This Q&A with Fern Street Wine Bar & Kitchen executive chef, Chris Healey, was conducted in April of 2019.
Where are you from originally? If not from South Florida, what brought you here?
I'm from Minneapolis, MN and came here during my youth as the result of a family move.
What do you like most about the West Palm Beach area?
Like most, I really enjoy the weather here in South Florida and as a chef I greatly appreciate the diversity and culture of West Palm Beach and South Florida.
When did your interest in cooking / culinary arts?
I was very interested at a young age because my father was also a chef!
Tell us more about your professional background.
My core jobs were Vic & Angelos, Big Time Restaurant Group and Regional. I spent 5 years away from fine dining to focus on casual craft and gastropub menus as well.
How would you describe your culinary style?
Everything from scratch with an emphasis on French and Italian techniques.
What items are you most excited about on the new menu?
I'm excited about all of it, of course, but if I had to answer I'd say the king crab salad, our craft pizzas with specialty dough from breads by Johnny, and our boneless half chicken.
How do you go about crafting & putting together a food menu / concept?
I take past experience and reading to put items together that fit the brand.
What was your favorite food growing up?
Are you a wine drinker? If so, what is your favorite wine we have available to our customers?
I am! My favorite wine currently set for the menu is Pinot Noir Estate Willamette Valley.
What is your go-to favorite secret ingredient/spice to use in dishes?
InkaSalt (really nice salt from South America)
What are you excited about in regard to taking on the executive chef role here at Fern Street?
Very much looking forward to the opportunity to create a new menu with local distributors and a farm to table concept.
Who are your idols / favorite role models in the culinary world?
Anthony Bourdain. Rest in peace.
How do you manage a busy kitchen effectively? What are your keys to leadership?
It's definitely important to stay calm and to keep your composure. I try to maintain a consistent tone when communicating with my team and try to show confidence in myself and my kitchen team.
What is your favorite thing to cook? What is your favorite thing to eat?
My favorite thing to cook is what I have not yet cooked.
What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?
Spend time with my kids!
A Farewell to Arms – by Ernest Hemingway