Photo by Eric Best

Photo by Eric Best

A new Day at Tullibee

Updated: July 27, 2017 - 1:15 pm

Bradley Day has taken the helm of the Hewing Hotel restaurant

The new executive chef at Tullibee could not have come from a place farther from the North Loop.

Bradley Day quietly took the helm of the Hewing Hotel restaurant in the spring and has been learning the ropes of the neighborhood and the Twin Cities ever since.

The Australian has put in many years cooking across the world after moving from his native Perth, a coastal city that’s more than 10,000 miles away from the Twin Cities. Day comes to Minneapolis from New York, where he worked as the executive chef of Asia de Cuba and STK Downtown. Before that, Day was in London where he cooked under renowned chefs Jean-George Vongerichten and Gordon Ramsay.

Now, after many miles traveled, Day is at the helm of a restaurant that uses local, seasonal ingredients to serve uniquely Midwestern food. We caught up with Day to talk about his journey. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Headshot - Chef Brad Day-1The Journal: How are you settling into the Twin Cities?

Day: I just moved last weekend. I live in Eden Prairie where I’ve got a big front yard and big backyard and a house. It’s really different. My wife just got here and my kids didn’t get here until [mid-July]. She’s from Des Moines, Iowa. We’re fortunate enough that my in-laws live in Iowa so the kids stayed with them while we got the house together. [My kids] are New Yorkers. One was born in Manhattan and one was born in Westchester. We’ve moved a lot. My friends call me a gypsy.

What brought you to Minneapolis?

We were looking to move closer to the Midwest, obviously to be closer to my in-laws. It’s pretty hard in New York to keep a balance. I’d finish some days at 3 a.m. and then try to get home around 4 [a.m.]. With a young family, it’s hard to stay focused and just stay fresh for them, and that’s a little unfair on the wife and the kids. I’m happy to be here.

How have you found the North Loop?

We did some research and this area was up-and-coming and it was a good opportunity. It was a leap of faith to move and do this at the same time.

One of the reasons why I came here and why the opportunity was so good for me was to get back into a community kind of scene. New York is so fast paced. People eat in New York City and here they seem to dine. You can give them the full experience. For most people this is the event for the evening. People come here and make this their special place.

Tullibee opened with a focus on Nordic cuisine. Is that changing?

We’ve moved away from that. We’re definitely “lakes and woods.” We’re trying to stay much more to true Minnesota, using local ingredients as much as we can. [In July] we did a butcher’s dinner with [Minnesota-based] TC Farms and we used a guinea hog with them and did a nose-to-tail dinner. We use Wild Acres and [Peterson Craftsman Meats] for our beef. We’re using Gentleman Forager and DragSmith Farms for our greens and produce. A couple of our fishes are coming from Lake Superior. We do some of our own charcuterie, but we can’t keep up with demand so we supplement with Red Table Meat Co.

I’m trying to keep everything within our area as much as we can. If we help them, they’ll help us. It’s a thriving new market. You have to help each other to keep it sustainable.

I’m not a normal New Yorker coming in being all gung-ho. I have a different attitude because I’m Australian. I’m much more laid back. I want my food to be good. I think the food will speak for itself and the reviews will speak for themselves as they come along.

Have you been to the Twin Cities before?

I have. My wife’s family has a lake house in Cass Lake. I’ve been up there fishing and hanging out on the lake. I enjoy it a lot. It’s not too dissimilar to how I’ve grown up. I grew up on the coast with a fishing lifestyle. We have surfing and things, but there’s a lot more farmland than people realize. There’s a wine region. There’s chocolate plants, creameries and a lot of cattle. You can come into the city and live the city lifestyle and 20, 30 minutes away you’re sitting around the lake. It’s the best of both worlds.

What will be changing at Tullibee?

We’re going to start a new menu change [later this summer]. We’re going to jazz it up a bit, make it a little fresher. That’s the advantage of working in this environment and changing ingredients around as the seasons change. We’re definitely trying to get some ingredients from Australia, like wattle seeds, some lemon myrtle and some bush tomatoes, which are like a dried berry. We’re going to try to do some more to those farmer dinners on Sunday nights.

Tullibee also has a robust bar program. What’s the cocktail scene like in Perth?

We have a lot of rums and a lot of white ports, which people don’t really have here. There is a lot of fortified wine. We have some sherry. In the Swan Valley, which is 45 minutes outside of Perth, you go out in the countryside and there’s a much warmer climate. There’s more sugar residual on the grapes so you get a lot more fortified wines out there. I think that’s something that comes back around. It’s not so much on anyone’s radar now. I think that’s something that could make into a cocktail at some point. There are lots of local brews back home, just like here. It’s very microbrew-oriented.