At home with … Comme Ça chef Brian Howard
The man behind the brasserie shows us around his “other” kitchen
Wed, Sep 7, 2011 (6 p.m.)
Photo: Beverly Poppe
Brian Howard is an intense chef with intense talent. He’s a 10-year Vegas veteran, with loads of experience at Bouchon, Nu Sanctuary, CatHouse, Lutece and more. Today he calls the shots at the Cosmopolitan’s modern brasserie, Comme Ça. Howard admits he’s “married to the kitchen,” and unlike other pros, he finds time—or makes time—to cook at home.
COMFORT FOODAfter a week of crafting complex dishes for Strip diners, it’s all about family, friends and favorites when Howard finds a moment to relax. “Usually I take one day a week off, sometimes two if I’m lucky, and cook something pretty technical one of those days. Comfort food is what I like to cook at home. Last week I did coq au vin, so even though it was 110 degrees out, I’m making braised rooster. We like to have people over a lot, too, get some chef friends together and everyone makes a dish. Those are the times I really enjoy.”
- Comme Ça
- The Cosmoplitan
- Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
LADY’S CHOICE “I’ve been with my girlfriend for 10 years, so I should be married,” Howard says. “I get asked a lot what my personal favorite dish is, but it changes so often. She likes curries and things like that, but she’ll be very happy if I throw down some lobster. This time of the year when it’s hot, we shoot for refreshing. I like to do a lot of seafood, a lot of shellfish.”
CUTTING EDGE Howard uses Japanese-manufactured MAC knives because “they’re a comfortable weight and they stay sharp.” But for home slice-and-dice, he recommends a mandolin. “It’s one of the best tools in the kitchen, but one of the most dangerous. Every chef will cut themselves within three days of putting a fresh blade on it. But it’s pretty versatile. I don’t have an electric slicer at home, so it’s my go-to if I want to make a potato gratin, or maybe homemade potato chips, any kind of fresh vegetables.”
STOCK IT UP “Cooking at home is all about my pantry. It’s all about having that great olive oil, multiple vinegars, and tons of spices and seasonings.” Howard’s home pantry is insane, especially when it comes to hot sauce. There’s everything from sriracha, the chef’s staple, to his favorite hard-to-get brand, Marie Sharp’s from Belize. “I had to order a case of that stuff,” he says. “In my pantry, chances are if it’s at the restaurant, I’ve got it at home, too.”
MAD SCIENTIST Howard also suggests home cooks find a good pasta maker—“It’s just so easy and cheap and fast to make really good fresh pasta”—and pressure cooker to complete their kitchen gadgetry. But he has wilder ideas for his own headquarters. “I’ve always had this goal of having a lab at my house. I live in a townhouse now, so space is limited for that. But I eat, sleep and live food. I have notebooks next to my bed so I can write down ideas. My garage lab is not where I want it to be, but it’s a project.”