When I showed up early for my interview with Haute Brats owner Chef Darryl Fuery, his hands still had remnants of flour from the dough machine. He was already at work.
Haute Brats, a takeout restaurant propelled by Fuery’s culinary training program, “Teaching N Training L3C,” soft-opened in late August of this year. The program was developed to coach and prepare unemployed young adults leaving the justice and foster care systems, as well as just generally disconnected young adults, for careers in the food service industry. Stressing the concept of “you are what you eat,” the program is modeled after balanced meals and the connection between food and body. In eight weeks, participants learn about basic knife skills, food storage and preparation, customer service, and much more. Whether a participant pursues a culinary career or leaves it as an interesting experience on their resume, they will have gained valuable skills and not depleted their time and money trying to figure out if it could be a good fit.
“Young people often go into a cooking career naively,” Fuery said. “They think it’s just all cooking. They don’t think about sanitation or other things you need to do to be successful, let alone all the time you’re on your feet day in, day out.”
The Haute Brats concept has slowly come together. Fuery applied for the City of Chicago Neighborhood Opportunity Fund in 2017 but was initially denied. In 2018, his application was accepted, though it took him a year and a half to find a location and secure funding for renovations. By then, the pandemic was in full force and the Fund put their projects on hold. Now, Haute Brats can finally move forward. Chef Fuery is looking for a corporate sponsor so that the training program can remain free.
Fuery is modest and uplifts his nonprofit and mission at every turn, but he admits cooking is in his blood. Though his dad was also a chef, he initially studied business and didn’t consider a culinary path until after his dad passed.
“I was kind of depressed, and I was thinking of him and my mom who were both great cooks, and I just wondered if I had any ability,” he said.
After taking an introductory cooking course in the early 1990s, his instructor encouraged him to attend the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (CHIC), which was affiliated with Le Cordon Bleu. Post-graduation, he worked for Aramark, Sodexo, and the Field Museum, among other jobs. In 2003, Teamwork Englewood asked him to speak to a group of students about cooking as a viable career path, and there his passion for mentoring was born.
The core Haute Brats menu is simple, but fun. Hot dogs and brats are their flagship items, but sides include crispy fries, elote cups, and mini sugar-coated donuts made fresh each day. The plan is to expand the “Haute” brand outside of brats, such as “Haute Vegan” and “Haute Jerk,” to other locations.
I was lucky enough to have Chef Fuery make me his signature Reuben Dawg, the 847 Jerk Chicken Sausage, an order of fries, and a generous serving of mini donuts. I’m usually not a fan of onions on a dog but in this case, my taste was wrong—the 847 was perfection. The Reuben Dawg had the classic flavor you would expect. The fries were fresh, and I’m not ashamed to admit I ate them all in one sitting. I decided to leave the donuts for dessert later that day. Though, as I stood up to shake his hand goodbye, he gave me a wry smile and said, “Well you’re not going to leave here without trying a donut, right?” With no more room in my stomach but all the eagerness of a kid with a sugar addiction, I took a blissful bite, and subsequently dropped crumbs all over my clothes.
I can’t faithfully say the same won’t happen to you if you visit Haute Brats, but it would all be worth it.
Haute Brats, 6239 S. Ashland Ave. Monday-Saturday 11am-7pm. (773) 424-4310. hautebrats.com