Chris Addley is a local Connecticut Chef that wears two crucial hats. He wears his chef hat as the creative genius behind the fine dining, farm-to-table meals at Hartford’s Firebox Restaurant, and he wears his culinary Professor’s hat as a mentor to many people who are learning the ins and outs of working in the culinary industry. Chris Addley is at the helm of an exceptional restaurant in Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood.
Firebox’s story is as unique as its food. When you dine there, you directly support the work of non-profit Billings Forge Community Works (BFCW). Since both of their founding more than a decade ago by the Melville Charitable Trust, BFCW and Firebox have sought to be driving forces for community participation and empowerment of its neighbors. In addition to food access programming, BFCW trains individuals for careers in culinary, many of whom have multiple barriers to employment, including poverty, homelessness, past addiction or re-entry after incarceration. They work through a 10-to 12-week paid program to learn crucial skills: cooking, baking and knife work; sanitation and ServSafe certification. Trainees complete externships at Firebox or one of the restaurant’s two sister cafes, both called The Kitchen (one is in Frog Hollow, and the other is Downtown at the Hartford Public Library). 85% of BFCW’s graduates then go on to gain employment at one of the three establishments or other area restaurants. That’s a rare “feel good” culinary experience that you will be glad to experience.
This unique program is the reason Chris Addley chose to work at Firebox. “The community supports what we have created here and our hands-on approach to teach people is special. Our standard is very high, but we also have fun in the kitchen. If the trainees demonstrate eagerness, they rise higher in this business. Everyone working here is interested in our ‘food for good’ mission,” says Addley.
About Chris as a Chef
Chris unexpectedly fell into his culinary career in Ireland. He moved there to attend a Marine Biology School but ended up falling in love with the coastal restaurant business instead. He attended Lincoln Culinary School, and his career experience progressed from catering for large hotels to working at Deuxave, a lauded French restaurant in Boston. He returned to Hartford and heard of a unique high-end farm-to-table restaurant called Firebox and applied to be their sous chef. Now, as Head Chef he can be as creative as the local produce, the New England fisherman’s catch and Connecticut butcher’s offerings that week.
Chris has a very close relationship with the local producers. “Each Monday I can count on an 8 a.m. call from Nunzio from Four Mile River in South Lyme who calls to let me know what he’s offering. Every Wednesday he comes in himself to drop off pork chops, ground beef, and bone marrow.” Chris from Seacoast Mushrooms in Mystic grows the best blue oysters, shitake, morels, black trumpets that Addley has ever seen in his life. In the summer the farmers send him their lists of what is in season, and this drives what the menu will look like that week.
Besides a few tried and true staples since the restaurant’s inception, Chris has created every single item on the menu along with his team. He believes in an atmosphere where everyone in the kitchen has a chance to flex their creative muscles. Stand out dishes are the P.E.I. MUSSELLS with garlic, arugula, Pernod cream, and grilled filone; CAST IRON DUCK with goat feta polenta, spinach cranberry gastrique, and chocolate Guinness dust; and the 14 OZ RIBEYE with marrow butter, potato puree, crispy kale roasted seacoast mushrooms and the ever-changing FIREBOX WINGS. The CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE with Bailey’s mascarpone, macerated plums, and espresso bean gelato is worth the decadence.
All of this adds up to creative farm-to-table meals that support a noble cause. Located on the site of the former Billings & Spencer Company, Firebox has an old-world feel. The brick-walled tavern with high ceilings is inviting for lunch or dinner. There is also a cozy fine dining area with local art and a large area for groups or gatherings.
Firebox Restaurant, 539 Broad Street, Hartford, CT 06106 (valet parking available)
www.fireboxrestaurant.com. (860) 246-1222. GM James Nastri may be reached at: email@example.com. Don’t miss the May 20th Tour of CT Farms Fund Raising Dinner, 5:30-7:30pm at Firebox. Attendees will enjoy a fine, locally sourced meal from partners Sweet Pea Farm, Seacoast Mushrooms, Four Mile River Farm, and Rose’s Berry Farm. Tickets will be $75pp and more info may be found at: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/bfcwb/event/798904
Tuesday – Friday:
(Lunch) 11:30am -2:30pm
& (Dinner) 5:30-10pm
Saturday: (Dinner) 5:30-10pm
& (Dinner) 4:30-8:30pm