Executive Chef Bryan Boessel walked into Bel Air’s One Eleven Main just four months after it opened in 2014, hoping for a job closer to his home. He’s since become a fixture there, using his classical background and local food connections to create a menu that’s both timely and timeless, making strides for the suburban restaurant scene.
What was your first job?
I’m from South Baltimore. I got my first job on my 16th birthday, as a dishwasher at Hull Street Blues Cafe in Locust Point. I worked my way up. After a couple of months, I started working brunch, flipping pancakes and French toast. I just went from there.
Are there any chefs in your family?
No, I’m the first one, although my daughters are already into cooking and baking. My 8-year-old asked for a mixer for Christmas.
How do they like One Eleven Main?
They love it here. We moved up to Bel Air four years ago. I have a wife, two daughters and a baby boy. When we first bought our house, that’s when I walked through this door looking for something closer to our new home.
So you just strolled in cold?
Yep. Everything happens for a reason — that’s why I’m here right now.
What did you bring to the table?
We had a new menu within a week. Business is really good. It started off slow, but we’re building steam. Our new customers are becoming our regular customers, which is the goal.
How would you classify your cooking?
New American with some classical French background. I like to lean toward that as a starting point in creating dishes. You still want to put something out there that the guests can relate to. You don’t want to give them something crazy over-the-top, but you still want to have that “wow” factor. I think that’s my style.
And the menu is ever-changing?
Every two to three weeks I try to change at least two or three dishes. The menu is constantly changing, based on what’s growing, what’s in season. A lot of my menus are actually based on the produce that we get. We have a lot of great connections, seafood-wise. A lot of our fish comes directly from the Gulf and the Chesapeake Bay. The owner, Richard Anderson, knows the people catching our fish by name.
You must have a solid team behind you.
They’re great. My sous chef, Colin Dixon, was my sous when I was executive chef at the Iron Bridge Wine Company in Columbia. He just came on board here in September. A few months ago we had a little getaway. We all went out on a rockfish charter. Some of the fish were brought back to the restaurant, so we got to cook and serve them. The biggest one was a 38-inch rockfish. We really got to create from start to finish.
What other seafood do you work with?
Maryland blue crabs when they’re in season. Most of our crab meat is hand-picked in house. It’s a lot of work, but the product is a lot better. This is the first place I’ve ever worked that does that. I also do gumbo quite a bit, using a stock that takes four days to make.
I bet people come back for that.
People come in and ask for it all the time. I got one guy that texts me asking when we’re going to have it. I recently shot him a text saying, “Hey, gumbo’s here,” and he was in the next day.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned while running the show?
I try to avoid trends. When I worked at the Milton Inn in Sparks — Brian Boston’s the chef there — I learned that trendy food comes and goes. Classic stays around forever.
Do you do anything to let off steam?
I play men’s ice hockey at Ice World in Abingdon. It helps me to cope with a busy, stressful, hectic schedule.