Rams Head Tavern is a local hotspot for fresh food and microbrew beers in the middle of Historic Savage Mill. Head chef Brent "Turbo" Shellem recently sat down with Patch to talk about the craft of managing a high quality kitchen.
Name: Brent "Turbo" Shellem, Head Chef Rams Head Tavern in Savage
How do you get a nickname like "Turbo"?
From shucking oysters, back in the nineties, at a restaurant called Middleton Tavern. I was a bar back and bartender at the raw bar.
How long have you been with Rams Head?
I started in 1996, then I left in 2000 for about three years and moved to Texas. I came back around 2004.
How long have you worked in the restaurant business?
At least 20 years.
Did you go to culinary school?
Nope, just trial and error.
What is something people might not know about Rams Head Tavern?
This location is basically three different bars in one. You have the downstairs sports bar, you have the second-level tavern area, and the top level is like a nicer fine dining area. So it's like three restaurants in one, plus the outside area which seats about 100 people. It can get a little crazy in here some days.
What are your favorite types of food to make?
It's all about seafood for me, personally. I love anything seafood.
Does that have anything to do with your days shucking oysters?
Yeah, absolutely. I was born and raised on the Chesapeake Bay, lived in Annapolis. So, I'd rather be on or near the water than away from it. I couldn't stand living in Texas–being landlocked in Austin was horrible.
What's your favorite part about your job?
Every day is different. You never gave the same day twice. It's not like going somewhere and sitting in front of a cubicle for eight hours a day, it's non-stop action twenty four-seven. I love it, and I hate sitting. I don't even like sitting to drive too long.
What's your least favorite part of your job?
Paperwork, because it requires sitting in front of a computer.
What do you say to people about Rams Head to get them in the door?
It's just a fun place to come and hang out, have some good beer, eat some grub and hang with your friends–especially downstairs where you have a pool table, a couple video games, dart boards and music. Music is becoming real key in the Rams Head family now.
Anything else people should know?
It's amazing, we've been here for more than 10 years and we always hear from customers, "Oh, I didn't even know you guys were here!"