Maker Feature No. 005
At its core, Sozo is a brand that celebrates artists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and of course, makers. We do this by supporting their work and telling their stories through our SOZO Maker Features.
Brad Race, head of Culinary + Partner of Kind of One Concepts, sat down with us for an interview conducted by our team to discuss what being an American maker means to him. Read his full interview and shop his look below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a chef by trade. I’m from Long Island, NY. I never went to culinary school but I’m classically french trained.
I’ve worked at Oceana and Le Cirque, which are both French restaurants. I also spent time at Nobu which is Japanese and Peruvian. I worked for José Andrés for several years, so I have some Spanish influences with avant-garde and molecular gastronomy as well. But I’ve also had experience at high-volume restaurants like Catch LA.
Was cooking always your passion? If not, how did you come into it and at what age?
I went to school for business and economics. Out of college, I took a job on Wall Street as a bond trader. I enjoyed it but I didn’t see myself doing it forever—sitting in a cubicle, with a suit, and looking at a computer screen all day just wasn’t for me.
So, I took a summer off, needed to make some money, and took a job as a cook—I was hooked, from moment one.
My first restaurant was Oceana. It was a one Michelin star restaurant in NYC, and I knew nothing going in. They didn’t even really want to hire me. I agreed to work for free for the first month, and I was sponge. I just wanted to learn, because it was a kind of cooking that was far superior to anything I had done at home. After the first month, they finally put me on the payroll, and I worked my way up through all the stations. And from there, I never stopped. I just stayed at that level, and it’s been a passion of mine. I absolutely love cooking, and I love what I do.
How would you describe your overall cooking style / philosophy?
My style is globally inspired. I don’t like to be bound by cuisine. I’ve worked for a lot of great chefs, from a lot of different countries, with a lot of different styles.
So, I have a lot of influences that I can pull from, which has kind of molded me into the chef I am today. I love all cuisines, and I like to pull influences from all over the world. Therefore, my cuisine is not one style, it’s multiple styles.
As far as my philosophy, I like to say it’s four things:
Passion, come to work everyday with a love for what you do.
Consistency, I want people to be able to come experience the restaurant and my food and not only love it but come back and have as good of an experience, if not better, the next time they come.
Evolution, the ability to constantly evolve and get better. Whether it’s service, whether it’s dishes, there’s always room to grow.
And, the fourth would be discipline. I think passion, consistency, evolution, and discipline sum up mine and our philosophy here at The Last Page.
What is your daily routine? What do you do to stay motivated / inspired?
I meditate every morning. I think it’s really important to stay centered and grounded, especially in a high-stress environment. It helps me respond versus react in certain situations, which is…helpful.
I’m also big on daily to-do lists. Having that structure and that organization throughout the day really helps.
I love to travel. I recently got back from a trip to Spain and Portugal, which I’ve pulled a lot of influences from.
But inspiration can come from anywhere. You know, it can come from Instagram or something I ate the day before. So, always think creatively.
Walk us through your creative process when coming up with new items.
I’m a firm believer in collaboration. Whether I have an idea, or one of my chefs has an idea, I think six heads are better than one.
So, I’ll create a dish and then I’ll have everyone taste it and give their feedback. Or if one of my chefs comes to me and says, ‘hey chef, I have a really great idea for a dish.’ I’m like, ‘okay, let’s make it, let’s taste it, and we’ll go from there.’ We can tweak and evolve it, and by the time we’re done, it’s turned into a dish that we can all stand behind and that we all love.
Describe a moment when you failed. What did you do and what did you learn about yourself?
In the first portion of my career, I was a sous chef, a cook, I was this, I was that…but when I really became a chef was when I had my own restaurant. It was great but then it lasted about 4 years, and then me and my other partner kind of went our separate ways.
After which point, I took a job at this other restaurant that was opening and new and hot, but then that didn’t work out either.
Then I was unemployed for about 6 months. And, I was really just trying to figure out, what’s next? That was right before I moved to LA and became the executive chef at Catch.
So, that was really the most challenging time…when I took my first step forward as a chef, my first restaurant, and that didn’t really work out. Then I took another executive chef job, and that didn’t work out. It was like, “okay well, is it me? Or, is it just where I am?”
So, taking the time to figure out “this is what I want,” and that there are going to be times where it’s hard. It’s not all going to be great but just power through that. Just keep working for what you believe in and towards what you want and what your dreams are.
With SOZO’s mission to restore American craftsmanship, what does being an American maker mean to you?
For me, in this industry, being an American maker is creating something that I’m passionate about, mentoring others to be passionate about it as well, and building something great that people love. It’s also about creating an environment where the culture is great and there’s structure there, and everyone really enjoys what they do.