If a meal reflects the chef’s personality, then the Bruce Tillinghast Star Chefs Dinner at Gracie’s will be warm and welcoming, like sitting down with an old friend. I met Chef Bruce at New Harvest Coffee Roasters recently to talk about the upcoming dinner and his philosophy on cooking. His appreciation for creativity and artistry both in food and in life is refreshing. Even after a lifetime of culinary experience, he is excited at the thought of a new cookbook, or when telling me about his own teachers.
Tillinghast grew up in a family that loved to cook, and his grandmother’s Griswold cast iron fry pan is still one of his favorite kitchen tools. Along with cooking, he says “color has always been an important element in my life, beginning with the big Crayola box that took the rainbow to new heights.” He attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where he received his BFA in Graphics in 1968.
From 1970- 1972, Tillinghast taught art in the Providence Public Schools, then moved to Lake Tahoe, working as a waiter and “tableside cook” at Harrah’s. In 1979, he attended the Modern Gourmet Cooking School, where Madeleine Kamman “opened the door to flavors for me and I found when cooking I think about putting flavor elements together the same way I think I have always thought about using color combinations.”
In 1990, Tillinghast and his late wife, Pat, opened New Rivers Restaurant. Local chefs often credit the couple for initiating the local and seasonal food movement in Providence, but he credits Kamman with the inspiration. “She taught us to use ingredients that grow together because they work together.” In truth, this is not a big leap from his appreciation of Bauhaus artist Josef Albers and his work with adjacent colors. “Whether dealing with food or color, there is always that delicate balance…and energy involved.”
This is the balance and energy we are excited to bring to Gracie’s on Monday, August 11, 2014. Chef Tillinghast will preside over a seated five-course tasting menu, with wine paired by The Savory Grape. This is also a rare opportunity to enjoy Chef Bruce’s menu; he sold New Rivers to a long-term employees Beau and Elizabeth Vestal in 2012.
Make your reservation by emailing Keira Langan at email@example.com, or by calling Gracie’s at (401) 272-7811.