CHEF ALEX HARRELL
Like so many other successful chefs, Alex Harrell did not start out to be in this business. He graduated college with a degree in biology, but found jobs few and far between in the sciences. But he always carried with him the memory and experience of cooking at home alongside his cardiologist father, who loved making fresh pastas and baking breads. “Cooking became his outlet during his time off,” Alex says, “and when I spent time with him, we were often cooking together.”
Alex started cooking for a living in 1998, and had the opportunity to work under locally beloved and nationally renowned New Orleans Chef Susan Spicer at Bayona for a year. He then worked in three restaurants under Chef Gerard Maras before moving to Charleston, South Carolina, in 2007 for three years. His chance to come back to New Orleans happened when Sylvain was conceived as the city’s first real gastropub.
“The gastropub idea is casual, but upscale, where you can get elevated bar food,” he says. “We’ve expanded on that idea now, and we view ourselves more as a contemporary American restaurant, but with a gastropub feeling.”
In the French Quarter, Alex has a dedicated mix of locals and tourists who crave his signature items, including a shaved Brussels sprouts salad, chicken liver crostini, braised beef cheeks, crispy pan-fried pork shoulder with grits and greens, house-made pappardelle and Bolognese, and the Chick Sylvain sandwich.
Meet the 2013 Chefs to Watch
by paul a. greenberg / photography by william dickey / photo styling by anna pollock