At home with Chef Kevin Browe

Judith Harris Solomon
Special to The Detroit News
The Grille Midtown Chef Kevin Browe shows off his Grand Marnier French Toast, left, and Spicy Jambalaya at his Macomb Township home.

Kevin Browe, executive chef of The Grille Midtown in Detroit, began working in Metro area restaurants when he was just 15 years old.

"I don't really have any early childhood memories of cooking," he says. "But I think I got interested in it because it was a way to express myself in an artistic manner; your plate is like a canvas and your food is the art."

While attending Macomb Community College's Culinary Arts Program part time, Browe continued to work at several local restaurants. After graduating in 2008, he did stints at The Old Club on Harsens Island, the Harbor Yacht Club in Algonac, Tom's Oyster Bar in Royal Oak and several Andiamos.

Then, in November of 2013, the Detroit native was hired to open The Grille Midtown.

"I ended up doing a lot of alteration to the original menu, which had been done by a culinary consultant," he says.

He also created the restaurant's brunch and happy hour menus.

The chef says he chose to share his jambalaya recipe with us because it's a great make-ahead dish. You can refrigerate the base for up to six days in advance and then just add the shrimp, the chicken and the rice at the last minute, he says.

"My wife, Karly, and I do a lot of cooked-ahead stuff at home, so we can grab and go and be done with it," he says. "When you've worked a 12- or 13-hour day at the restaurant, the last thing you want to do is spend three hours cooking at home."

Browe says he decided to share his recipe for French toast with us because "it shows people how much flavor you can add to a traditional dish by just adding a little twist. I think the marmalade gives it extra flavor and the Grand Marnier lends a little orange burst."

And the Macomb Township resident says he particularly loves the key lime pie he also shares here because it's such a simple recipe.

"I originally used it at the yacht club, then tweaked it a bit," he says. "And I purposely don't add whipped cream to the top because I think it already has a soft enough texture."

Browe says he loves working hand in hand with other chefs. "And I'm still learning every day. I would never do a desk job because it's too solitary. I like that in a restaurant you never know what's going to happen. No two days are the same."

Next up? He and Karly are looking forward to the birth of their first child in June.

Judith Harris Solomon is a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Contact her at

Grand Marnier French Toast

For the filling

For the batter

6 eggs beaten

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup Grand Marnier liqueur

8 slices of soft commercial French bread that is pre-cut into one inch thick slices.

2 tablespoons cooking oil

To top

1/2 cup orange marmalade thinned with 1/8 cup water

In a saute pan, heat the cranberries and the Grand Marnier (to cook off the alcohol) for approximately 2 minutes (be sure not to let the cranberries burn, as the liqueur will ignite). Then using a hand whisk or a stand mixer, combine the cooked cranberries, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and orange juice until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, combine and whip all the batter ingredients together.

Using a spatula, evenly distribute the filling onto four pieces of bread and then top each piece of bread with another piece of bread as if making a sandwich.

Heat a saute pan containing 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium heat.

Dip the prepared bread into the batter and then place in the pan, making sure not to crowd the pan. Cook the French toast until golden brown in color, then flip to cook the opposite side until golden brown in color. Spoon the thinned marmalade over each piece of French toast before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 825 calories; 47 g fat (23 g saturated fat; 51 percent calories from fat); 67 g carbohydrates; 40 g sugar; 424 mg cholesterol; 583 mg sodium; 19 g protein; 2 g fiber.

Spicy Jambalaya

2 ounces unsalted butter

1/2 pound andouille rope sausage, sliced thin

1/4 cup paprika

1/8 cup cumin

1 tablespoon (or less) cayenne pepper (depending on heat level you prefer)

1 tablespoon black pepper

21/2 tablespoons salt

2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken stock

/ white onion — sliced thin

1 red bell pepper — sliced thin

3 ribs celery — sliced thin

1 tablespoon cooking oil

12 raw peeled and deveined shrimp (21/25 size works great)

12 ounces chargrilled chicken breast, sliced thin

4 cups prepared white rice

4 tablespoons fresh cut green onions

In a stock pot, combine the butter and the sausage. Cook until incorporated, then add paprika, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, and salt to the pot. Stir to incorporate and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice and the chicken stock to the pot and let simmer for 10 minutes, then add white onion, bell pepper and celery and let simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.

In a large saute pan, heat the cooking oil, add the raw shrimp and cook until the shrimp are 3/4 of the way cooked, approximately 1 and 1/2 minutes per side. Add the char-grilled chicken and heat for an additional 2 minutes. Then add the jambalaya base and the prepared rice and mix well.

Serve the jambalaya in individual bowls and garnish with fresh cut green onions.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 835 calories; 39 g fat (15 g saturated fat; 42 percent calories from fat); 67 g carbohydrates; 6 g sugar; 200 mg cholesterol; 5,748 mg sodium; 52 g protein; 9 g fiber.

Key Lime Pie

2 cans sweetened condensed milk (14 ounce cans)

8 large egg yolks

3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (use key limes if possible)

2 tablespoons grated lime zest

1 prepared 9-inch graham cracker shell

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, gently whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and the egg yolks. Add lime juice and lime zest and whisk until a smooth consistency has been achieved.

Pour the mixture into the prepared graham cracker shell. Tap it on the counter so the filling flattens out. Then place the pie in the center of the oven for 15-17 minutes until the filling is set but still quivers when the pan is touched.

Let the pie completely cool on a cooling rack. Chill the pie before serving (you can chill in the freezer if you are in a hurry).

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 532 calories; 21 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 36 percent calories from fat); 76 g carbohydrates; 73 g sugar; 246 mg cholesterol; 304 mg sodium; 12 g protein; 1 g fiber.