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Trender: Sonoma Restaurant Owner and Chef Bill Brady

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Who in Central Mass is leading the community in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalWorcester offers glimpses of the people you most want to know on the scene. Today, we chat with Bill Brady, owner and chef of the award winning Sonoma Restaurant in Princeton.  Brady, who teaches at Worcester Vocational High School, just won the "MA Restaurant Association's 2012 Chef of the Year Award."

What do you like about cooking in Central Mass?

Central Mass offers a vast array of farm fresh vegetables, cheeses, meats etc. The people of Central Mass really enjoy great foods and wines and they have an appreciation of different cuisines. What really stands out about Central Mass is the feeling of community. Independent restaurants are really part of the fabric of the Central Mass community and it’s a great place to live and do business in.

Both you and Sonoma have gotten a lot of recognition, especially in the past couple of years. To what do you attribute your success? Are there any accolades that are particularly close to your heart?

As I am fond of saying, no one can go this restaurant business alone-- it takes teamwork. I am blessed with a loving wife along with being surrounded by extremely talented people. In order to be good at anything you have to love what you do, I love what I do! To be recognized by the public and especially your peers is definitely heartwarming, but the old adage is that you are only as good as your last meal, rings true. The awards that really mean the most to us here at Sonoma are the ones that we get for helping out the community, from Montachusett Opportunity Council’s “Reason for Hope Award” to being named a state finalist in the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Neighbor Award, these are the awards that stand out.

In talking about your approach to food you’ve said you like “clean” flavors. What does that mean?

Clean flavors mean to me are cooking methods that allow the true flavor of the food to shine. Literally translated, the word “sauce” means to mask; we want our sauces to complement the food not mask it. Think about it, how anyone can try to imitate the taste of a just picked tomato or the briny sweet taste of a just shucked Wellfleet oyster, the snap and pop of local farm corn? By using only the finest and freshest of ingredients and presenting them in an artistic manor, we allow the natural taste of the foods to shine.

What drew you to cooking?

What drew me into cooking is the self-satisfaction of creating something people love. The restaurant business is a hectic one, long hours, working nights and weekends, but the feeling of accomplishment is great. The bonds created by working with people in our industry are strong, the friendships created last lifetimes.

Where or from whom do you draw your inspiration?

How does one draw inspiration? Well, it is now a lot easier with the proliferation of cooking shows. Granted it is a lot of “Hollywood” on some of those shows, but there are some great ones. Growing up in the late 70s and 80s in this industry we had Julia Child, the Galloping Gourmet and of course Chef Tell, so I became a voracious reader. I think I subscribe to just about every trade magazine out there. I am constantly doing Internet searches and I am always reading menus, not just upscale restaurants, but all restaurants. One of the wonderful things about our industry is that you can learn from everyone. You can never stop learning in this or any other industry.

What’s next for Sonoma?

Great question. I think that we will continue to do what we do, we will continue to strive to improve our service and our food, we will try to stay ahead of restaurant trends, I think you will see more in house cures and smoked items on our menus. We really take on our motto, “Timeless commitment to Excellence.” Intimate, elegant….. and quite unforgettable, that’s Sonoma.


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