We thought it would be interesting to get up close and personal to some of our local Alpharetta Chefs, so we sat down with Chef Todd Hogan of Branch and Barrel to give us an insight into his life as Chef and successful restaurant owner.
1. Did you have any influencers growing up that got you into cooking? Parents / Grandparents?
I have had several very influential people in my life. My grandmother was an old southern cook and I was 7 when I would stand on an old fashion milk crate and help make biscuits. My Grandfather was an artist and his love of design worked hand in hand with making food not only taste good, but look amazing. Now my biggest influence in my cooking life is my wife and kids. When I write new menus and concepts, I always do it with my wife, Lauren. My Family inspires me to be more than a chef – they inspire me to find that balance between modern trends and old time family favorites. between great businessman to a great provider. As a chef in today’s restaurant world you are an artist, accountant, social worker, and teacher. Create beautiful food that taste great, and is cost effective. Leading multiple personalities to work together and dine together. Teach young hospitality professionals to be all of this rolled up into one.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or gadget?
My knives. I am an old-school chef. I use a traditional 8 inch chef’s knife, a boning knife, paring knife and tourney knife. If I can’t get the job done with those tools, it’s not meant to be!
3. You run 3 restaurants. How do you find time to balance work / family life?
All of my restaurant friends and regulars ask the question, How do I balance my time? I am in and out of every restaurant sometimes daily, but I concentrate specific shifts to each as well. The balance is in the life style. What I do is not a job and not a career, it is a lifestyle. Thank goodness my wife and children have cooperated living with this life for 18 plus years. A day in the life of Chef Todd is: Breakfast with the children, I make their lunch and then I take them to school. I do this almost every day. This is something My wife insisted on even when I would close the restaurant and get home at 1:30 in the morning. I am not joking when I say I have made 90 percent of my children’s breakfast and lunch since the time they started school. Our Family time is special and we make every moment count.
4. What is your guilty pleasure food?
I Love an amazing burger with fresh made ingredients.
5. What is your favorite dish at Branch and Barrel?
I have many favorite dishes at each of my three restaurants. At Branch & Barrel My favorite dish is the Burger! Fresh baked bun, bacon and onion marmalade topped with Smoked Goat Cheddar Cheese Wow! Now if you asked the guest? I believe they would all say the Brussels sprouts which are different at each restaurant so I want to challenge everyone to try them at each place and message me on their favorite one. My other restaurants are Branchwater and Indigo.
6. As a restaurant owner, what is the biggest challenge you face?
Patience in the learning curve. When I was first starting in the business working for chefs I was so anxious to be a rock star cook, but they were persistent in reminding me I had to walk before I run. I see the same characteristics in young cooks today. So in a phrase, be patient, and persistent and it will come!
7. What else would you like readers to know about you?
I LOVE music! in fact I got into this business because of music. I wanted to be in a rock band at age 14 and my dad said “that stuff is expensive! you’ll need to get a job to pay for it!” I am obviously a better cook than musician. I’m a guitar hack and I still Love it.
Alpharetta has become a true culinary destination with a variety of dining options to please every foodie’s palette. Be sure to visit Branch and Barrel, located in Avalon, and our many other chef-driven restaurants that you’ll Only Find in Alpharetta and start planning your Alpharetta bucket list!