Alumni Spotlights

In the Kitchen with Ed Kernan '98

What was Ed’s introduction into the work force? It may have been Glenelg Country School! Even before college, Ed knew GCS made a difference in his journey. “Glenelg Country certainly influenced me in my career. Not in the food part specifically, but as an all-around person. Being a lifer, there are too many teachers to count that had an influence on me, but on one class that was key for me was Mr. Mattson’s Geometry class. Hopefully he remembers me fondly as a challenging student. There was something in studying geometry that just “clicked.” It showed me everything fits together and has a place – a key concept in the kitchen and in life, in general. Besides schooling, GCS was my first employer. Mr. Boland gave me a job as camp counselor and lacrosse coach in the summer. This was my introduction into responsibility outside of myself.”

Before Sur La Table, Ed worked for Bistro Moderne, where he claims to have learned the most about the culinary arts. “I really learned to cook working at Bistro Moderne under Chef Philippe Schmit. He yelled at me a lot, but I learned eventually,” Ed states. After working at Bistro Moderne, Ed started working for Sur La Table in 2007 and has been there ever since. He started assisting classes on the side at Sur La Table and helping out on the sales floor at one of the Houston stores in the fall of 2007. The Resident Chef at the time moved on and it was time for Ed to fill in! “It was very much trial by fire. I survived and thrived in the teaching kitchen setting,” he claims. After a year and Ed and his wife moved to Seattle where he ran the culinary program in the Kirkland store. In 2010, they came back to Texas and he soon took over the Dallas program. Just recently, Ed has been promoted to Senior Resident Chef. Besides running the Dallas program, he will be travelling to other stores to assist them in growing their business. “I love that this job requires me to wear many hats. The obvious one is chef, teacher, and entertainer. Outside of the kitchen I have to market, budget, schedule, and manage. It is basically running a restaurant that has three to four new menus a day and a new “staff” to cook each menu,” Ed claims.

In 2011, Ed was featured on Good Morning Texas showing a few kitchen tricks. Scary? No way. “TV was a lot of fun. It moves fast. Most segments are three minutes which seems like a lot, but not when you are trying to prepare a meal in front of the camera. My wife would probably tell you I was a bit stressed before each segment.”

Practice makes perfect – even after nine years, Ed still continues to get better at creating some of the same dishes he once created at Bistro Moderne. “Part of why I love the culinary world is I can learn about a new dish, ingredient, or technique every day. No matter how well a cook a dish I can always improve it or play with it to make it something else.” For Ed, his biggest moment as a Chef was being invited back to Seattle this past fall to cook dinner for the Board of Sur La Table. It was a five course meal that he had an unlimited budget for, featuring:

  • Tomato Tartare with Chive Oil and Espelette Orange Powder
  • Roasted Butternut Squash with Harissa and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • Figs with Shaved Fennel, Fresh Goat Cheese, and Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • Syrah-Braised Short Ribs with White Bean Puree and Chanterelle Mushrooms sauteed with Parsley and Berbere
  • Canele with Grand Marnier Syrup and Cardemom Ice Cream
Ed’s advice – “Go to college and get a degree in something. Work in a restaurant while at school. If you still like it, after you graduate then consider culinary school. Biggest lessons you have to learn about most jobs in the culinary industry is they don’t pay well and you go to work when your friends go to play. That being said, it’s fun. I get paid to play with fire and knives. Also, the best way to get a job is show up to a restaurant ready to work with a peeler in hand and tell them you’ll peel potatoes. It works.”
An independent school serving students from age 2 through grade 12 in Howard County, Maryland.