By Amy Nicole Tangel
Overcoming adversity has been a silver lining of hope throughout the pandemic, and for many in the restaurant industry who have been in the midst of having their careers brought to a halt, it has now become a time to rise to new beginnings for one renowned chef.
Long Island native and Reality TV Chef Barret Beyer made his mark on television appearing on Season 11 of “Hell’s Kitchen” with Gordon Ramsay, continuing on to other notable shows such as Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” Season 6 and “Kitchen Casino.” Barret has also appeared on VH1’s “Mob Wives” and FYI Network’s “Midnight Feast.” This is the surface work to the real heart of a chef who has built a culinary career based upon a deep-rooted passion for cooking.
Prior to Covid, Barret was most recently living his life as head chef of Tiltz Sports Bar in Brooklyn, N.Y. The restaurant and bar drew in a successful following with their classic arcade games, outdoor seating events; primarily known for it’s showing of UFC and MMA fights, and the arcade-themed dishes. But Barret said between Covid and a failing partnership, he knew it was time when he closed the doors in October 2020 and began moving on to a new chapter; taking on a new culinary venture and relocating to Florida.
“I love the energy in Florida; I love the sunlight in Florida,” he said.
With more opportunities for people working in the restaurant and entertainment industries becoming available in Florida, performers and chefs alike are embracing and gravitating from New York to where the work lies. Barret said this was not an easy decision for him, having grown up in Holbrook, and leaving behind family and friends to head to Florida, but the time has come to put New York in the rearview mirror.
Luckily, he said he is taking a piece of home with him as he sets out to partner with one of south Florida’s largest catering companies, Potions In Motion owner Jason Savino. Ironically, as life would have it, Barret said not only did he and Jason grow up together as childhood friends in Holbrook, he essentially started his career with him years ago with a business venture non-related to cooking. Now, he is looking forward to coming full-circle when they join forces again in the kitchen.
“I wouldn’t work with somebody if they had no vision to grow. It’s funny how life comes 360,” he said.
In addition to being able to work with a lifelong friend, Barret said he is also excited to work alongside fellow colleague “The Sexz Chef” and Potions In Motion’s Executive Chef Justin DeSimone. Barret said ever since day one when he would walk into DeSimone’s kitchen even if it was just to use it for a special event he had in Florida, he was welcomed with open arms.
“Everything was made accessible to me. He’s not like most chefs; he doesn’t have an ego,” he said.
Barret said growing up he started cooking at the age of 13 when his dad taught him how to make spaghetti with eggs and cheese and remembered it being an amazing breakfast that inspired him to cook other things. From that point on he said he had always enjoyed cooking, but he didn’t focus on it until he joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1994 after high school. It was during that time from 1994-1997 that he began cooking for his fellow Guardsmen and eventually attended Star Career Academy in Syosset, N.Y.
Two weeks before graduation, Barret said he applied for a sous chef position at The Black Wolf in Syosset and met with the executive chef who was a consultant. Barret said the key for him in such a poignant moment was to say yes to everything and figure out what he didn’t know along the way. At the time, Barret did not know this was to set the tone for the career ahead and his evolution toward cooking competitively.
“I was running the place within three months out of culinary school; which is unheard of,” he said.
A chef with an edge, Barret is infamous for wearing his heart on his sleeve and staying true to himself at all costs. Barret said he feels to be a successful chef you not only need to have a big personality, but a big “inner-personality” more than anything. In spite of big-personality mentality, Barret humbly does not care for the term “celebrity chef,” and said he feels the term is used too loosely for chefs who make one brief appearance on an episode and are suddenly coined with the term.
Of course, no matter what level a chef is, an opportunity to work alongside Gordon Ramsay is something most would seemingly hold as an unforgettable experience; for better or worse. Barret said Ramsay was a great mentor, and the real-side of the drama-filled show is that when Gordon sits down and talks with the chefs that is who he really is.
“He cares about people, but he knows how to get ratings. He will give you motivation, and he’ll tell you what he sees you doing wrong and things you need improvement on. That’s who he really is,” he said.
At the end of the day, Barret said his time in the military was what helped him pay attention to detail and because of that he is very focused in his cooking. It is during times in the kitchen when things are all over the place and Barret is prepping 15 meals at once when he said his ability to have a specific tunnel vision helps make him a successful leader.
“It helps to be a leader. You’ve got to lead the cooks through a service, you have to lead the servers through a service; you know, you’ve got to lead everybody,” he said.
Aside from a new venture in Florida, Barret said as far as Reality TV is concerned the next show on his radar is “Chopped.” Until now, Barret said he thought he was never ready for the show, because of the eccentric dishes thrown at contestants, but now he said he feels ready for the challenge if the opportunity arises.
To keep up-to-date with Chef Barret Beyer you can follow him on Facebook.com/PalatePirate and Instagram @chefbarret.
Feature photo credit Kate Fox. Gallery photos courtesy Barret Beyer