Hot Westport Restaurant, The Cottage, Expands- The Man Behind the Story - Westport Moms

brian_the-cottageHi Brian! If you are going out for dinner on a Saturday night- and not going to your locally owned restaurant, where do you most enjoy eating? 
I am a really big fan of Chef Mogan Anthony of Locali in New Canaan. He worked for me when he was just starting out in the business while I was the Executive Chef at The Bedford Post. Mogan has really become such a talented Chef, cooking soulful and simply delicious food with a great staff at Locali. He is growing his company in a really smart way and I love to support him. My wife Dana and I go for either date night or with our twin boys, Jude and Jax.
What’s your favorite single menu item at The Cottage? 
That’s a tough one!! It honestly changes – as I tend to change the menu to some degree almost daily. My perfect meal would be a half order of the Lobster Spaghetti with sea urchin, a mid course wagyu beef brisket steam bun, and finish off with Duck Fried Rice. If I have any room left, maybe the Pavlova with Meyer lemon and huckleberries for dessert!
We are very excited about the opening of the new expanded Cottage; any details on what it will be like? And if you had to share your vision for what a Thursday night looks like at the bigger spot, what do you walk in & see? 
The new space will have several high top tables, including a large communal table for 10-12 in the front and the main focus is the stunning long spacious marble bar. There will also be room to have a band come in and play on weekends for dinner or brunch. We would love to use the space for private events, pre-dinner drinks, and even just a girls night out. I would love nothing more than to walk into the new space at 7pm on a Thursday and see a group of 10 women eating ramen at the large table, celebrating someone’s birthday. Oh- and I’d love to host some guest bartending events; more to come on that soon!
What’s been the greatest challenge you’ve faced opening and running a restaurant in Westport? What’s been your greatest surprise?
Truth be told – of the many different restaurant opening and locations, The Cottage opening in Westport has been the very best, even despite all of the usual challenges with permits, etc., all went relatively smoothly. Our landlord has also been really great! Perhaps the greatest challenge also happens to be part of our success. The cozy size of the Cottage is a big hit with the guests, but presents a very, very tough set of logistical challenges for the whole team. They have all been amazing at making the space work and I am so delighted to have a much more efficient and organized work environment to provide our awesome staff with following our expansion!
The restaurant industry is hard, especially when you have a family. How have you managed to make it work- and work so well?
My wife Dana and I, like most, have very demanding careers. She is a Nurse Practitioner in Fairfield, so we both work a great deal and also work extra hard at carving out family time for our twin boys Jude and Jax, who are just shy of 3 years old. I always expected that being a Chef would make spending time with our children a challenge, but since I work nights it actually means I get the mornings to spend with them, and we have had the most special time together these first few years. Dana and our amazing Nanny, Elsa, also make it a point to bring the boys to the restaurant on a regular basis (they get lots of ice cream of course!) For my own sanity, I also try to get my CrossFit workout in as close to daily as possible; it’s my one release, and even if I bring the boys with me, it’s the best way for me to start any day.
If you are eating at home what is your go to meal to prepare for the kids?
Banana Pancakes for breakfast or really great porridge with oats and polenta sweetened with maple and ok, yes Nutella. Dinner is always our favorite roast chicken with garlic sesame broccoli.
What % of your meals do you eat at your restaurant?
I basically eat 75%. of my diet at the restaurant – always standing and on the go…. Very typical for a chef… Dana and I also try and have one date night out per week.
If you could be on one food network show, what would it be and which food network star would you say you are most like?
I am a big fan of Curtis Stone; we met last month on The Today Show for a segment on Thanksgiving and he is a really great guy. We definitely share a lot of the same culinary style and sensibilities. I would probably want to be part of either judging a show or being on Iron Chef.
What is the one utensil you cannot live without in your restaurant? Your house?
At the restaurant it would be my cast iron skillets which I make our Tarte Tatin in every day. At home that would be our Le Cruiset cookware for slow cooking.
Have you ever yelped before? How do you feel about it?
No I have never yelped before. Of the many platforms for online guest feedback, Yelp has always been the least detailed and least helpful from the perspective of my trying to gain constructive insight into how to keep making my business better.
Where do you like to travel? Do you feel traveling has influenced your cooking, and how so?
Traveling is absolutely one of my favorite ways to incorporate business and pleasure – as dining always seems to be the central theme. With a new restaurant and twin 3 year old boys, traveling locally seems to be our go-to for relaxation and new culinary discoveries. Most recently, my wife and I spent a good bit of time traveling to her home of Newfoundland and the food scene there is outstanding!! Chef Jeremy Charles of Raymonds and Merchant Tavern are terrific, and we also love Mallard Cottage, all in St. Johns. Our goals this year are to visit Austin, Charleston and Japan
Would you open another restaurant in the area? If so what type? We really hope so!!
I definitely have plans for another restaurant one day, but for now The Cottage and it’s newly expanded space are just perfect for me and my team, and as we have just completed our first year, we are really excited for a lot of new dishes and ideas that we have in store for Westport!! It is really important that I focus my daily attention to cooking my heart out at The Cottage. My love for Japanese culture and Cuisine will certainly have a great influence on my next project I think, but I also want to keep exploring the right extension of not just our cooking, but our awesome beverage and cocktail program as well……. so much to look forward to!!

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