Brad Carter, Chef Patron, Carters of Moseley

The Staff Canteen

Michelin-starred chef, Brad Carter, has been making great food since he was at school where his food tech teacher awarded him with his first accolade of best pizza in the class, but he’s come a long way since then! Unlike many of the Michelin-starred chefs we feature Brad doesn’t come from a background of starred kitchens under big name chefs.

He has learnt his trade in a very business-like manner, not only did he want to learn how to cook the best food but he also wanted to understand how to run kitchens in restaurants, pubs and hotels. After gaining all this knowledge he took a chance and opened Carters of Moseley in Birmingham and he hasn’t looked back since.

The Staff Canteen spoke to Brad about his vision for his restaurant, how it felt to get a Michelin star and why his beard caused such a stir on Saturday Kitchen.

Brad Carter
Brad Carter

You learnt the basics of cooking at Birmingham College but where was your first chef job?

I was about to finish college when someone offered me a job in Menorca, and I was allowed to take one of my friends from my class. We were there for a year working in a little restaurant, buying all the ingredients at the market and doing a lot of preserving for the next season.

Fast forwarding to where I am now, the food, there’s a lot of work that goes into it but it appears very simplistic and that comes from my time in Spain. It stuck with me the way they respect ingredients and they don’t mess about with them.

You’ve not worked in Michelin kitchens or for any well-known chefs, was that a conscious decision?

I’ve always wanted to be an all-rounder and I wanted to be able to run a whole operation. I’ve always chosen jobs which benefit my career rather than working for a specific chef. So I worked in a hotel because I thought I needed to be a better manager, I knew in that environment it would be busy, there would be three services and I’d probably have chefs of all ages on the sections. I wasn’t really into the big name chefs and the other reason was I didn’t want to get tainted with a style.

Plus, chefs can go through all the different starred kitchens but at the end of it they don’t always have a palette, they just have a lot of good technique. So it all looks amazing but tastes wishy washy. For me it’s all about what you cook and how it tastes, even if it’s steak and chips I’ll always make it taste nice.

Why did you decide to open your own place in 2010?

I was 24 and I got it into my head that I wanted a restaurant by the time I was 30, so I worked as a head chef just at a small bistro type place, and saved. I sacrificed a few holidays and nights out and by the time I was 28 I was approached by an old customer from Spain who had followed me around to the places I worked to eat. He was prepared to help me with the last bit financially and then we found this place. I’ve always liked Moseley plus the investment in the city would have been too much for us. Where we are now is the perfect.

Brad Carter, Carters of Moseley
Brad Carter, Carters of Moseley

What’s you ethos at Carters of Moseley?

The restaurant now is just a refined version of what I’ve always loved. I’m a British chef and very British orientated with everything. The restaurant is small enough to allow me to refine it which is why it has become what it is. Our menu can change every day, it’s seasonal and weather dependant. I’m working with the same suppliers now as I was 10 years ago.

How has the restaurant changed in the past six years?

It’s naturally progressed and it’s evolved into something more refined. The food has just got better over time but it has always been set out to be a taste of Britain. The only thing which has really changed is we started off with an a la carte menu. We were testing the market, I was an unknown chef opening a new restaurant so I wanted to appeal to more people but still stay true to what I wanted to cook.

By the end of 2012 we had changed to a three and a five course menu – it’s the best thing we ever did. The menu became really sharp straight away and we could put all of our time and effort into these set courses. People still kept coming and they were enjoying it a lot more because the timings were better, it just felt like that’s what the restaurant should be doing. We just found this great energy and started really thinking about the food.

So, on food, talk us through your menu.

All the menu writing is mainly done by me but I do encourage the younger chefs to use the ingredients we get in to create a dish of their own we can integrate. It’s hard for them as they are there to learn so it’s not easy for them to say ‘oh I want to put this dish on the menu’. We’ve got a few dishes still which have been there since day one, the chicken liver cereal, I’ll have to have that on my gravestone! Everybody loves it, it’s a chicken liver parfait with a savoury granola over the top. It’s just two mouthfuls but the granola we cook in goose fat and it’s so simple but so effective for the start of the meal.

Brad Carter, Carters of Moseley
Brad Carter, Carters of Moseley

How did you come up with that?

I love chicken liver parfait. I always think how can we integrate these amazing, traditional and really classic tastes into a tasting menu? So at the moment we have mash and gravy on the tasting menu, on a main course on a tasting menu it would be too rich and heavy. There’s nothing more British than mash and gravy so I thought we should just make a dish out of it.

We have a potato farm we use for heritage potatoes, so we use the best potato and we make our own aged beef dripping which we add to the mash and then we serve it with bone marrow gravy. We’ve made it that nice that people are coming in and eating it and saying ‘it was lovely but you’ve ruined mash and gravy for me now’.

You got the star in 2015, how did that feel?

It was a shock. I set up the restaurant for my future not for a Michelin star, I never went out for that. I knew they were coming but I didn’t realise they had been five times that year! I have never worked in a Michelin star restaurant so until the first one came I’d never spoke to an inspector before so it was all new to me. Rebecca Burr called me when I was prepping a load of beef and asked me if I could keep a secret.

When she told me I had got a Michelin star I said ‘no, I don’t believe you’ then she said well done and told me I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone until the next day! It got leaked that year so the Michelin Guide came out during lunch service, I had to lock my phone in a drawer and all the customers were going mad at the table when they were finding out. But the energy it created in

Brad Carter, Carters of Moseley
Brad Carter, Carters of Moseley

the dining room and the restaurant, for about a week, there’s nothing else which can do that to a restaurant. Unless I get another one or three I don’t think anything will ever make me feel like that again.

You’ve got a star, you’ve done Saturday Kitchen recently – what’s next?

I got a bit of stick on Saturday Kitchen on twitter because of my beard, they were going crazy about the French chef’s shoes and how nice they were and then slating my beard, so I came off worse! But no my focus is one hundred percent the restaurant. The star has filled in a few of the gaps and given us a bit more exposure and I suppose given me more confidence but at the end of the day I was happy with what I was doing and that was just the cherry on the top. I don’t ever want to be one of these restaurants which is quite current and then just drops off the face of the earth.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st December 2016

Brad Carter, Chef Patron, Carters of Moseley