ZACK BRUELL calls himself a jock with a great palate. And he cooks like he golfs — intuitively. He’s spent so many years developing his technique — in the kitchen and on the course — that now he doesn’t have to think about how to achieve what he wants. He gets there, in either setting, by instinct.
“I’m not a food scientist,” he says. “I don’t understand the chemistry. The word umami is not part of my vocabulary. But I do know that adding shiitake mushrooms and truffle oil gets a Chardonnay cream sauce where it needs to go.”
Sometimes he starts with a specific ingredient and builds around it. Or he might focus on a particular culture’s cuisine to jump-start his culinary creativity. Either way, the goal’s the same: “I like food that hits the tongue and then explodes with flavor in your mouth. I’m always looking for maximum impact.”
For Bruell, salt is as essential to getting the job done as selecting the right club for the fairway. But it doesn’t have to be the kind that comes out of a shaker. In his celery root salad, capers and Parmesan cheese play that role with panache. “The trick is hitting the precise point where it’s just enough and not too much,” he explains.