2017-06-08 / News

‘Butter’ late than never for Hallorans

Chef’s recipes shed new light on, use for traditional dairy product

Center Street residents Brian and Lori Halloran sell a stick of their finishing butter to Susanne Clarke at a farmers market last week in Newport. 
PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Center Street residents Brian and Lori Halloran sell a stick of their finishing butter to Susanne Clarke at a farmers market last week in Newport. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Make it better with butter.

That’s the message being lauded by the Hallorans, a Center Street couple that has founded Butter Cuisine, a company with ambitions to make the dairy product more than a toast topper. Brian Halloran, a veteran chef who was trained in one of the world’s great restaurant, said his recipes could become a main attraction at the dinner table.

Brian and Lori Halloran began selling Butter Cuisine’s line of finishing butters at farmers markets this spring. The culinary creations, either from the milk of mammals or coconuts, showcase ingredients not typically found in butter. For example, one of the top sellers is a Mediterranean butter, which includes Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, garlic, basil and Parmesan cheese. According to Halloran, his recipes are designed through “flavor marriages,” which he said is the complementary combinations of different flavors.

“When you pair basil with tomato, you might not think the zest of an orange goes with it,” he said. “Or if you pair coconut oil with lime, it’s a terrific combination for shellfish.”

Halloran hand makes the butter with locally sourced herbs and spices. While the butter can be used traditionally to liven up a piece of bread, it works just as well on meats, pasta and vegetables.

“These butters are our customers’ solutions to creating a restaurant-quality meal easily at home,” Lori said. “They intensify the flavor of every single bite.”

The Hallorans have lived together in Jamestown since 1999. The company, in its inaugural year, is the latest venture in Brian’s illustrious career as a chef, which stretches back to the early 1980s. He began working at both the Clarke Cooke House in Newport and the Locke Ober Cafe in Boston in 1980, eventually rising to executive chef at both establishments in 1981. While running those kitchens, the owner sent Halloran to France for three consecutive years to train under Michelin three-star chef Roger Verge at the Frenchman’s iconic Moulin de Mougins restaurant on the French Riviera. It was there that Halloran first used butter as a principal ingredient.

“(Verge) was one of the pioneers of regional cuisine,” Halloran said. “I learned how to pair flavors with butter and in sauces to become very palatable and make restaurant-quality dishes out of butter.”

From 1989 to 2000, Halloran taught food service management at Cornell University. When he left the Ivy League, he began developing frozen foods for retail seafood companies, working for global brands such as Gorton’s, Lean Cuisine and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. The traveling, however, was becoming too much to bear so he decided to leave the manufacturing industry in 2016. He threw his hands up and pleaded to his wife.

“I can’t stay in an airplane every week,” he hold her. “It’s just killing me.”

During the course of six weeks, the couple searched farmers markets to find inspiration for a product they could create, market and sell. They asked themselves: What’s not being offered? That’s when Halloran, who used finishing butter often during his culinary career, connected the dots.

“We went everywhere. No one was doing finishing butters.”

The Hallorans set up Butter Cuisine at Hope & Main in Warren, a nonprofit incubator with office space for start-up culinary companies. Research began in January and they began selling their butters at the Aquidneck market in Newport and Middletown by May. So far, the feedback has been “extremely positive.”

“We’ve been contacted by local markets that are very intrigued and want to carry our butters,” she said. “That’s after two weeks being in business.”

Butter Cuisine will take a planned two-week hiatus from the markets starting next week. Islanders interested in their butter, however, will be able to do so without braving the Pell Bridge traffic: Three of their recipes will be on the shelves at Grapes & Gourmet by Monday.

The Hallorans introduced the butters to store owner Will Wilson and manager Iain Wilson this weekend. The brothers liked what they tasted — the Ferry Wharf shop will be the first retail outlet to carry Butter Cuisine’s products.

“It seemed like a really good fit,” Iain Wilson said. “We tasted all the butters and they were fantastic. We brought in the lemon caper, the Mediterranean and the coconut Thai.”

A free tasting of the Hallorans’ butter is scheduled from 5-7 p.m. tomorrow at Grapes & Gourmet. The couple couldn’t be happier to have their unique recipes in their hometown.

“We’re thrilled with what’s been going on,” Lori said.

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