and make it a successful reality.

How did you get into food?
My father owned a restaurant. When I was 12 years old, I started working there weekends and summers. It was during my time there that I really began to learn more about food and take it seriously.

What was the impetus behind the redesign of Picholine?
I wanted a new design that bridged the gap between the formality of the previous look and my modern Mediterranean cuisine and I think the new décor truly accomplishes that.  I think people tend to shy away from change because of the risk involved, but I think change is good. I embrace it, and 13 years later I’m still trying to make the restaurant better.

What’s your favorite dish on Picholine’s menu?
Jamison Farm Lamb Three Ways with Bagna Cauda Potatoes and Fennel Remoulade

What’s your least favorite dish (and yes, you must pick one)?
I wouldn’t say I have a least favorite dish because if I did it
would not be on my menu, but if I had to pick it would be the Warm
Maine Lobster with Rhubarb, Chanterelles and Vanilla Brown Butter. That
is only because it’s been on the menu for years, but I keep it on
because people love it.

What are your favorite three cheeses?
My tastes constantly change, although right now I’m into Ossau Iraty, Comte and Bonne Bouche.

 What is your junk food of choice?
I love popcorn and Quality potato chips with sea salt & vinegar

Other than your own, what’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?
There really are just too many to choose from. My favorite restaurants change depending on what I’m in the mood for. I’m a pretty moody eater, but that is the great thing about New York. There is a restaurant to suit every mood!

What culinary trend do you most embrace?
At both my restaurants, I always use local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients as the foundation for any dish.

What trend do you wish would die already?
Molecular Cuisine; I know it serves a purpose in the world of innovative cuisine, but personally, it does not appeal to my senses. I like being able to distinguish what I’m eating.  Restaurants should be all about dining and enjoying real food.

What’s next on the horizon for you?  Any new ventures or restaurants in the works? Spill the beans…
I hope to open more Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro’s around the country.

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
**Don’t forget to subscribe for Restaurant Girl’s Weekly Newsletter**

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *