The Calgary Petroleum Club is pleased to welcome back, Brad O’Leary as our Evening Sous Chef. Chef Brad joined the Club in September of this year, coming from the well-loved Escoba Bistro & Wine Bar.
Brad O’Leary was born and raised in rural Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Growing up across the road from his grandparents’ homestead helped shape O’Leary’s passion for food at a very early age. By ten years of age Brad knew he wanted to become a Chef and would spend hours in the kitchen working alongside his grandmother learning to prepare family classics like stews, baking, and other comfort foods.
(the following high-lighted paragraphs are taken directly from an article in Culinaire Magazine by ELIZABETH CHORNEY-BOOTH posted Sat, Dec 7, 2013)
After graduating high school O’Leary considered a business degree, but he was not able to resist the lure of the kitchen. He studied at the Culinary Institute of Canada at Holland College, Prince Edward Island, for two years before moving to Toronto to work with chef Robert Buchanan at Acqua. Hesitant to lay down roots in any one place, O’Leary spent two years in Toronto and then found himself in Australia, and spent a year working at another well-regarded restaurant. The pull of friends and family brought him back to Canada and he took a job as a executive sous chef at the ultra-prestigious Rideau Club in Ottawa. Over the course of his three years at the Rideau Club, O’Leary learned the ins and outs of high-end dining and had the opportunity to feed many high-profile dignitaries.
“I did do a function for Jean Cretien,” O’Leary recalls. “I was so shy that I was not able to go out and talk to him. And the next thing you know, the kitchen door flies open and it’s Cretien coming in. He grabs me and puts me in a big bear hug and kisses me on the cheek. It was awesome.”
After a stint back in Nova Scotia, he moved west to Calgary for family reasons and in 2007 O’Leary took a job at Escoba as a sous chef. The restaurant was undergoing some renovations at the time, so not only did O’Leary cook in the kitchen, but he also took on some construction work, even helping to lay down the tile floor that is still in the restaurant’s dining room. Despite his connection to the restaurant, he left for a job at the Petroleum Club to take the reins as wine cellar chef. While there, O’Leary got back into the same fine-dining groove that he had found himself in at the Rideau Club in Ottawa and also found himself growing as a chef.
“I was able to come out of my shell a little bit at the Petroleum Club because I’d have to go out and explain my dishes and talk to people to tell them what they were getting,” O’Leary says. “And they were always really gracious. I’d be cooking for people down there and they were people with high standards – they’re high up in society here in Calgary. I’d go outside at the end of the night and they’d be leaving the restaurant at the same time. And they’d all call me by my first name and just make me feel at home.”
In 2009 O’Leary accepted the opportunity of partnership and Executive Chef position at Escoba Bistro & Wine Bar and he worked tirelessly to maintain and rebuild clientele continuing to do so for the next seven years. Brad considers his return to the Calgary Petroleum Club to be a homecoming of sorts. He is excited to return and is grateful for the warm welcome he has received from patrons, management, and fellow team members.