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Eye On The Prize 

Perseverence pays off for local chef

Bruce Moffett is right where he wants to be. And if that isn't success, then who knows what's the true definition?

Moffett is now the Executive Chef and owner of Barrington's Restaurant, but his longtime goal of one day owning a restaurant kept him going when the times got tough.

Originally from Barrington, RI, Moffett graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in political science. After working for two senators and the International Dairy Food Association, spending time in Los Angeles, and surviving one bad experience at a public relations job in D.C., Moffett finally found his way to Charlotte.

Moffett and a college friend (who had lived in Charlotte) had talked about opening a business together one day, so Moffett's desire to leave public relations led him here in search of opportunities.

"We ended up buying a pizza place," he explains. "It was called Pizza Villa. That was 11 or 12 years ago -- it worked out alright but we didn't really make any money on it, so we sold the place. He went into Real Estate and I decided I liked cooking, so I decided to go to cooking school."

Moffett attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He recalls one of his greatest memories from his internship at the restaurant An American Place. "One night, we did a white truffle dinner, and we had Larry Forgione, Wolfgang Puck and Jonathon Waxman there," he relates. "Wolfgang Puck looked at the white truffles that Larry Forgione brought in and said, "What are these?' Larry said they were from Oregon, and Wolfgang said, "We can't use these,' and he gets Daniel Beaulieu on the phone. And all of a sudden, this kid comes running in with all these big white truffles at like $1,500 a pound. It was crazy."

From New York, Moffett went to Atlanta and worked for Cherokee Town & Country Club, where he started at the bottom as a line cook. After two years in Atlanta, he spent the next four in Boston; there, he worked for Frank McClelland, the Executive Chef at L'Espalier, whom he attributes with much of his culinary inspiration.

Moffett truly learned the ropes of the restaurant business while working in the small restaurant Metropolis Cafe, where he stayed for 2-1/2 years as a line cook, then sous chef, and finally executive chef. "It was a crazy experience because the two owners were in the process of getting a divorce and neither one wanted anything to do with the restaurant. People kept quitting and I kept getting promoted. Basically though, I learned how to run a restaurant from that experience -- from moving up in a very short amount of time."

Above all, Moffett stresses the importance of not taking the easy way out when trying to learn the restaurant business. "It's a matter of believing in yourself and saying, alright, if I take the harder road, it will ultimately lead me to where I want to go."

Every so often, Moffett takes a moment to let his restaurant's four-year reign sink in.

"Every year, if it gets a little slow one night or two, I tell my staff, this may be the year we may not make it. Then about every four or five months, I'll be in the kitchen one night and I'll look into the restaurant. And [I'll see that] my staff will be doing great and the dining room will be full. Then that sense of success hits me and it's great."

Barrington's Restaurant is located at 7822 Fairview Road in the Foxcroft Shopping Center. Hours are 5:30pm until 10pm Monday through Thursday, and 5:30pm until 11pm Friday and Saturday. 704-364-5755.

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