Frederic Kieffer | Executive Chef and Partner of Artisan, West Hartford, CT




Chef Frederic Kieffer comes to West Hartford via Paris, New York City, and Southport, CT.  Having grown up in the countryside west of Paris, Frederic Kieffer spent his summers working in local restaurants where he discovered a true passion for cooking. His career began in the kitchen of Tentation Caterers in New York City, running the culinary arm of The Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. After working in New York City’s Water’s Edge and Man Ray Restaurant, Chef Kieffer had the opportunity to open l’escale at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor Hotel, as well as Gaia restaurant also in Greenwich. Under his guidance both restaurants received an “Excellent” rating from the New York Times.

In 2011, he became Executive Chef and Partner of Artisan, a true farm-to-table concept to dining, where he continued to promote sustainable agriculture through seasonally inspired menus. Artisan received a “Don’t Miss” rating in January 2012 by The New York Times and Three Stars from Connecticut Magazine.

With the third Artisan location at the Delamar Hotel in West Hartford, Chef Kieffer is once again bringing his talents to the kitchen and into the community, establishing reciprocal relationships with local farms and specialty purveyors, affording those in the Greater Hartford area, and those traveling to the dining destination of West Hartford, an opportunity to experience the freshest of ingredients crafted in his signature seasonal style.


You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?

To make today a better day then the prior one. If i can make a small change every new day it will eventually be meaningful. It is not limited to personal changes or work related changes, it is both as they are intertwined.

What traits separate extraordinary chefs from ordinary ones?

Passion, passion, passion

Your biggest pet peeve when working is what?

There are a few but these two are the big ones. Respect, one must have respect for the food itself in order to attempt to do something with it. If I see food not being treated and/or handled properly it really irritates me.  Then, you need to taste your work, the spoon is your sharpest tool. It needs to be used over and over and over and you must have one with you at all times, period.


What was the defining moment for you when starting your career?

The moment — I realized it pretty early — in the cooking world the more you know the more you realize that you know very little, I had to be in it for the long run, there was and still is no other way.

Curious to know – when you are eating at a restaurant of whatever type — what’s the first thing that draws your attention?

The staff knowledge of the product food and drinks. If the front house staff knows the menus and can clearly take the guest through the nuances of the menus, you can be sure that there is a real Chef, Sommelier and Restauranteur behind them. This establishment should be considered as a serious one regardless of the type of food, sophistication and level of service.

How would you assess the quality of food most Americans are eating today and what elements should people try to include on a daily basis?

We are on the right path. For a long period of time, we have failed — as a society — to truthfully consider the side effects of mass produced food, or ready to eat food and all the artificial ingredients added along the way. Whether during the growing phase or the production phase. More of us now are more aware of who we are is what we eat. Fibers and vegetables proteins should be something that we should try to include more often in our diet.

The annual PGA TOUR stop in Hartford bring many people to the area — what’s the significance of the event to the broader community?

We are new to the Hartford area but having experienced the proximity of such events in the past it usually has a very positive effect. We get exposed to a much larger audience, it is the best way for communities outside of the big metropolitan areas to get on the map.


Photo: Connecticut Food and Farm

How do you see the food industry evolving in the years ahead?

I think the “less is more” motto will grow even stronger. We are choosing quality over quantity. We are being more sensitive to the seasonality and availability of our food. we are taking a few steps back and that is good.

Is there a specific bucket list restaurant you wish to visit in the near future?

There is no bucket large enough for that list, the world is full of restaurants where hundred year old traditions get passed on for the new generations to enjoy. Anthony Bourdain is and will be deeply missed by many.

Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?

There are two advices I would offer that are still very present in my mind to this day. They were both told by a vice-president and a General Manager of a company I was working for at that time. First, it is not most important to have a great idea but be able to recognize one. Second piece of advice: One of the greatest  things about life is that today is always a great day to start.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *