I didn’t meet John Critchley back in 2006 when I was at family-and-friends night at Toro, Ken Oringer’s tapas place in Boston, but I met his dad. John was in the kitchen, as Ken had tapped him as the restaurant’s chef de cuisine. But his dad seemed like a nice guy, so I figured I’d write a profile of his son.
I just happened to be in Boston for work that day, and so Ken’s publicist had suggested I stop by Toro.
I took my friend Michael Gerber and learned that, although Michael is a good New Englander who will pop any sea creature into his mouth with alacrity, he doesn’t really take readily to things like blood sausage and veal cheeks and tripe.
Like Michael, John Critchley is a native of Massachusetts. He has spent much of his career (relatively speaking — he’s only about 31) as a private chef for rich people. His love for the energy of professional kitchens brought him back to restaurants and under Oringer’s wing.
But he’s going off on his own now, to head up the food at Area 31, a restaurant scheduled to open in mid-December on the 16th floor of the Epic Hotel in Miami. The cuisine will be Mediterranean-inspired local seafood — specifically food from Fishing Area 31, which is basically the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the waters off of Florida’s east coast. John shouldn’t have any trouble handling that.