Adam Reed has had his fair share of exposure and experience in food, coming from a long line of French chefs and having held a number of varied positions (such as an apprentice at René Pujol's, and as sous chef at the Russian Tea Room, both in New York). He is also a culinary and business professor at The Art Institute of Charlotte. In 2001, Reed and his wife Veronica opened Santé (from the French toast meaning "to your health"), a French-American cuisine restaurant with an "eclectic menu" that is like a "dance around the globe," with influences from Asia to South America, says Reed.
Creative Loafing: Do you have a certain routine to creating dishes?
Adam Reed: There is a little bit of a routine involved. Sometimes you will find things that you just build off of. You'll find something, like figs are starting to come into season now, and I love to do balsamic glazed figs, so I will think of what I can incorporate that with. I try to find flavors that mingle together. As a chef, over time, you kind of know what flavors work well together, so you just start bringing components together to build a dish. I can kind of tell how a dish is going to come out and taste just from that mental process, before I've actually created it. I think it's just like any craft, your brain starts to develop to the point where you can know what the food is going to be before you start.
What about the restaurant lifestyle appealed to you?
I liked the lifestyle of being a chef. I wasn't interested in sitting in an office; I liked the fast-paced nature of the business. I'm one of those triple-A-personality kind of people, I like to keep moving, I like the intensity of the environment, so that part really drew me in. I also really enjoyed being able to create a dish, enjoy that dish, or share it with other people and get that instant satisfaction of having something that I created bringing pleasure to someone else.
Who has influenced you most?
In the beginning of my career, it was probably the influence of my family and my grandmother, who I spent a lot of time with, and who taught me a great deal, and for whom it was very important for me to demonstrate that I could do some of the things that she had taught me. Now, I don't have that; I don't have a mentor that I aspire to or who I consult or anything like that. If anything, I'm trying to inspire others now through teaching at The Art Institute. I feel like things have come full circle for me where people look for the opportunity to come work for me. There are other chefs in the community for whom I push myself to maintain a high level and standard of cuisine so I can get the respect of my peers in the community.