NORTH ADAMS -- Nick Moulton has only been working as Public Eat + Drink's new chef since September, but the North Adams native has had his eye on the location for years.
"The building where Public is, there have been four or five other restaurants there," said Moulton. "I decided if I ever came back, I wanted to work in that building, whether it would be my restaurant or someone else's."
Moulton got his wish in September, taking on his first full chef position at a restaurant. Previously, Moulton served as a sous-chef at Mezze Bistro and the Orchards Hotel in Williamstown.
Neither of these positions were a surprise for Moulton, who has been interested in food as far back as he can remember.
"I started working as a dishwasher at Water Street Grill at 13 years old," Moulton said. "Around the age of 15, there was almost an obsession with food that I started to gain."
For Moulton, the path to a culinary career seemed obvious.
"Around the age of 15, I started thinking, ‘What do I want to do when I grow up?' Besides sports, I was never really good at anything else; cooking was all I really knew," said Moulton. "But with the encouragement of my family, and my wife right now, I applied to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park [N.Y.]"
Moulton's now-wife was his high school sweetheart at 16 years old, and pushed him to follow his dreams. Moulton enrolled at the CIA in 2006, where he confirmed his career path.
"I just have a crazy love for food, and respect for ingredients," Moulton said. "At the CIA, they teach you classical French cuisine and and classical French techniques. Now I think of myself as a perfectionist when I cook."
Moulton graduated with his associate degree in culinary arts in 2008, and moved back to the Berkshires. His attention to cooking had been noted and rewarded with an invitation to cook at the James Beard foundation in New York City, as well as invitations to trail through some well-known kitchens in Boston.
After a few years as a sous-chef in Williamstown, Moulton decided it was time to find his first chef position.
"[Public Owner] Jared [Decoteau] had opened up the restaurant," said Moulton. "We started talking, and I decided to make a move back to Public. Me being a 25-year-old chef, I'm young and ambitious, so my mind is constantly running with new food ideas, and we decided to rewrite the menu."
Since September, Moulton has been updating the menu and changing the food.
"I feel that right now the food is really good, honest, simple food," said Moulton. "I'm going to try to build relationships with farms to source ingredients locally, take my cooks out with me to forage for ingredients, and not a lot of people do that."