brad parsons, executive chef at the fairmont chicago, millennium park and aria restaurant, first joined the fairmont team as chef de cuisine at the acclaimed aria in 2004. since then, parsons has reinvented the cuisine at this luxury hotel with american comfort food inspired by flavors from around the world.
parson's goal at the Fairmont Chicago is to raise guests' expectations about hotel dining. "food is constantly changing and evolving," he explains, "and as a chef, you have to change with the times and learn about new products and ingredients. you have to constantly reinvent." parsons is always in search of what's new. when adding new dishes to the menu, he solicits input from his cooks, who have a variety of ethnic backgrounds - including thai, korean, south american and chinese - to give his menu an authentically global feel.
now responsible for a culinary staff of nearly 60, parsons feels strongly about empowering the people who work for him. during his tenure, parsons has hired and promoted nearly all of his key staff members. "if you don't hire and train the right people, you're not doing your job as a manager," parsons says. "i want my team to be able to make decisions without me and i value their feedback."
an advocate of locally grown and seasonal ingredients, parsons and his purchasing managers regularly visit local farmers markets - especially the chef's favorite green city market - for food served at the fairmont chicago, millennium park.
parsons earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management from northern arizona university, but fixed his sights on becoming a chef after taking a college culinary class. ater his first kitchen job preparing breakfasts in flagstaff, parsons received a degree from the culinary institute of america. despite the fact that he had never cooked in a professional kitchen until college, parsons quickly rose through the ranks in some of the country's best restaurants, including thomas keller's bouchon in napa valley, rick tramonto's tru in chicago and alan wong's restaurant in honolulu.
parsons currently lives in the taylor street neighborhood in Chicago with his wife and daughter.