Although Adam Kube has been living in Boston since 2007, he hasn't lost his Midwestern twang. The 20-something chef and father of two spent time cooking his way up the ranks in Michigan, Miami, and right here in the Hub for The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common. We chatted with him as he embarks on his first executive chef role, at Seth Greenberg's new and expansive Bastille Kitchen, which opened, after much ado, July 28.
How did you get from the Midwest to Boston?
I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I started doing a vocational program [in high school], where I went for half the day to culinary arts courses. I got my associates degree from the Johnson & Wales in Miami. I started working with [The Ritz-Carlton] shortly after starting my freshman year [and saw] an opening in Boston at The Ritz-Carlton Boston Common. I applied for it, got the job, transferred up here.
What inspired you to become a chef?
Cooking with my grandmother and my aunts. I was always interested in being able to create something with my hands. I knew from a very, very young age that I want to be a chef. I took all the right steps to pursue my career. I started working as a dishwasher when I was 14. If on a busy night they needed help on a station I jumped in. The rest is history from that point.
Who is your culinary mentor?
Thomas Keller is someone I have looked to for inspiration. Anthony Bourdain. More on the molecular gastronomy aspect, Ferran Adrià and José Andrés.
What can one expect from a meal at Bastille Kitchen?
Bastille Kitchen is a place where you can go and it offers many different experiences. You can go after work for a quick drink and hang out at the bar or in one of the lounge areas. If you wanted to have a nice intimate dinner for two, you could have that. It’s a great place to catch up with friends and family hanging out at one of the larger tables. In the kitchen, I looked to some of the bistros in Paris and the brasseries, and tried to mimic what they do with their menus. But, I wanted to tie in all the great things that make New England what it is. I wanted to showcase local sustainable seafood. We’re also a block away from the Boston Tea Party Museum, so I’ve added some tea-infused items. A tea-smoked mussel, a tea-brined lamb shank that has been roasted to point where it is falling off the bone, and an Earl Grey crème caramel.
What is your favorite dish on the opening menu?
Pork-belly chicken-liver rillette stands out. The short-rib Wellington with foie gras torchon is another that turned out really well. But, I’m really happy with everything on the menu. The tea-smoked mussels are very unique. Smoking them for a minute or two with Earl Grey tea leaves and apple wood chips, and then throwing them into a hot sauté pan and sautéing them with a little white wine. The smokiness is subtle enough that you pick up all the great flavors that come with it.
Favorite meal in Boston?
At Eastern Standard, a good steak with some fries and a béarnaise sauce is very simple, but that kind of does it for me. I also order oysters. That’s one thing that I go to on a menu.
For your last meal, you’d eat … ?
It would definitely be steak. New York strip is one of my favorite cuts. A nice, seared piece of foie gras with fruit chutney on some toasted brioche. You can’t really beat that.
What do you do for fun in Boston when you’re not working?
When I’m not working, my home life can sometimes be a little bit busier than my work life. I have two children; my daughter is two, and I have a four-year-old son. I try to spend as much time with them as I can because when I am working full swing I have very few hours at home. But I enjoy going out to the park, playing with them. (Kube planned a kid-friendly itinerary for us, here.)
Do you travel often or make day trips?
Since my kids are old enough now, one thing I like to do is go to Salem, Mass. We also like to go up to Portland, Maine. You can’t beat the seafood in the New England area, so you have to get a lobster roll somewhere.
What is your dream destination?
I really want to go to Europe and do a week or two in a couple different countries. To Spain; there’s great food there. France. Italy. I would love to go to Turkey, too.
Where are you headed next?
I think if I’m really going to try to go on a vacation, I really want to try and make the Europe thing happen.