Great Expectations – The Adelphi Hotel
Interview with Executive Chef, Braden Reardon
You have been watching.
You have been waiting.
Finally, the moment has arrived.
Following five years of intense renovations, the historic Adelphi Hotel is once again open for business. Located at 365 Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs, NY, the Adelphi has been incredibly restored as a full-service hotel with the welcome addition of a new restaurant (The Blue Hen) and lounge (Morrissey’s), adding a culinary twist to the long-awaited return of one of Saratoga’s most-loved landmarks. After years of wondering what restorations were happening behind the building’s closed doors, not only did we want to see the finished product, but we wanted to get a behind-the-scenes exclusive. When we found out that the executive chef of Salt & Char was to be at the helm of the new kitchen at The Adelphi, we conversed with the esteemed executive chef, Mr. Braden Reardon, to discover more.
Chef Braden: The restaurants are all unique to the Saratoga market and the mission of all of them is sustainability. We support local businesses and farmers and are unique at the same time. The Blue Hen and Morrissey’s are two smaller, more intimate concepts, each seating forty to fifty. The dishes will focus on seasonality and local produce. When you order four to five plates and begin to taste them, you are going to want to order more plates. Everything on the Morrissey’s menu is ranging from pizzas and flatbreads, with the focus on seasonality on everything to ten to twelve shared plates. Morrissey’s will introduce a robust, cool and unique raw bar feel to the lounge in the coming weeks, which will include items such as maki rolls and sashimi style dishes. The Blue Hen is unique and simplistic. There will be eight appetizers and eight entrees to start. For dessert, there will be a classic spin on French dessert style service. We will begin with three to four different cakes and tarts and will expand from there. We will also be introducing some fun mid courses as well. We will serve local game and foul and we use local farms. Expect dishes like duck foie gras terrine, a quail dish, and classic Italian like king crab ravioli; nothing too fussy or too pretentious. We want to make it fun and engaging. The focus will be for people to enjoy themselves. The Blue Hen will offer good, simple, classic service and locally sourced ingredients that are refined and elegant, but approachable and enjoyable.
Megan & Brittany: What was the thought process behind the design of the new kitchen and were you involved in the decision making?
Chef Braden: The design was a collective process with ownership. We went through three stages of the food and beverage program to decide what would be the best fit for the design. The Blue Hen was originally designed to be a bakery. We loved the concept of a retail bakery, but we wanted to be sure to keep the garden space that the Adelphi was so popular for and we also needed to support a large ballroom. Everyone has fond memories of The Adelphi so it was crucial for ownership to preserve the history of it. What a project. It was really a matter of keeping a nice balance of renovation, luxury, and reinventing what has always been a great property, especially in this community.
Megan & Brittany: What inspires you to create dishes for the menu and how important is the source of the ingredients?
Chef Braden: Source is everything. You are only as good as what you bring in. When I relocated up here from Manhattan, I worked on finding and building relationships with local farmers. When you get to work with craftsmen and women like that, it is kind of unbelievable because of the passion, love and time that they put into their product: you can really taste it. It shines right through on the plate. We are blessed to have such farmers, some growing exclusively for us. We locally source herbs, lettuce, and produce. We support the local farmers’ market. We use local honey and dairy. We are constantly building relationships. There does not need to be a lot of manipulation to the ingredients. We simply obtain a great product, respect it, and develop great flavors to showcase it.
Megan & Brittany: How long have you lived in Saratoga and what has been your best Saratoga experience so far?
Chef Braden: I have been in Saratoga for about sixteen months. I moved up to be the executive chef of Salt & Char. I have been involved in running The Adelphi and the commissary location down the block at 41 Washington where all the preparation occurs. We are a total scratch house from butcher to breads to pastry. It is exceptional. It is nice to have a facility to focus production and consistency. One of the best parts of this business is watching young culinarian eyes be opened during our R&D and training when they see how to cook better and plate better and see it all come together in a way they never imagined before. From the culinary standpoint, it is very interesting to have a system like that, especially in Saratoga. This is even a rarity in a major metropolitan area. Having it here is very unique and shows the support from ownership. My best experience in Saratoga is a conglomeration of a ton of things. I have met such wonderful people here – unique and inspired people. I have a great appreciation for the source of the ingredients and the farmers. Given the opportunity, I like to be able to walk a farm or forage for mushrooms to really appreciate where all the product comes from and the effort it takes to bring it to the table. I spent four years as an Alaskan fisherman and my college education is in marine biology and zoology. Understanding where your product comes from and being able to respect it and teach all the cooks and the front of the house staff as well, the level of respect that goes into everything, for me, is the most exciting part. I found that the products available in San Francisco were incredible year round. I have been in some of the best growing places in the world. I am now enjoying finding the amazing products available in the Adirondacks and Catskill area that definitely rival other areas I have been in. I wish the season were longer here!
Megan & Brittany: What is your favorite food and what do you cook at home?
Chef Braden: If I have time to cook at home, I find it very satisfying. My schedule does not often allow for that, working over one hundred hours a week. My favorite style of food and biggest inspiration in all of my years of cooking is Japanese. It is the cleanest. The way you feel after eating Japanese is satiated, but light. I also love classic French and Italian. I can gage a dish by seeing what my reaction is after the third bite. The first two bites are always good, but do I want more after the third bite? If I still want more, I have achieved something special. To me, cooking is very simple. If you can get five flavor profiles onto a plate, you will be successful; sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and texture. These elements always wow someone’s palate.
Megan & Brittany: You obviously love to cook. What are some of your other interests?
Chef Braden: I love travel, cultures and languages. I always like to learn more and pass it on. I have been working eighty to one hundred hours a week for the past fifteen years, but if I do get the opportunity, I enjoy getting outside, going for hikes, and anything adventurous. I always say I will try anything twice.
Megan & Brittany: Operating a bed & breakfast ourselves, we are invested in providing an enjoyable guest experience. What factors do you find important in achieving optimal guest satisfaction?
Chef Braden: It is important to manage both the external and internal culture. The environment created should produce happy employees, and in turn, hospitality is going to be contagious on the other side. It is all about exceeding expectations. Every aspect of the guest’s experience needs to be amazing. You need to be detail oriented across the board. You need to be able to offer the finest experience while at the same time, enjoy doing it. To obtain the ultimate successful outcome, the focus should be on providing the best hospitality, not on pressures and self-critique. This is even why some chefs are opting to give back their Michelin stars.
Megan & Brittany: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Chef Braden: We offer something that is really unique. I feel like I am blessed to be working for the best ownership I have ever worked for in all of my career. They support and recognize hard work. I am definitely trying to create something that is unique and inspiring that will continue push the envelope for the ultimate guest experience and for the staff. To encourage that kind of growth is amazing. I think that if you put the energy into it, then, you hopefully get it back.
Megan & Brittany: Thank you so much for spending time answering our questions. We are even more enthused about the opening of The Adelphi and its related entities after chatting with you! Congratulations, best of luck to your continued success, and thank you for sharing your gifts and talents with the Saratoga community and beyond!
A Chef’s Night Out
A special thank you to Adelphi Hotel Marketing Coordinator, Steven Bouchard, who graciously guided our tour of The Adelphi Hotel and afforded us the opportunity to take fabulous photos of the property.