Last month, caterer Brad Gates opened a small counter in City Market, where fans of his gourmet comfort food can stop in for grab-and-go items such as organic chicken risotto, horseradish grouper with Israeli couscous, and Shagbark cured salmon. Gates, a fixture in the local restaurant scene whose resume includes runs at Puck’s at IMA and the former Buggs Temple restaurant, Euphoria, runs his catering operation out of the market-side kitchen. In addition, he continues to oversee the menu—and, most spectacularly, the cheeseboard selections—at Ball & Biscuit (331 Massachusetts Ave., 317-636-0539).
Julia Spalding: Is the City Market space big enough for you to do what you need to do?
Brad Gates: Yes, it is. And if we grew out of it, that would be a wonderful problem. I’m calling the space The Pantry by Brad Gates Catering. They originally wanted me to do cheese only, and I have 35 cheeses. They’re from all over. I have some domestic cheeses and I have a lot of the swanky cheeses from Europe and beyond.
JS: How did you develop such a worldly cheese palette?
BG: I lived in New York for so many years and, I don’t know, there’s so much access to that sort of style there. I used to live, literally, two blocks down on Bleecker Street from Murray’s Cheese. So, Murray’s was a daily pass-by and tasting. Even if I didn’t buy anything, I just wandered in there and tasted whatever cheese they had out. So it was an easy addiction to pick up.
JS: Does the City Market location impact what you are able to do at Ball & Biscuit?
BG: The exciting thing is that until I moved in here, I was doing the food prep in their little kitchen. They don’t really have much of a kitchen, so we were limited in what we could do. So now Zach (Wilks) and I are actually working on the menu. I’m not doing anything crazy or too different from what we’re doing now. Just exciting items that will fit in there, along with some of the staples that I don’t think I could ever get rid of, even if I wanted to—like the Barely Buzzed Mac & Cheese, the hummus, and all the cheeses. I think what we are going to do with the cheeses is blackboard them. It’s hard to have a printed menu of cheese, because you never know when a provider is going to be like, “Eh, I don’t have that one right now.” And that happens a lot, especially with small artisan cheese-makers.
JS: Will you eventually open your own restaurant?
BG: I would love to. When I have money to do it myself, that’s when I would do it. But you never know when you might get approached by someone who really has it together, has a great idea, or is willing to work with you. You just never know. I sort of just take it as it goes. I get offers every now and then and I haven’t come across anything that’s been worth pulling away from the idea of a family-run restaurant. The Gates Family Empire.
JS: Is “the Gates Family Empire” you and Meggin?
BG: Yes, it’s my wife and me. I actually met her at Wolfgang Puck’s. She was in event sales there, and I was a chef. We decided that we were just going to do this together. She kind of does everything but the cooking, to be quite honest with you.