Q&A: Ralph Brennan chef talks NOLA, Gulf fish
Haley Bittermann always knew she’d be wearing white for her profession. But instead of finishing her pre-med studies she detoured to culinary school, ditching the hospital scrubs for the high white toques in the kitchens of New Orleans restaurants. By choosing spatulas over scalpels, Bittermann embarked on a career path with the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, and in 1997 she became the first woman in the company to hold an executive chef title when she took the helm of hotspot BACCO. She eventually redesigned the entire menu based on a trip she took to Italy with her husband, Russell.
Bittermann, who hails from Cincinnati, has been with the company for 17 years, spearheading the culinary vision as corporate executive chef for the past five years. She enjoys the competitive and collaborative spirit of the New Orleans dining scene and entered cooking competitions for the first time this year. Of course, she won her first, at the Greenville, S.C., Euphoria Festival, with her stirring rendition of Shrimp Gumbo and Sticky Barbeque Shrimp with Savory Blackened Hanger Steak and Warm Ginger Snap Bread Pudding. Sounds like a Bayou feast to die for!