Some chefs prefer to showcase their culinary talents behind the walls of their kitchen and others thrive on interacting with their guests. And some chefs are just made for the spotlight.
Meet Chef Darian Bryan, 28. A charismatic local chef whose memorable smile seems made for the spotlight. Darian has worked in some of the best restaurants in Buffalo, written a healthy eating cookbook (Healthy at Home – 15 Fresh Recipes) catered meals for NFL players, currently works as the Executive Chef at Fisher Price and started his own fine dining pop-up. He’ll also be the featured chef in the Taste of Buffalo “Cook Along With” virtual series this summer. I caught up with Chef Darian recently to see what’s next for this talented chef.
Visit Buffalo Niagara: Thanks for chatting with us today. Let’s start with your journey to the 716. You’re a native of Jamaica, what brought you to Buffalo?
Chef Darian: My mother lived in California and my sister lived here in Buffalo. I knew I was coming to America but the question was which place? I grew up in hot weather and wanted to experience the snow. I chose Buffalo.
VBN: You’ve worked your way up the Buffalo culinary ladder from Denny’s to Hutch’s to your current position as the Executive Chef at Fisher Price. With all of that experience under your belt now, how would you describe Buffalo’s dining patrons?
Chef: No one loves food more than Buffalonians. These patrons are amazingly loyal, rain or shine, or Snovember, they always show up. I had a pop-up during a snow storm at a yoga studio this past winter and every single seat showed up. I love my people.
VBN: Tell us more about The Plating Society. Why did you start this program? After watching your video and seeing the menus, I want in! I’m sure the pandemic put a wrench in your plans so what’s next for The Plating Society?
Chef: Chefs are always stuck in the back of the house and never get to see the smiles we bring to people’s faces. I wanted to be a part of the party and get the credit I deserve. Plus, I want people to have an experience. When you go to dinner today, nine out of ten times you sit in silence on your phone. With The Plating Society, you get delicious food, an exciting experience, and a step back in time to the original dinner parties that were filled with conversation. The pandemic did stop us for a while but we are working on securing a more consistent pop-up shop. We will be at various locations selling take out dinners in more of an everyday cooking style. This will definitely include my Jamaican roots cooking. Watch for our Pop-up Jerk Hut!
VBN: What’s your signature dish or style of cooking?
Chef: My style is definitely more upscale fine dining, but I can do it all. My signature dish is my red wine braised short ribs, they literally melt in your mouth. Someone once told me they would even eat their own arm if it was in that sauce.
VBN: When people think of some of the top chefs in Buffalo names like Mike A., James Roberts, Steve and Ellen Gedra, Krista Van Wagner and Paul Jenkins come to mind. Diversity appears to be lacking. What does it mean to you personally being a person of color in the local culinary scene who is making a name for himself?
Chef: It’s a wonderful feeling to be a young black man coming from a little village in Jamaica with no running water or electricity to being one of the top chefs in the second largest city in New York. It wasn’t easy, I constantly received offers to cater for people for free because it would have been ‘good exposure for me.’ I had to work hard to get my following, and people who don’t know me still second guess what I do. Many chefs know they can cook delicious food, but not many have the courage to do what I do. Live cooking takes guts, making sure a difficult sauce doesn’t break in front of 50 people or the fear of burning or maybe even smoking out the place would make some chefs run. Not me, I am built for this and deserve to be at the top with the others regardless of my skin color.
VBN: Your smile and personality make it obvious that you love what you do. Why is that?
Chef: I love people and bringing them together over food. They make me smile so big when I see the joy I bring to their faces after they taste the food. It’s an amazing feeling, definitely an adrenaline rush. Plus, I have created my own look. If you see the fedora, you know it’s me cooking!