Culinary Feature of the Month – Meet Chef John Broulette
We are excited to feature the talented people behind the scenes – those who create and prepare the tasty treats that we all get to enjoy in our restaurants. Each month we will be introducing you to the gifted and passionate individuals who make up our culinary team. Bon Appétit!
In times when we are inundated with news about slow job growth rates, high unemployment rates, and salary/budget cuts, it is nice to know that sometimes, people still hear things like: “Get over here! I’m putting you to work!” That is exactly what happened to Chef John Broulette, when he lost his job, and was given an offer – or shall we say, a demand – from El Gaucho’s Executive Corporate Chef Ken Sharp, to join his team. John started as the El Gaucho Seattle’s Executive Chef in 2002, and later opened El Gaucho Bellevue as Executive Chef in 2008, where he remains today.
Ken and John had worked together previously at many Seattle institutions, starting at the classical French cuisine restaurant, Mirabeau, in the late 1970’s. When John left that restaurant in the early 80s, it was included in the top 100 national restaurants in gross sales – quite an amazing feat. In search of world travel and, ultimately, sunshine, John left Seattle and settled in St. Thomas, where he stayed for 7 years. He continued as a chef there, and even became the secretary of the US Virgin Islands Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. While the world was sunny and warm there, a hurricane named Hugo came along, and left in its wake no phone service for four months following. John decided it was time to move back to Seattle.
John connected with Ken once again, and together they opened Union Square Grill in 1990, John as Sous Chef, and later filling Ken’s shoes as Executive Chef. With the same company, John also served as head chef at Metropolitan Grill and Elliott’s Oyster House over the course of 12 years.
From an early age, John recalls loving to spend time in the kitchen and playing around with food. His mother permitted experimentation, as long as no food was wasted: if things didn’t turn out quite right, it all went on John’s plate. He didn’t mind, and he never minded doing the dishes, either. A mother’s dream, wouldn’t you say?
At home with his wife, teenage daughters, and stepson, a favorite dish is oven-fried chicken, or just about anything on the barbeque. John keeps his home stocked with coffee, different herbs, spices and seasonings, chicken (his favorite food), beef, and apples. When he’s not behind the grill, he enjoys teaching his daughters to become better golfers, and occasionally enjoys a round himself. When he wants to completely relax, his favorite place is near a bonfire on a beach on Orcas Island. His mantra, “When you find yourself a little behind, just move a little faster” is played out in his life over and over.