I have been watching the career of Chef Kevin Hickey for a while. At first I was surprised when I learned that he was leaving The Four Seasons hotel restaurant, The Allium, to start the low-key, belly-up-to-the bar joint, Bottlefork. Then I visited Bottlefork--packed to the gills on a week night at 9 p.m.--and realized he wasn't crazy. He was crazy like a fox.
"You want to do something that is accessible, something that can reach as many people as possible, " Hickey told me.
Chef Hickey isn't the only one to bring small farm-focused plates and gourmand combinations to a bar-type setting. Gastropubs and upscale, foodie bar food is increasingly common. But Hickey's culinary voice in this arena has been large and profound, offering things you've had before like you've never had them before. Take Octopus and Housemade Spam ($21) with Brussels Sprout "Kim Chee" and Sugar Snap Peas or Warm Pumpkin Cheesecake--more like warm soft-serve pudding--as examples of many.
And Hickey is serious about bringing accessible, high quality, creative food to as many people as possible. As Director of Food and Beverage for Rockit Ranch Productions, he just opened The Duck Inn, something near and dear to his heart, in Bridgeport. Hickey is from Bridgeport, and God knows Bridgeport is a food desert in desperate need of some foodie love.
At The Duck Inn, Hickey has, of course, duck dishes, like his award-winning Duck Hot Dog. However, he also has items like Braised Brisket from grass-fed Tallgrass Beef, intent on educating people from all over the city, not just downtown in posh hotels, about the kinds of foods we eat and how they are grown, raised and sourced.
In an interesting dialogue caught below on camera for the upcoming January 12th Dinner Party, Hickey speaks with Tallgrass Beef Rancher and Anchorman Bill Kurtis about the difference between corn-fed beef and grass-fed beef and the omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients that come from grass-fed beef. Who knew? Hickey has more than just great food up his sleeve.
Enjoy the videos below of Chef Kevin Hickey in his kitchen only days after the opening of The Duck Inn in Bridgeport. He makes Clam Stew with homemade Oyster Crackers and Braised Brisket from Tallgrass Beef in preparation for January 12.