Haley Gabel Bittermann was born in 1966 in New York, to a British born mother who was a cardiac researcher. She moved to, and was raised in Cincinnati where her mother worked for the university. Haley began working in a family-run restaurant while going through her three years as a pre-med major, first as a busser, then bartender, then server. After hurting her knee, she couldn’t manage the dining room staircase, so she asked to be transferred to the kitchen. That’s when she was “hooked”.
She attended the Culinary Arts Academy of Cincinnati, an affiliate of the CIA, and as a part of her curriculum, she applied for an externship at Ralph & Cindy Brennan’s Mr. B’s Bistro in the New Orleans French Quarter. After graduation in 1990, she returned as a line cook at Mr. B’s under Great Chef Gerard Maras.
In 1991, Ralph & Cindy Brennan opened BACCO, a Creole Italian restaurant, with Haley as sous chef. She later left for Tattoo, in Aspen, CO with her extern boyfriend. Yearning to get back to New Orleans, in 1993, she made a quick trip back for Jazz Fest. One of her first stops was to see her old friends at Mr. B’s, where the unexpected invitation to become executive chef of BACCO, which she helped open, was music to her ears. At age 27, she became the youngest executive chef to head a kitchen in one of the Brennan family restaurants, and the first woman to do so. Her mentors were the late Great Chef Jamie Shannon at Commander’s Palace (who took over from Emeril Lagasse) and Gerard Maras of Mr. B’s. It was then that the Great Chefs team caught up with Haley and recorded several dishes for their “Louisiana New Garde” television series for the Discovery Channel
In 2011, the lease to BACCO expired, and Haley Gabel Bittermann became the Executive Corporate Chef of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, opening new restaurants that include Red Fish Grill, Jazz Kitchen, Ralph’s on the Park, café b, Heritage Grill, Café NOMA, and Brennan’s. Probably one of the most exciting projects to date was the re-opening of the original Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street in New Orleans French Quarter in late November 2014, after a major renovation.