By Stephen Seitz
HARTLAND—You have to hand it to Chef Brad Pirkey: he has a loyal following.
Once Woodstock residents Tom and Sue Deedy heard about the new location of Chef Brad’s Crazy Side, now at 6 Damon Road just off Route 12 in Hartland, they had to come over and check it out. The Crazy Side had been located on Route 100A in Bridgewater until a drunk driver demolished the roadside eatery, forcing Pirkey to find a new spot.
The Deedys fondly recalled dining at the Corners Inn restaurant in Bridgewater, which Pirkey owned for 15 years.
“The food was outstanding,” Tom Deedy said. “The chef brought the food to you. Everything was good. I really enjoyed the veal parmigiana.”
“He’s such a good cook,” added Sue Deedy. “We did love it all. I think he’s a legend.”
“I wanted to start before the season ended,” Pirkey said. “Some good friends and all my wonderful customers helped me build a new food truck. They also found me the spot on Damon Road.”
Pirkey operates out of a mobile kitchen—a school bus that includes dining space. Pirkey said he had owned the Corners Inn for about 15 years, but had been trying to sell it for seven. He said he prefers a food truck. “I’m a crazy chef who likes a mobile kitchen these days,” he said. “I like the mobility, and there are far fewer employees. It keeps me busy.”
Pirkey has a broad menu, ranging from basic burger-and-fries to extensive seafood options, with vegan alternatives. He grows much of his own produce. “The big plan is to move to a new location and grow all my own produce,” he said. His seafood is brought in fresh from Boston by E.J. Cully of Maya Papaya in Killington.
“We’re probably most famous for our fish and shrimp tacos,” he said.
Chef Brad’s Crazy Side offers window service, as well as both indoor and outdoor dining. “People need to know that no matter what the weather, they can count on a warm and dry place to eat,” he said. Patrons are asked to bring their own bottles if they wish, and his operation is both child- and pet-friendly.
Pirkey said that when he was 13 years old, he knew he would be a chef. “I’m self-taught,” he explained. “I develop my own recipes. The only ‘A’ I ever received in school was in French. I’d made a quiche.”
There is good news for Killington once the Crazy Side closes for the season: Pirkey will spend the winter at Maya Papaya. He’ll be working with Cully.
“We’ll be selling wholesale fish,” Cully said. “It will be a small produce market as well as a fish market. We’ll also offer breakfast sandwiches and to-go dinners, take-out only. We’ll have a lobster tank with live lobsters.” Cully said he goes to Boston twice a week for fish, with which he supplies “the finer restaurants,” he said.
Pirkey is active on Facebook under “Chef Brad’s Crazy Side,” where he posts specials like falafel or tofu taco, a burger with caramelized onion, bacon and bleu cheese, corn fritters, or mussel bisque.
Chef Brad’s Crazy Side is open 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 12-noon to 8 p.m. on weekends and will stay open through Columbus Day. Pirkey said he is also planning to host a thank you party on Oct. 17 for the loyal customers and good friends who have helped him get back on his feet.