Ralph Waldo Emerson once coined the truism, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Indeed, it is with this open and eager spirit that Chef Braggs approaches food and the kitchen. His warm energy and passion for cooking have allowed him to learn and teach in a variety of settings, and have provided him with the experience to thrive and contribute to any kitchen, catering company or restaurant.
At the age of 30, Chef Braggs has cooked in numerous Bay Area restaurants and is well versed in Italian, French, Caribbean, Latin, and California cuisine. His passionate relationship with food makes him an expert in the kitchen, and his charming charisma translates well in the social atmosphere of the catering world. Chef Braggs has been a creative force his whole life, and after exploring acting and fashion design, he eventually found his calling in the culinary arts. As with any art form, the artist is reflected in the work he creates. Truly, one can see and taste the comfort, pride, and fun with which Chef Braggs approaches every dish.
There are few professions that instantaneously and viscerally gratify others, but cooking is definitely one of those vocations. “I just love people’s reaction to good food,” shares Chef Braggs, “and that gratification drives me.” Braggs studied Hotel & Restaurant Management at Diablo Valley College. Then in 2005, after kneading dough and doing meat analysis, he was ready for his first job in the industry. “School taught me the basics, but I really started learning when I got a job. Everything got faster!” Since then, Chef Braggs has been expanding his palate and exploring cuisine all over the Bay Area, from Va De Vi Bistro in Walnut Creek to Bocanova in Oakland. Tack on the San Ramon Marriott and an extensive list of caterers, and you begin to get a feeling for Braggs’s breadth of experience and expertise.
Chef Braggs has mastered a variety of cooking styles, demonstrating particular excellence in Italian cuisine. His personal approach is to provide subtle twists to tried and true classics–focusing on taste rather than alters. Factor in his beautiful plating, quick work style and expert execution and you have a swift, detail-oriented culinary craftsman in the kitchen. However, Chef Braggs is also passionate about introducing others to the cooking. He has taught culinary arts classes at both Williams Sonoma and Rudsdale Academy, a continuation high school in East Oakland, CA. The dichotomy of instructing both the clientele of an upscale store like Williams Sonoma and at-risk urban students might offer a stark contrast, but Chef Braggs’s skill and charisma capture the attention of everyone and expose cooking as a universal joy.
His work at Rudsdale Academy has been particularly inspiring. In a learning community comprised mostly of students who were expelled from other schools, he’s created a culture of culinary respect and creativity. Even more importantly, he has introduced self-sufficiency, sustainability and cheap, healthy ingredients to a community plagued with health problems and fast food dependency. This is not just the work of a chef, it’s the work of a man who believes that we don’t cook just to eat; we cook to create, educate and build community.
2011, Lukas Brekke-Miesner