“…food is best when it’s in its purest form. My job is to enhance that natural flavor to allow the essence of the food to sing.” -Frank McClelland
Frank McClelland's love of cooking began while growing up on his grandparents' farm in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This interest grew to become a passion and a career as one of the nation’s top chefs. In the kitchen, as well as in the dining room, McClelland is known for his pursuit of perfection, his intensity and a love for what he does. This unending aspiration for perfection has been instrumental in establishing the standard for fine dining in Boston. It is little surprise that “Chef” as he is collegially called, has added farming to his culinary repertoire.
By the age of 25, McClelland had already been a chef in two of the most respected kitchens in Boston - The Harvest in Cambridge and L'Espalier. In 1984, he became Executive Chef at The Country Inn at Princeton in Western Massachusetts where he developed a lasting relationship with the local farmers. McClelland combined his love of regional ingredients with his European techniques to create his own signature cuisine. At The Country Inn he earned a four-star rating from The Boston Globe as well as being named one of the country's top 25 new chefs by Food & Wine.
As it approaches three decades of culinary excellence, L’Espalier has earned the distinction of being one of America’s top 20 dining destinations. L’Espalier is a perennial top-listed eatery on popular national and local “best” restaurant lists, ranging from Zagat to Forbes (Mobil) to Food & Wine, Chowhound.com and Boston Magazine. It is the only independent restaurant in New England bestowed with the AAA Five Diamond Award for eleven consecutive years and its award-winning and “Rising Star” chefs are known for their loyalty in an industry where that can be in short supply. He attributes the enduring legacy of his expanding restaurant venture to the wisdom he receives from his Board of Directors, the hand picked brain trust of CEOs who hail from industries beyond his.
In April 2000, McClelland opened Sel de la Terre, a restaurant steeped in the culinary traditions of Provence, France, with business partner and fellow chef Geoff Gardner. Sel de la Terre opened to rave reviews and was instantly named one of the top 20 new restaurants in America by Esquire magazine. There are three locations – the Natick Collection, Boston’s Back Bay and Waterfront -- and with Chef’s encouragement, the lead Chefs de Cuisine at the three restaurants create menus that reflect a unique personality of each location. In 2007, Au Soleil Bakery & Catering followed to fill the gap of brick oven baked breads and delectable pastries for the restaurants as well as a full regional catering service for weddings, business gatherings and private events.
The time spent on the family farm in New Hampshire provided McClelland with a mastery of time-honored traditions and instilled an appreciation for the joys of life in New England, the diversity of the region’s four seasons, and all the gustatory riches that lie therein. McClelland continues those traditions with his team by living on and working the land of the restaurant’s 14-acre organic farm, Apple Street Farm in Essex MA, which he has rehabilitated in reverence to its 230-year heritage by growing fresh herbs, heirloom fruits and vegetables and raising egg laying chickens and livestock which are fed farm fresh produce and whole grains breads from Au Soleil’s overages. In this he has made a significant commitment toward sustainable agriculture to provide this region’s most memorable and environmentally friendly dining experiences.
McClelland is inspired daily by his four children, Kep, Annie, James and Olivia and their energy and excitement for life's adventures. And he is reminded daily by his constant companion, yellow Labrador, Lance Seawater McClelland, of the important things in life: eat, sleep, play…eat, sleep, play…