Mel Johnson Professional Employer Consultant and Contributor on the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Chef Bryan Ogden of Funky Chicken and Bradley’s Fine Diner. Bryan’s Father Bradley Ogden name arose as the executive chef at San Francisco’s renowned Campton Place Hotel. He was also awarded Best Chef California by the James Beard Foundation, one of the Great American Chefs by the International Wine and Food Society, winner of the Golden Plate Award by the American Academy of Achievement and Chef of the Year by the Culinary Institute of America.
Bryan followed his father’s footsteps and is now concerned one of the young top chef’s in the America. He opened Bradley Ogden restaurant at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas which lead to a James Beard Award for “Best New Restaurant in the Country” Bryan opened Apple Restaurant and Lounge in West Hollywood and partnered to create Munch Bar in Caesars Palace. Now Bryan has his eyes set on Houston
Bryan what is your background?
I grew up in the kitchen as a kid. I worked for my dad for basically baseball card money when I was 12 years old. I did that well into my teens then went to college and started eating out a lot. Wolfgang Puck was a family friend and I worked at his restaurant at the front of the house and fell in love with wine. So I call my dad and told him that I wanted to go to San Barbara and study wine and get into the wine business. He sent me to work with Michel Richard who is a James Beard award winning Chef and I went there thinking I was meeting with the manager but I was actually meeting with the Chef. He tells me I was going to be his Sous Chef. I went from front of the house to Sous Chef. From there I went to culinary school and worked under some amazing Chef’s
So, how did you make it to Houston?
Houston started when I was at a wine auction with friends who lived here and one was in commercial real estate, one owns a winery, and the other was a cardiologist in town and they told me I had to come to Houston and open a restaurant. First I was like no I have too much going on right now but they were being very persistent. One day they called me up and said we’re sending you a plane ticket and you’re coming to Houston. So they drove me around and I started to get the vibe of the city and see how everyone here eats out. Every restaurant we stopped at was packed for lunch and dinner so I called my dad and told him he has to come out here and check this out.
What do you think your impact has been on Houston so far?
I think with Funky Chicken it gives the community an outlet. You know somewhere that’s causal and anybody can eat there every day of the week if they wanted. You have to think, even though it’s fired chicken we use healthy ingredients. The chicken is never frozen or injected with growth hormones. It’s real food for real people that’s not going to hurt your pocketbook.
How was the process of opening a restaurant in Houston different than other markets?
In every city there is a community of Chefs, Managers, and Owners etc… So we introduce ourselves and ate out everywhere. In make those friendship we were able to ask questions like “who do we get this from?” Another thing is staffing in Houston. It’s a nightmare trying to get the right people in the correct positions but we were able to take our staff under our wings and teach them everything. They’re all champions and we treat our people well and treat them with respect. When our employees’ families come in to dine, we roll out the red carpet because we take pride in our team.
Who is your customer at Bradley Fine Diner?
There is a slight difference between BFD and Funky Chicken because of the price point but the same customer if that makes sense. Our customer is this community and we have a lot of families and kids that come to our restaurant. On day one when we open BFD a few weeks ago, we didn’t offer a kids menu but day two we realize we needed to offer a kids menu because there will be more kids dining than we expected. If you can make somebody’s children happy and content dining so the parents can have a nice meal and be comfortable, there’s a lot to be said for that.
Visit Bradley’s Fine Diner on 191 Heights Blvd Houston TX 77007
Or the Funky Chicken a few doors down at 181 Heights Blvd Houston TX 77007
More information about Chef Bryan Ogden and is father Bradley Ogden visit ogdenhospitality.com