By now, we hope you’ve tried out the delicious food and drinks offered at Proost at Macatawa Legends. But have you met Brad, the new chef at Proost? We sat down with Chef Brad so we could get to know him and find out more about his vision for the restaurant. Check out what he had to say, and be sure to say “Hi” to Chef Brad if you see him around the clubhouse!
Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your background as a chef?
I started out when I was fifteen, and I’m thirty-seven now, so that’s something like twenty-two years. Out of all that time I think I took a year off to do something else, but I always went back to cooking. It’s kind of the only thing I knew how to do. I’m self-taught. I read a lot, but I don’t have any schooling; just the school of hard knocks, I guess. I used to work at a restaurant that changed the menu twice a day! I started out with a love of food and just trying different recipes out and tweaking them with what I already had in the house. I just took it from there, and then creativity kicked in and I stopped using the cookbooks. I have an artistic background—I love drawing and painting.
I started from the bottom, learning how to wash dishes, and then I worked under some guys who were real leaders in the kitchen. They had me do the prep, and when they saw I could do that I got to work on the line. When I was fifteen I thought that was the coolest thing you could do. I wanted to do that when I was a kid. Then right before I came to Proost, I worked with a friend of mine at the Itty Bitty Bar in Holland. I helped out with specials and did the more creative side.
What’s your philosophy about the food you make? How do you approach cooking creatively?
I like fresh food. It’s gotta be fresh and flavorful. I have a building block system I use to make something. I start off with my main ingredient and then add whatever matches well. Say I start with fennel and strawberries, and then I’ll go with whatever matches strawberries. Then I’ll add ginger, and it just goes from there.
I don’t really have a philosophy—I just make good food and try to be true to the ingredients. You could say that I cook New American cuisine, but that’s kind of a melting pot, not really one particular style of food. It can go from barbeque to Asian food. That’s where I’m at.
What will the menu be like at Proost? What will make eating at Proost a unique experience?
It’ll be an eclectic group of different menu items, from classic Dutch to down South. And I’d like to create some golf-inspired food. One idea I have is an Arnold Palmer vinaigrette for a salad.
It’s gonna be a lot different from what people are used to. It’s gonna be a lot fresher. I got all the hydrogenated oils out of the kitchen and cut out all the crap. I like healthy food. I’ll use butter and lard, natural things we’ve been using for thousands of years. I consider that healthy, but any processed foods I’ve gotten out. It’s going to be healthy and flavorful.
How will the drinks served at Proost harmonize with the food?
I’m planning to do pairings. We’ll have pairing dinners, or on a weekend I’ll have a whole menu based on bourbon. Wine pairings are also a big deal. I’m looking forward to doing things with drinks, including cocktails, that haven’t been done here before.
What kind of atmosphere do you want to create at Proost?
I like the atmosphere we have. We have a good group of people who work here. It’s fun, and I think people like that. I see it as a casual environment. I don’t want to make it too pretentious.
What kind of events will be held at Proost?
Themed dinners, sometimes involving cocktails. We’ve also been talking about having friendly competitions with two different menus, me and the sous chef battling it out. I think it would be kind of fun. I hope he beats me! And I’d like to invite some local chefs from around the area to do something like that, maybe an outdoor grilling night. More cocktail, bourbon, wine themed nights. And we’ll have seasonal and holiday events.
Why should people come to Proost?
We’ve got great food!