Chef Josh Brownell – Grille 39
If you’ve never thought about pulling into a upscale hotel to satisfy those taste buds, Grille 39 at The Renaissance Indianapolis North Hotel will change your mind. It has a relaxing, casual, fine-dining ambiance, perfect for dinner but upbeat enough to sit and eat mid-day while you’re plugging away at work.
Their new Sous Chef, Josh Brownell, has as many layers as the food he inventively creates in addition to an impressive culinary background. Even more intriguing is his degree in psychology, which one could say he uses to tantalize the taste bud’s signals to the brain. Get to know this chef and his food:
Q and A with Josh:
Define your food for us.
Well, it’s Contemporary American Cuisine. I believe in old-style recipe techniques and putting a contemporary spin on them. I like to stay close to culinary traditions, while breaking some rules while at it.
You seem to have a “can-do-anything” attitude. How do you think this translates to your food?
In addition to executing our staple A la Carte menu, I am in charge of creating the weekly special. I like to experiment, see how I can push food past its limits, and add to the diner’s culinary experience.
When creating each week’s feature dish, how do you decide if it’s a winner?
We play in the kitchen! I like to demonstrate teamwork by brainstorming with the other cooks. Our passion for local ingredients drives our imagination and creativity, so by the time the plate gets to you, we present the best combination of flavors possible on a plate.
So what inspires your cooking?
The history and culture around food. Food is the most important element in understanding our history and culture, as well as the most important component defining our future.
Hoosiers should eat more ______ .
Corn. We’re from Indiana. Eat local.
What’s your favorite thing to cook, and is that your favorite thing to eat?
My favorite way to cook is by aging things. I like to recreate Asian dishes by fermenting soy and also anything that involves slow-braising. I like the challenge of building a big flavor profile without using butter, MSG, etc. As far as favorite vegetable to work with, it would have to be fennel. I love what you can do with it…it’s crisp acidity and anise flavor.
If there was one word you’d want to come to people’s mind when they try your food, what would it be?
Intimate. Dining is intimate, and personal. Food that you choose to eat should slowly lure you and transport you somewhere else. When you find the right combination of ingredients, that’s how it should feel…personalized and intimate.
How do you chill out after a long day at Grille 39?
I like to hang out at home, do construction on the side. Oh, I also collect old world wines. And yes, I do cook at home often!
Okay, so tell us what each type of diner should try:
The First-Timer: Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes. I know every restaurant probably says that, but ours are truly out of this world.
The Adventurer: Order the Special. It is guaranteed to challenge the taste buds.
The Old Faithful: Oscar Steak
The Vegetarian: Roasted Vegetable Napoleon