Kylie Sullivan here! I had the pleasure of speaking with Executive Chef Dennis Brunet. Chef Dennis has been involved in many successful restaurant openings, from intimate café settings to a full-service eat-in restaurant. His passion for food has led him all over the world including destinations such as Florida, California, Japan, and even Switzerland! Read the full Q&A below to learn more on Chef Dennis, including which prominent chef he shared a meal with in the 70’s!
Q: Chef Dennis, tell me a little about what you’re doing now in your career.
A: I’m the Executive Chef at Kelly’s Restaurant in New Hampshire, serving 500-600 customers on Friday and Saturday nights, and around 300 on the weekdays.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a chef? When did you realize?
A: My grandfather and my father were both chefs. I’ve been in the business a long time and have a 4-star rating at Cozy’s Culinary Cafe.
Q: What has been your proudest moment as a chef?
A: Probably owning my own business (Cozy’s Culinary Cafe). It started out very small, but we expanded over time.
Q: When you get time out of the kitchen, what do you like to spend your time doing? Hobbies?
A: I’m very into cars. Anything to do with cars.
Q: What advice would you give to future Chefs?
A: The business, from when I started to what it is now, is very different. Do whatever you have to do to survive. Some people come out of culinary and really don’t know what they’re doing. Get involved in mentorship programs. I’ve mentored a lot of people in a halfway house in Manchester. I’ve mentored a lot of young chefs. I really enjoy doing that.
Q: Who was the most influential person in your career?
A: I spent three and a half years in Switzerland training under Chef Jean Pierre Eighner. He would have to be the most influential person for me.
Q: Please describe the most challenging aspect of getting to where you are in your career today.
A: Trying to mentor people under certain circumstances, and keeping people from being flustered or crumbling under pressure. It’s a challenge every day to get them to the point that they can handle what they’re doing.
Q: Do you have any plans or dreams of retirement? What are they?
A: Not in the near future. I have a son who is handicapped so I’ll work as long as I possibly can for him.
Q: If you could dine with anyone once, who would that be?
A: I’ve dined with Julia Child back in the 70’s. It was at a very high-end Italian restaurant in Massachusetts, which has since shut down. She came in and the executive chef brought her through the kitchen so I was able to meet her.
Q: What is the best meal you have ever eaten?
A: Asian pork with peanut butter, coconut milk, and cilantro. I marinate it for a day and a half and then grill it off and make a sauce with the leftovers
“Back in 2001, the Union Leader Gourmet visited Brunet’s Cozy Culinary Cafe when it was located in Londonderry, calling it a “really great find.” The Gourmet enjoyed the spinach and feta triangles made with phyllo dough and filled with spinach, feta, seasonings, and a lemony flavor, as well as the Mexican lasagna featuring meat more flavorful than usual.” – Newhampshire.com