Posted by Patrick Maness
Chef Mitch Randall grew up to the sounds of the ocean waves in Scarborough, Maine. So it was probably no surprise that his first job was serving up fish and chips at a local clam shack on Pine Point beach in Maine. “One of the things I enjoyed most about growing up in Maine was cooking and eating local seafood. Being around the energy of a busy kitchen showed me my career path,” he said.
Randall went on to get a degree at Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI. He was later introduced to French cuisine. Combining seafood with his newfound love of French food he came to Mistral, a Boston, MA restaurant that is part of the Columbus Hospitality group.
Finding a Mentor
At Mistral, the menu features “uncomplicated French Mediterranean cuisine.” Randall worked under the tutelage of Chef/Owner Jamie Mammano “It was eye-opening,” he said.
Today, Randall gives Mammano much of the credit for his growth as the Chef at Ostra in Boston, MA
. “I was lucky enough to have a mentor like Jamie. He showed me everything I know. I am so inspired by Chef Jamie and his passion that I made a commitment to myself to go as far as I could in this company,” said Randall. He advises aspiring Chefs to find someone like Mammano “who can not only teach the techniques, but also show you the importance of hard work, dedication and commitment,” he said.
Fresh Seafood, Done Simply
It’s clear that growing up in Maine has influenced his cooking style today. To hear him talk about fish is almost a poetic thing. “I love taking a fresh beautiful squid and making it shine in subtle ways. At the Columbus Hospitality group, we have our own fishmonger. We get to walk around the pier and become inspired by these ingredients,” said Randall. “We also utilize a lot of farmers market and local farms,” he said.
He shares the knowledge and the passion for these ingredients with the staff. “We all work together. Once the staff gets to see the fish and taste these dishes, they become more passionate about their jobs and that translates to the customers,” he said.
One of most popular dishes at Ostra is a classic branzino filet, baked in salt. “The salt helps capture the moisture and true flavor of the fish. The branzino is brought to guest, filleted tableside, and finished with Greek olive oil, lemon salt, and accompanied by seasonal produce,” he said.
Even when he talks about cookware, you can hear the passion in his voice. “I love using these heavy-lidded sauté pans and paella dishes made in France. It’s outstanding cookware that provides even cooking. It’s inspiring to hold it in your hand and cook with it,” he said.
So what does the Chef eat at home? “In the morning, I have a healthy green juice made with kale. I quite enjoy it,” he said. There’s also eggplant parmesan that he makes for his family and friends. But when it comes to thinking about his “death row meal, that would be roasted sweetbreads, prepared simply with leek and cream sauce, fresh vegetables on the side, and served with a really cold glass of French white wine,” he said.
Even though he sees many restaurants are trending toward casual, tapas-style dining, he said “fine dining restaurants like Mistral and Ostra will still have their place,” he said. “People come here to have the best seafood in the city,” he said.
The secret to his success is to “focus, work hard and good things will come. I plan to grow with the company and continue to learn as much as I can from Chef Mammano. Maybe someday, when the time is right, I’ll open up my own restaurant,” he said.