Chef Brian Morris has spent most of his life cooking for family, friends, customers, and clients. Since culinary school, he’s worked at several New York City restaurants, has been a personal chef for celebrities like Derek Jeter, and has led cooking classes for both large and small audiences, including Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman.
But aside from his résumé, who is he? Here’s a little bit of what we learned ahead of his Taste of the Gate City cooking show on Nov. 6.
1. He grills in bad weather.
“For us in Nashville, even if it’s snowing outside, we’ll get out there and leverage the smoker, the grill. I remember Thanksgivings recently where it was snowing and cold, but all the guys were outside around the grill having fun, and it ended up being fun for everybody.”
2. He’s a self-described “super nerd.”
“I’m on a perpetual quest of learning. Things I’m super nerdy about outside everything I do at work are fly fishing and probably the most nerdy way you can pursue music possible, which is called ‘modular synthesis.’ So I make nerdy music and try to tie flies and fool fish with them. I’m also trying to learn Mandarin Chinese. Turns out they don’t have an alphabet. I’m a year in, so it’s getting easier, but I’m years away from being able to write it.”
3. One of his favorite places to cook is on a boat.
“I’ve [gotten] to do a decent amount of cooking in the Caribbean on sailboats. I don’t know if a kitchen can get much better than that in terms of the view. The gentle rocking — it’s like cooking in a crib. We cooked fish and lobster that we pulled out [of the water] and from guys in boats who are free diving for them.”
4. He survived culinary hazing.
“I think getting thrown out of kitchens is a rite of passage at some point. I interned at [former New York restaurant] Le Cirque during culinary school, and back then, it was an HR nightmare. I never went through a fraternity in college, but I went through about two years of [hazing] at Le Cirque until one day, the switch flipped, and it was over. I made a lot of mistakes back then because they turned the pressure gauge up so high to make you tough.”
5. He ruined Thanksgiving turkey at the in-laws’.
“It was Thanksgiving in Alabama with my wife’s extended family, and this was when I was working at Le Cirque, not long after culinary school. I was so proud of myself at that time, and I said, ‘I’ve got the turkey, y’all.’...We ended up getting there late, [and] I underestimated the amount of time I needed. I got a bigger one because it looked cool. It was one of those deals where everything else on the table was cold, [and] the turkey’s not done. I was carving stuff off the outside that was done just to put something on a plate.…I did not have it all figured out then, that’s for sure.”