and then deep fry it so it gets crispy.” The combination is then served on corn tortillas with pickled red onions. As he’s prepping the large dishes at lightning speed while patiently entertaining my barrage of questions, he takes a beat to sprinkle cheese over a wing special that just popped up on the line. “Today, our wing special has a honey sambal glaze, which is a little sweet, a little spicy. We use scallion cream cheese along with the ‘everything’ bagel spice from the bagel shop down the street.” Server Liz whizzes in to grab the plate and Brian returns to his myriad other tasks. Next up is dealing with what looks like a small mountain of fresh cauliflower. He tackles it head by head, with half of it destined to be roasted, pureed, and simmered with milk, cream, and butter before being pureed with even more butter to become the sauce for today’s flatbread. Topping the flatbread will be a mixture made from the other half of the cauliflower, along with caramelized onion, a balsamic reduction, and mozzarella cheese. “We change up our flatbreads all the time,” he tells me.
Topping the flatbread will be a mixture made from the other half of the cauliflower, along with caramelized onion, a balsamic reduction, and mozzarella cheese. Retrieving a giant four-gallon kettle, he moves on to prepping a Split Rail staple: their tomato basil soup. Top-quality canned tomatoes form the base, followed by bunches of fresh basil, and then a generous amount of butter. He often uses what he affectionately terms “an aggressive amount of butter — one recipe took four pounds.” After pureeing, everything goes onto the stove to simmer. Rustic style, the soup will cook for about an hour over low heat. Split Rail customers will often pair it with a grilled cheese for a popular lunch special. It’s easy to get caught up in the food while you’re sitting in a kitchen watching a chef work, but there’s much more to the man than the task at hand.
About the Chef... Brian started with Split Rail the month after they opened their doors in July of 2015, but it was a circuitous path that ultimately led him to this kitchen. He studied journalism for a bit at Temple University but wasn’t quite feeling it, so he started washing dishes at a steakhouse near his parents’ place. He loved the quick pace of the restaurant industry and worked his way up the ranks, eventually cooking for three years at Harvest Seasonal Grill — that is until one of the sous chefs there mentioned a new spot opening in West Chester. “I was ready for a change of scenery,” he recalls. Now 31, he’s a bit philosophical about the implications of his career. “Working in the restaurant industry ages you faster,” he observes. “I was surprised that things start to hurt at this age already.” He notes that the days of a chef are either really chaotic or really smooth. “That’s what I like about it. There is always something that will have to be solved. Coming into the busy season, once it gets rolling at dinner time, it just kind of
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