Niagara Gazette — Chef Bruce Bain may be specializing in French cuisine at North Tonawanda’s Webster’s Bistro, but that’s not the only global influence on the dishes he’s preparing at the eatery.
Bain joined Webster’s Bistro as head chef just weeks after the restaurant opened in April. Owner Barbara Hughes said it was initially the chef’s experience at high-profile restaurants that made him an attractive choice to head up her kitchen.
Bain has had some 35 years of culinary experience, including multiple stints at Buffalo’s Rue Franklin restaurant and training at the Culinary Institute of America, but his love of the cultivation and preparation of food began when he was just a child.
His grandfather, who was of Italian and French descent, was a professional chef at the Beechnut Hotel in the Mohawk Valley, and Bain said visiting him as a child was always a special treat.
”He always had a three-lot yard that was just filled with different produce,” Bain said, adding that his grandfather even hunted for his own meat at times. “So much of [what we ate] was made right out of his yard. I learned to like food that way.”
Bain was inspired by his grandfather’s love of horticulture, and at a young age had his own vegetable garden, from which he would provide his mother with produce for dinner.
Once he was a professional chef, Bain said he operated out of a greenhouse and provided produce to Western New York restaurants, particularly during the winter months when local produce was hard to come by. Hughes said she found it important to hire a chef at Webster’s Bistro who cooked seasonally, which Bain calls a “just plain smart” way to do things.
”His technique and style is such that it’s simplistic and he’s of the mind to use very natural and fresh ingredients,” Hughes said. “He uses a lot of very nice vegetables and fruits and nuts in our salads. It’s all built around seasonality.”