In Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook, Mr. Brennan equally credits Executive Vice President Charlee Williamson and Executive Chef Haley Bitterman (née Gabel) of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group with moving the cookbook forward. He states on page 16 that, "It has been exciting to watch the two of them grow over our many years of working together."
According to the Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook website, Chef Haley first met Ralph Brennan at Mr. B's Bistro during her externship for the Culinary Arts Academy of Cincinnati. After her 1990 graduation, she returned to Mr. B's and served her apprenticeship under Gerard Maras where she was influenced by Maras' use of the freshest and finest of regional and local ingredients. The website identifies Haley as a trend-setter:
"In 1993, Haley was the first woman to be named Executive Chef of a Brennan Family (of Commander’s Palace Fame) kitchen when she was named Executive Chef of BACCO, Ralph Brennan’s Creole Italian restaurant adjacent to the W Hotel in the French Quarter. "Haley's combined talent, personality, and genuine love of food contributed to her early success at BACCO and her continued success today", says Ralph Brennan."Her profile at the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group site states that she became Corporate Executive Chef in 2000 and she has also served as Director of Operations since June 2005. Among her many accomplishments, she appeared on John Schoup's Great Chefs of the New Guard television series as well as being a featured chef in the accompanying book.
Not only is Executive Chef Haley Bitterman an award-winning chef, she has also represented Louisiana and New Orleans culinary traditions on the world stage. She has prepared dishes for the United States Ambassador to Canada's residence in Ottawa as well as at the Montreal Highlights Festival, which features chefs from around the world preparing indigenous recipes. While she has worked her magic for two presidents, President Bill Clinton at a private home reception in New Orleans and President George W. Bush at Bacco's post-Katrina, she most recently prepared a luncheon for First Lady Laura Bush at Ralph's on the Park.
Her adventurous culinary side led her to support the move to eliminate trans fat from the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group's chain of restaurants, stating that, "As people are becoming more aware of trans fat and are now reading their labels in the grocery store, we wanted to lead the way in bringing a healthier menu to our customers."
SOURCE: "Chef Haley Bitterman" 2008
SOURCE: "Our Team: Haley Gabel"
SOURCE: "First Lady Visits Ralph's on the Park" 03/12/08
SOURCE: "Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group Eliminates Trans Fat" 05/16/07
Photo by Kerri McCaffety. Copyright by The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.