A TASTE OF SUCCESS
Since opening his restaurant, The Gray House, in 2012, HTC graduate Ian Gray has received accolades as a chef and restaurateur. The Gray House, located at 610 West Lake Street in Minneapolis, made the Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine 2013 list of Best Restaurants, and Chef Gray was named Upstart/Rising Star of the Year. Maybe part of that success has come his way because for Chef Gray, learning didn’t end when he graduated from the culinary arts program at HTC in 2005. What started at the college has continued in each stage of his career. But it wasn’t the career he planned for at first.
After graduating from St. Louis Park High School, Gray had planned on becoming a history teacher and he attended college in Nebraska. As he considered the future, though, he realized that wasn’t what he wanted after all. His brother, Andy, helped him research options for culinary training in the Twin Cities, and they found that HTC offered an affordable choice with a reputation for excellent training.
“At HTC you learn about all different aspects of the industry – from cooking to working the dining room,” emphasizes Gray, adding that he enjoyed the sense of camaraderie with fellow students. He stays in contact with a number of classmates.
After graduation from HTC, Gray worked at the Golden Valley Country Club for two years, where, he says, “The chefs took me under their wings, and I learned about all different kinds of food and a diversity of styles.” Next he joined Café Bar Lurcat, working his way up to sous chef. Gray then spent two years at Trattoria Tosca. “The hands-on experience was great, and I learned a lot from the owner on the business side,” Gray adds. At that point, he decided to explore the idea of opening his own place.
“I wanted to work for myself,” says Gray. “I wanted to make the decisions and I was ready to pay the consequences. I also wanted to pay workers a decent wage.” As Gray acknowledges, from paying invoices to handling insurance, there is much more to operating a restaurant than preparing food. However, that’s still the most interesting part.
When it comes to ideas for The Gray House menu, the chef says, “I think back to my childhood and what my grandma made.” The hallmark of The Gray House is its frequently changing menu, which emphasizes the freshest seasonal ingredients. “I want to make it approachable,” says Gray. “Nothing is off limits.”
What’s his favorite food? “I’m a big fan of Indian food, and also Thai food,” says Gray. “Really, I like lots of fresh vegetables and lots of heat.”
For people interested in beginning a career in the culinary industry, Gray advises that chefs take people more seriously if they have some training. He sees HTC as a great place to get started. “It’s affordable and the instructors are great,” explains Gray, “and I think you use the same books as they do at more expensive private culinary schools.”
For Chef Ian Gray, what began in the culinary arts program at HTC has led to a place as a Twin Cities restaurateur. He has plenty of ideas for the future, including dreaming about bringing to the area a concept similar to New York’s Dean & Deluca upscale grocery or Chelsea Market. That’s why this HTC graduate just keeps on learning.
Last updated by jhanson : 2016-08-01 12:42:28