If you asked The Milton Inn's executive chef Brian Boston what drives him, he’ll point to his desire to create lasting memories, and his passion for the food industry.
“It’s one of those things that gets in your blood, and never gets out,” Boston said. “We try to make memories here. Our business is to accommodate. We want to provide our customers with a good time.”
The Restaurant Association of Maryland recognized Boston, 44, as the 2011 Chef of the Year at its “Stars of the Industry Gala” on May 16.
“The ‘Chef of the Year’ goes to the chef that displays artistry of food, dedication to community and has a well rounded establishment,” said Marshall Weston, president and CEO of the restaurant association. “Chef Boston was an outstanding choice.”
The other finalists were Ian Campbell of Bistro Poplar, Patrick Murrow of Kali’s Restaurant Group, Tim Mullen of the Renaissance Hotel in Baltimore and Quanta Robinson of Black’s Bar and Kitchen
The association’s committee of industry insiders selected five finalists from a list of nominees. From there, the winner was selected by voters on the association’s website.
“It was great,” Boston said. “I look at all the other great chefs around town and I feel lucky that I was chosen.”
Boston, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is classically trained in French cuisine. He started his career as a line cook at Peerce’s Plantation, now The Grille At Peerce’s, an upscale restaurant in Dulaney Valley.
“It was a busy place to work, and a good training ground,” he said.
Boston took over the reins at The Milton Inn in 1997.
The inn, a 271-year old fieldstone building, was originally used as a coachstop for Quakers who had settled in the area. The building later became The Milton Academy, a school for the sons of prominent Maryland planters and merchants. One of the Academy’s most notorious students was John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin.
Located at 14833 York Road in Sparks, the inn has been a fine dining establishment since 1947.
Since Boston bought the business, the menu has evolved to showcase contemporary American fare with a French twist. Popular items include pan seared duck breast and an award-winning Maryland crab soup. The menu also features value-priced brunch and lounge items to make the restaurant more “accessible” for a larger customer base.
“We use a lot of local ingredients,” he said. “We have high quality meats, fish, produce. We do our own butchering, and our pastries are made in-house.”
Boston also credits his success to his loyal clientele.
“I personally know a lot of them," he said. “I talk to them about their families. The best customer is one we know. We know they like certain tables, need a certain amount of attention. We know how to best accommodate them.”
And getting to this point was no easy task.
“I’ve been working in the business almost 30 years now,” Boston said. “People look at you and think you are an overnight success. Being in the industry, it’s a challenge where you always have to perform at a high level.”
But Boston thrives on challenge.
“You’re only as good as your last meal.”