Wade Burch might, at first blush, cut the figure of a grizzled veteran New Yorker, but he’s a true Texan through and through. He did grow up in Texas City, Texas after all. Located right on the edge of the Gulf Coast, Texas City is known for a beautiful stretch of 2-lane blacktop fondly referred to as “the Dike” that extends 7 miles into the heart of The Gulf of Mexico. This unique proximity to the ocean afforded Wade access to all the fresh seafood he could catch and carry home on his bike, where his family, full of generations of “amazing cooks,” prepared it, planting the early seeds for his culinary career. That being said, no self-respecting Texan would lead a beef-less existence and Wade, who wryly dubs himself a “redneck”, is certainly no exception. Growing up in the carnivorous Texas culture he became enamored with the deep, smoky flavors that only barbeque can fully capture. In fact, he spent his childhood summers visiting family on a dairy farm outside of Fort Worth, Texas where he milked cows, hauled hay, and learned an appreciation for the vivid flavor of fresh, high quality ingredients.
Although he originally dreamed of becoming a Veterinarian, he realized that “if I wanted to keep eating well, I better find a way to make some money.” Half a dozen years in Veterinarian school certainly weren’t going to pay the dinner bills, so when he saw a “NOW HIRING” sign in the window of a new restaurant in town he decided to give it a go and was hired on the spot as a fry cook. Within weeks he was promoted to crew chief. “I remember the first paycheck after my promotion, it was double, and I got to be in charge,” he fondly recalls as if it were just yesterday. “I was hooked.” Since then, Wade’s career has taken him on a roller-coaster of a ride throughout the U.S. (“the left coast, the right coast, and the Gulf Coast,” he chuckles). His stops include the prestigious Plaza Hotel, a stint under the renowned Larry Forgione (aka “The Godfather of American Cuisine”), The Pan Pacific Hotel in San Francisco, and The Club Corporation of America where he worked his culinary magic at numerous Country Clubs and companies throughout the state of Texas, including Ross Perot’s EDS, a state of the art compound in Plano. He also cooked for the Brennan Family at their Houston outpost in the early 80’s while Emeril Lagasse headed their operation as corporate chef. While there he fortuitously met Rex Hale and Kevin Rathbun, who later brought him aboard Stephan Pyles’ Baby Routh in Dallas.
Wade’s cooking has continued to grow and evolve throughout his career, as he’s never been satisfied with the status quo. In 1993, he was awarded a scholarship to the School for American Chefs at Beringer Vineyards, headed by the innovative Madeleine Kamman. At the time, he was the only chef from Texas to have ever been selected to attend. Kamman pushed his cuisine to another level, as Wade gushes, “she changed my approach to ingredients and each dish I prepare.” A few years later he enrolled in the Windows on the World Wine School, taught by Kevin Zraly, where once again new gastronomic doors were blown off the hinges, and wine soon became a consuming passion for him. He is now an avid collector with an increasingly crowded cellar in the basement of his New Jersey home, where he and his wife reside with their three beautiful daughters Hailey, Brie, and Addison. Wade has also been featured on the prominent Food Network Show, “Chopped.”
As Executive Chef of SOUTHWEST NY Wade returned to his roots, drawing inspiration from childhood memories of Texas barbeque and freshly caught fish. He manages to seamlessly blend the clean taste of fresh fish, unctuous flavors of barbeque, and the spicy allure of Southwestern spices to create a menu that appeals to any palate. He is also the Executive Chef of Merchants Riverhouse, the newly opened Merchants Market and the soon to be opened Neely’s Pig Parlor.