Episode 13 – Master Series: From Sneaking into Back Doors to Head Chef, with Chef Kyle Bailey


This week we sat down with Chef Kyle Bailey, head chef at The Salt Line opening June 2017, in Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard district. Chef Kyle tells us his grueling story from workin as a dishwasher, to sneaking into back doors of kitchens, the landing a head chef position at just 27.

 About This Episode

Chef Kyle Bailey got his start as a 14 year-old dish washer in a restaurant, eventually leading to the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park in NYC (the Harvard of culinary school). After graduating the CIA, he worked his way up to Head Chef by the age young age of 27, a rare feat in the restaurant industry. His hustle, grit, and determination highlight the work ethic that many of us strive for.
One of Kyle’s first experiences as a cook was with Chef Shea Galante, formerly of Cru (the chef that could “shine shit”). Its where Chef Kyle was first introduced to sincere, craft food. “New America” heavily Italian inspired, French inspired, with the detail from Japanese cuisine, handmade. Of why the restaurant spoke to Kyle he said “Theres only one place you can get this meal, its the opposite of McDonalds”.
Kyle hustled through gatekeepers, introducing himself to top chefs by sneaking into kitchens through the back door. After Cru, Kyle worked for award winning Chef Dan Barber, founder and head chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, and author of The Third Plate. Barber was named Best Chef in America by the James Beard Foundation in 2009, and has won several other James Beard awards (the oscars for Chefs).  Barber was featured in Season 1 of the Netflix Original Series, Chef’s Table.  It was at Blue Hill at Stone Barns that Kyle fell in love with the ethos of the farm driven menu. A menu not determined by the chef, or the guests, but by the season and what the farm has to offer.
In the podcast episode, Chef Kyle and I talk about the value of eating locally, and how cutting down on costs also makes the quality better.
We also mentioned Chef Gaggan Anand, featured in Season 2 of Chef’s Table who serves “Indian foie gras” on his menu (goat brains).
We mention the struggle of cooking and eating fast while trying to eat local and sustainably. Chef Kyle mentions a solution to this known the CSA. To find a local CSA, or farmer’s market checkout LocalHarvest.org
Chef Kyle’s wife runs Buttercream Bakeshop, a bakery and sweet shop off of 9th street in Washington D.C.
Wise Guys Pizza in D.C. is one of Chef Kyle’s favorite fast casual, late night food joints in D.C. Has Chef inspired you to cook up a storm of your own? Here is a delicious, and simple pizza crust recipe from Mark Bittman.
Also mentioned was my brother Dallas Sweezy, a total nut, creative genius. Checkout his Instagram to follow his madness @dallasjsweezy

Terms Mentioned:

  • Sous Chef: The second in command to the Head Chef or Executive Chef
  • to trail or “stage” (pronounced: stahj): an often unpaid internship in the cook industry
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): a form of commerce where the consumer and purveyor or vendor partner with shared “stakes” in the game.
  • Family Dinner: the meal the restaurant staff eats before or after dinner service, prepared by the kitchen staff. Chef Kyle and his team usually try to one up each other. Its an important part of building culture.
  • coppa di testa aka “head cheese
  • Prosciutto
  • Pancetta
  • Trotters “pig feet”

Chef on Social

For some much-desired food porn check out Chef Kyle on Instagram, @ChefKyleBailey

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