Joshua (Josh) Brown, the new Executive Chef at Samuel Slater’s Restaurant in Webster, has deep roots in the Massachusetts restaurant scene, bringing more than two decades of dining experience to the picturesque Webster Lake property of Indian Ranch.
Former Executive Chef at Prezo Grille & Bar in Milford, Brown has been at Samuel Slater’s and Indian Ranch since August.
Originally from Natick, Brown grew up around food. His family owned a delicious kosher restaurant in Stoughton, and he shares fond memories of his grandmother’s cooking and cites them as the inspiration for his decision to become a chef.
He is a laid-back, hard-working chef who firmly believes in teamwork and being on the line in the restaurant’s kitchen. He couldn’t remember when he wasn’t passionate about cooking and didn’t smile when he said, “Did I want to try playing for the Boston Red Sox or become a chef? I think we know the answer.”
Brown first worked in a professional kitchen when he was 14 years old. After high school, he earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts and sciences from Massachusetts Bay Community College, and attended Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, where he earned his Professional Chef Certificate in Culinary Arts/Chef Training. His career path led him to jobs at Alta Strada, owned by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schlow; Chef and restaurateur Todd English Figs; The Barking Crab in Boston and Newport, where he was a culinary director; Banquet Chef at Harvard Law School.
He has also worked with Tony Bettencourt and Justin Melnick, former chefs at Tomasso Trattoria in Southboro. Brown was an executive chef at Tomasso under the original owners. He said his culinary mentor was Cliff Roy, who first worked with him at Tanglewood in Lenox. Roy is currently the Senior Director of Culinary and Marketing at Sodexo Waltham.
Brown first heard of the position at Samuel Slater’s while on the golf course at Cyprian Keyes Golf Club in Boylston. “This guy and I talked about food and restaurants,” he said. “After golf, we had a few beers and he told me about Samuel Slater’s and Indian Ranch and invited me for a ride.” The “man” is Josh Suprinant, director of hospitality at Samuel Slater’s. The rest is history.
Brown said Webster and Indian Ranch fit right in, providing him with an opportunity to establish his own culinary niche. Recently introduced a new friendly guest friendly menu. “Someone once told me my food is rustic chic,” Brown said. “I sometimes describe it the same way.”
The chef, who supports the farm-to-table movement, said diners today are looking for more variety and quality of food. He said COVID-19 forever changed the restaurant industry. “Package pick-up, drop-off and pick-up is definitely becoming more important to the owners and their customers.” Samuel Slater’s offers a seasonal pier-side food service.
From the raw restaurant bar to the menu and main stage openers, there is a variety. Sample: roast duck, portuguese steak, seared scallops, ribeye pie, southern fried chicken and the chef’s signature cioppino, spicy Italian seafood bisque. “Smokehouse” lists barbecue meat and chicken prepared on the restaurant’s outdoor smoker. Choose from Nashville, Opryland or Graceland, accompanied by sauces prepared on the job. B-Sides include smoked house baked beans, pickled chili peppers, and popular American comfort foods, which are also available as Tater Tochos, with house-made cheeseburgers, BBQ sauce, jalapenos and chives.
Other items: burgers, salads, and sandwiches, like Duck This Grilled Cheese (duck confit piled on grilled Hawaiian bread with cheddar cranberry sauce, caramelized onions, apple rings, and blue cheese aioli) and a few kids’ favorites.
Samuel Slater’s Restaurant, 200 Gore Road, Webster (www.samuelslaters.com) is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Reservations are recommended but walkers are welcome. The restaurant follows COVID protocols for guest safety. Tel: (508) 943-1639. Check social media as holidays will affect restaurant opening hours. The site lists several events for 2022 that include Elvis Presley’s birthday party with the Fellowship of the King scheduled for January 8. Recipes inspired by Elvis Presley on the menu?
Brown, 41, recently moved to Douglas to be closer to the restaurant. Earlier this month, he created a five-course menu for holiday wine dinners. Seafood, venison (osso buco) and seasonal vegetables paired perfectly with wine. The restaurant is looking forward to hosting a beer dinner with a local brewer in the new year.
Brown shared the award for Best Chef in Worcester, representing Prezo Grille & Bar in 2020. He won the 2015 Rhode Island Chowder Cook-Off Award and has New England Clam Chowda on Samuel Slater’s list.
Teaching is an essential part of Brown’s job and obviously something he loves to do. “As chefs we learn every day,” he said. In his LinkedIn introduction, Brown wrote, “You love what you do for a living, and never work a day in your life. I’ve been living my dream for 26 years and I still love what I do.”
His professional advice to culinary students and young chefs is to “Pursue the dream, not the money. Don’t stop learning.”
Wayland Winter Farmers Market opens January 8
The 2022 Wayland Winter Farmers Market opens at Russell’s Garden Center, 397 Boston Post Road, Wayland Jan. 8.
The Saturday market runs from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. until March 12. The Winter Market has increased the number of participating sellers this year to 50 each week. There will be 25 outdoor salesmen in the tents; 25 inside unheated greenhouses. Shoppers and sellers will be required to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required (but encouraged) for outdoor shopping. There will be outdoor seating if you want to enjoy a meal or a hot or cold drink. No eating or drinking inside. More market and supplier information is available in the Russell’s Garden e-newsletter. Visit www.russellsgardencenter.com.