King of the kitchen

When Ben Roche was a student at Battery Creek High, his tastes in food ran mostly to pizza and chicken.  But things changed during his sophomore year, according to mom Leah Roche, a media specialist at Beaufort High. 


“He had friends on the Battery Creek wrestling team who got him interested in healthy eating,” Roche says, “and all of a sudden he was asking me to buy these vegetables I’d never heard of and then experimenting with different ways of preparing them.  Our kitchen looked like a volcano had erupted.” 


After graduating from Battery Creek and later from Johnson and Wales University, Roche worked his way up to the kitchens at famed Chicago restaurants Charlie Trotter’s and Moto.  Last fall, he and chef-partner Thomas Elliott Bowman opened Baume & Brix, a 200-seat spot that has quickly become one of the Windy City’s newest hot spots.  And just last week, the kitchen crew from Baume & Brix traveled to New York as the stars of a $170-a-plate event at the James Beard Foundation, which sponsors formal dinners that it likens to “Carnegie Hall for chefs.”  Roche also has co-starred in Discovery Planet’s “Future Food” series and has spoken at TED conferences.


Roche’s latest inspiration is creating new gelato flavors for J.P. Graziano, a landmark Italian grocery and sandwich shop in Chicago.


Trivia alert:  Because dishes at Baume & Brix “bounce between the classic and hypermodern,” it’s fitting that the restaurant is named after old-fashioned and present-day measurements used in winemaking.  “Baume” is an 18th-Century measurement of liquid density, and “Brix” is a contemporary scale that wine-makers use to measure sugar levels.