‘Hell’s Kitchen’ chef Van Hurd joins Fire by Forge in Hartford

‘Hell’s Kitchen’ chef Van Hurd joins Fire by Forge in Hartford

Former “Hell’s Kitchen” contestant Van Hurd is the new executive chef at Hartford’s Fire by Forge, the restaurant announced this week.

Hurd, a native Texan, competed on the sixth season of the FOX reality show with Gordon Ramsay in 2008, along with an all-star season in 2017. He befriended his co-contestant Kevin Cottle (now the head of the culinary team at Middlefield’s Fire at the Ridge) in his first season and moved north in 2009 after the show wrapped, joining Cottle at the Country Club of Farmington.

His career led him from there to the former Jordan Caterers, Sayulita in Glastonbury and Taino Smokehouse in Meriden and Middletown, where he was the corporate executive chef. Most recently, he worked for Bourassa Catering & Events in Wallingford.

Fire by Forge took over the former Firebox on Broad Street in April 2023, which closed during the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020 after 13 years in the capital city. The restaurant is managed by Forge City Works, a Hartford-based nonprofit that provides culinary job training and food access, and offers upscale-casual Pan-American cuisine, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

“This concept reflects the diverse cultures and influences of our Frog Hollow neighborhood, as well as the backgrounds of many of our culinary trainees,” the restaurant’s website notes.

Fire by Forge was also named one of Connecticut Magazine’s top new restaurants in 2024.

“I am thrilled to join the team at Forge City Works and Fire by Forge. The existing restaurant and catering operations share my commitment to creativity and excellence,” Hurd said in a statement. “But honestly, I am most excited to learn about and be part of the job training mission that Forge City Works has been doing for over 15 years.”

“We are thrilled to have Chef Hurd join our team here at Forge City Works and our social enterprise Fire by Forge,” said Ben Dubow, executive director of Forge City Works, in a statement. “His leadership, passion for food and hospitality, diverse experience, and professional accomplishments will help us continue to elevate our restaurant, hospitality, and most importantly our culinary job training experience.”

As a social enterprise of Forge City Works, Fire by Forge is fully integrated with its culinary and customer service job training program, according to its website. Forge City Works provides transitional employment opportunities, internships, and apprenticeships to people over the age of 18 with barriers to employment, such as poverty, incarceration, the experience or risk of homelessness, addiction and recovery.

Rate this post