Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Chef Chris Viaud Brings Haitian Cuisine To Milford, New Hampshire

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Chef Viaud brings authentic Haitian Cuisine To Milford.

Chris Viaud

You might not expect to discover authentic Haitian cuisine in Milford, New Hampshire, a quaint town known for antique shops and country craft stores. However, at age 31 accomplished Chef Chris Viaud is quickly making a name for himself throughout New England and the culinary world itself by bringing family-inspired Haitian recipes to the people of his community.

Best known to the food public for competing on Top Chef, Viaud is the chef/owner of Greenleaf and Ansanm, both located in Milford. His food, while rustic in its approach, is yet refined by classic techniques. Focusing primarily on seasonal products, most of which are grown locally, Viaud fuels his passion when creating menus. He plans and executes a balanced meal that incorporates different flavors and textures which allow for a unique dining experience each time.

Viaud grew up eating his mother’s Haitian meals.

Chris Viaud

A native of Randolph, MA, Viaud is a first-generation American of Caribbean descent who grew up always eating his mother’s Haitian meals but never prepared them himself. As he got older he realized how important it was going to be to understand Haitian cuisine, ingredients and recipes and how he was going to one day want to share this knowledge with his children, and eventually his community.

Upon graduating from Johnson and Wales University, he moved to Boston where he spent three of his most formative years at Deuxave in the Back Bay, where he worked his way to Sous Chef. Along the way he learned next to such chefs as Chris Coombs, Adrienne Mosier and Stefanie Bui. Since his time in Boston he has been an essential part of multiple restaurant openings in the Greater Boston and New Hampshire area.

Viaud has continually been working throughout the years to challenge himself by pushing the boundaries and constantly taking himself out of his comfort zone to hone his craft. He is always exploring new ideas, styles, trends and concepts and believes that each day there is the opportunity to learn something new. “With Haitian cuisine there are less boundaries and less of a confinement, and no exact recipes or measurements,” he says. “Haitian food is prepared with the senses.”

Haitian food is prepared with the senses.

Chris Viaud

Greenleaf is an elevated seasonally-inspired, farm-to-table dining destination in Milford’s downtown area. The restaurant is located in what was once a bank, which has been renovated to make every area of space usable. Old vaults are now private dining spaces and one is used as a pantry in the kitchen. The restaurant’s mission is to reflect the seasons of New England through its cuisine. He says, “We source ingredients and products as much as possible from our local farms, fishmongers and purveyors. The menu features our take on familiar food that’s refined with different techniques.” Popular dishes include the Roasted Califlower and Lull Farm Chicken.

Ansanm is a pop-up concept that is owned and operated by the Viaud family that shares and celebrates their Haitian culture and generational recipes. Launched in January, 2021, Ansanm currently operates within Greenleaf’s flagship space in Milford. According to Viaud, there is substantial time involved in the cooking process, from washing the meats with a citrus marinade to ensure the meat is clean, to the ingredients being used. “There are tons of herbs and spices to be prepared,” he explains. “The cuisine is filled with stories. It allows a family to connect and talk about the day while preparing the meals.”

Pork Loin, Polenta, Cattle Beans, Epis Aioli, Piperade, Plantain.

Chris Viaud

Viaud and his close-knit family host Ansanm Sunday Dinners, monthly pop-up dinners where authentic Haitian dishes are prepared for patrons. So popular have these become that often more than 100 orders are placed by appreciative members of the community. He says, “These are typically held once a month, but this could change depending on what events we have scheduled at Greenleaf. If we cannot host an in-person event, we try to provide a take-out option to replace it.”

Haitian Banana Bread Pudding, Plantain Dulce De Leche.

Vinny Marino

Viaud lists Poule nan sos, stewed chicken in creole sauce, as one of his favorite dishes to prepare. “It’s comforting and brings warmth to your soul,” he says. Labouyi, a dessert porridge seasoned with cinnamon and star anise is another popular dish. “It’s super creamy and reminds me of my childhood.” Other favorites include Soup Joumou, a soup that enslaved Haitians would make for their masters. Once they gained freedom from the French on January 1, 1804, they began making it for themselves. It’s now something Haitians make every January 1 as a celebration of independence from the French, and it’s otherwise known as Freedom Soup.

Haitian Beef Tenderloin Beets, Squash, Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts.

Chris Viaud

By elevating simple ingredients with vibrant flavors, sharing his culture with others throughout his community and sourcing locally via farm partnerships, Chef Viaud is bringing to Milford, New Hampshire a delectable taste of the Caribbean that never fails to please discerning palates.

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