Chef Spotlight: Chad Gauss

Chef Chad Gauss, Owner and Executive Chef of The Food Market in Hampden is a Baltimore native and graduate of Baltimore International College (now known as Stratford) and got his start as a line cook at Au Poitin Still in Timonium in 1999. He spent six years at Bluestone, working his way up from line cook to Chef de Cuisine. Then Gauss headed to City Cafe as Executive Chef for three years. His current restaurant, The Food Market, opened in 2012 and focuses on approachable, serious comfort food, in a smartly designed industrial-modern space. Chad’s approach to food? “I like to make classics my own.”

Get to Know Chef Gauss

Culinary contributor Amy Langrehr sat down with Chef Gauss, to chat about food, family and what’s great about Baltimore.

Was food a big part of your upbringing?
CG: I ate everything I could get my hands on. I never got up until my plate was cleared, but only then it was to get seconds!

Lots of kids get to choose the meal on their birthday…anything they want (to a point, I suppose…) What would be your ‘birthday meal’ now? What did you ask for when you were a kid?
CG: I’ve always loved Mexican food. You know, chicken fajitas and all that. Now, I want the most expensive thing I can afford. I like to go big for special occasions like birthdays.

You do a good amount of catering these days. Baltimore can be a pretty traditional food town, especially when it comes to catering. How do you get your catering clients to trust you and go with a little more creative menu?
CG: I like to use ingredients people know and understand. Some want elevated versions of the menu at The Food Market. Some just want really good comfort food. It's really up to them, they're the client.

Not a lot of people know you have a private dining room downstairs. How do you plan to use it? How much does it cost to book it?
CG: We really haven't marketed it at all and may not since it already has a little following on its own. People are booking it. To get to it, you have to go through the restaurant and the main kitchen, down the stairs, through the office, coolers, storage, etc. It's definitely behind-the-scenes. Dinner for 12, cooked by me in the space with you and your guests. Cost is $300 rental, plus $100 per person, inclusive of food, drinks, service. It's a good deal for the experience and what you get.

What food trend can you absolutely not stand?
CG: I don't like when people in the industry don't want to give guests what they want. You can only push your agenda so far. Let the guests enjoy the experience and feel good about it.

How do you balance home and work? You have three young kids - that can't be easy. I guess days off are big.
CG: When I'm home, I'm home. At work, at work. I have to prioritize. Whoever needs my attention, that's where I am. With Wendi and the kids, it's constant motion. Day trips, amusement parks, sports games, horse farm, eating out at restaurants, etc. We like to be active - and together.

Do you have time to watch any food TV? If so, are there any celebrity chefs you admire?
CG: No, I just don't have the time or interest in food television for the most part. Yeah, some chefs. Like maybe Charlie Trotter was one. Also Thomas Keller and José Andrés.

What do you love about food and cooking?
CG: You can be an artist. Food makes people smile. You can tell a lot about a person by what they cook and what they eat.

What are some of your favorite restaurants in the city?
CG: The Prime Rib. Classic Baltimore. A steak and a huge potato. I also love Aldo's - having Aldo and Sergio make me a great dinner. That's great. Let's see…what else? Oh, the veal parmesan at DiPasquale's, chicken fajitas at El Salto, steamed crabs at Conrad's… (stops, thinks) and ordering off the dinner menu at lunch at Capital Grille, Maryland crab soup at Thames Street Oyster House and the #4 at Pho Dat Thanh.

Okay…obligatory…when you cook at home, what do you like to make?
CG: I just like to make my kids happy.

What do you love about Baltimore?
CG: I love that I understand Baltimore. The charm of Baltimore. And the fact that Baltimore will tell you how it is - not sugar coat it. And we're the underdog. Gotta love the underdog.

Explore Chad’s Baltimore

Chad Gauss’s Featured Places