Many of chef Hart Boyd’s early memories involve restaurants. Growing up with parents working alternative restaurant shifts, Boyd remembers coloring with crayons on butcher paper as his mother began her waitressing shift. Meanwhile, his father – who got his start cooking in the Navy – ended his morning shift as a chef at Dock’s in Midtown Manhattan.
After waiting tables throughout college, Boyd took a chance and interviewed at renowned steakhouse Prime Meats in Brooklyn, but having yet to amass the required experience, he didn’t get the job. Undeterred, he offered to work for free, which he did for 1,000 hours before being officially hired. For Boyd, that experience is still the highlight of his career to date. The restaurant was an inspiration to him, and a place where he got to meet a variety of well-known chefs early on.
Boyd’s next opportunity, becoming junior sous chef at Clyde’s in Washington DC, fast-tracked his culinary journey. After just three years, he became executive chef. “When I first started, I wanted to be a sous chef by the age of 30. By 27, I was the executive chef of a restaurant,” he says.
Once Boyd married his wife and they grew their family, he was ready to take a break from being in charge. This led him back to New York, where he gained even more experience learning under different chefs. But soon after, the pandemic drastically changed the restaurant scene. “I was really concerned about the restaurant industry in New York,” he says. “I didn’t know if it was going to rebound.”
That’s when Boyd saw an opportunity in Rhode Island. He took a trip to meet Bayberry Garden’s former executive chef Mike Seely – and it wasn’t long before he was lured by the Creative Capital. “When I came up to tour Bayberry Garden, I fell in love with the space, the team, and all the people involved in the process. And I fell in love with Rhode Island too.”
Since officially becoming Bayberry Garden’s executive chef just last year, Boyd has enjoyed the artistic freedom to experiment with new dishes and surprise his guests. His favorite way to do this is through the Let Us Cook For You tasting menu, where he’s able to improvise dishes inspired by what’s in season locally. “It’s really fun and interesting to take ingredients and let them dictate what we’re going to do and then see the reactions of the guests,” he says. “We’ll riff on what we think will taste really good.”
For Boyd, the creative process of cooking is like music. He describes his experience in the kitchen like being in a jam or jazz band, with dishes influenced by his mood, the mood of the dining room, and of his team. Boyd and fellow chefs exchange both cooking inspiration and music, drawing from each other creatively. His goal? To empower the next generation of chefs to leave their footprint. “I used to be the youngest guy in the room and now I’m the oldest person in the kitchen,” he says. “I’m trying to come to terms with how to inspire and motivate a new generation of cooks, who I’m working with for the first time.”
As for Boyd’s own footprint, experience is everything, and dining should be interactive. It’s why he has a passion for finding unique ways to accommodate large groups. “This winter, we’re going to take some time to put an imprint on the menu with large-format stuff,” he says. “So many of the people that come in have parties of eight, and it’s so great to really give them something that is interactive, fun, and different, something you’re not just going to order on a menu any day of the week.”
While relatively new to Rhode Island, Boyd already fits right in. As he continues to carve his own path in the Providence restaurant scene, we’re sure to see even more plates that are music to our palettes.
Bayberry Garden • 225 Dyer Street • 410-642-5013
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here