Chef Joshua Bartram is no stranger to hard work, “I always knew what I wanted to do.” In high school, Bartram began pursuing his culinary dream by attending a hospitality magnet school for a few hours each day. After school, he would work at an apprenticeship and then cook at a restaurant into the evening.
His earliest memory associated with food was at the age of five years old baking bread with his mother. As a middle child, he spent a lot of time indoors where he found himself helping out in the kitchen. “Food is very memory driven. I have a lot of fond memories of childhood centered around food,” Bartram says. As a native of Connecticut, Bartram had an unconventional childhood growing up on a farm where his family hunted for meat, milked cows, pickled and made everything from scratch. This experience taught him to appreciate the time invested into food preparation. “Far too often people are used to receiving instant gratification. They want an amazing experience right now and then to quickly move on to another amazing experience. It is so important to slow down and honor the process that goes into creating a meal,” explains Bartram.
Bartram apprenticed under Allen Susser, who was a pioneer of the “Mango Gang” of chefs during the 1980s-1990s. Susser introduced Floribbean cuisine in the way of mangos, coconuts, and lemongrass from Caribbean and Latin American influences to South Florida. Susser taught Bartram to, “think outside the box” by showing him that different styles of cooking could be incorporated into fine dining.
Post-secondary school, Bartram majored in nutrition and dietetics at Florida International University. There he learned techniques like plate design and maintaining a caloric balance in each dish. Bartram spent twelve years working in South Beach at popular establishments like the Diplomat, Tradewinds, Sonesta and the Perry.
Currently, he is the executive chef at Truluck’s, a fine dining seafood and steak restaurant located in Fort Lauderdale. At Truluck’s, he follows a Constitution, “We believe when we take care of the people, Truluck’s will take care of itself.” This segment of the Constitution resonates with some of the issues that Bartram has witnessed within the restaurant business. He calls attention to the need for a work/life balance to prevent mental health issues, addiction and burnout in the hospitality industry. “Treat people like human beings. People need to feel valued. We can’t push people to their breaking point,” says Bartram. One of the most rewarding experiences as an executive chef is making people happy and making memories. “To see people’s faces light up and make their night, makes all of the work worth it,” Bartram confirms.
As far as where Bartram’s epicurean journey will take him, he has always had the same goal. “I’d like to one day open a bed and breakfast and make it a family affair. Family comes first.”