Cooking professionally was not always the plan for Edward Higgins, although his childhood memories of sitting around a huge table with the Sicilian side of his family, sharing stories over a three-hour meal, definitely made an impression on him.
Higgins embarked upon a culinary education after completing his undergraduate studies at Boston College in 1995. Realizing he wanted to pursue a profession that allowed him creative freedom and the opportunity to affect the world in an immediate way, he enrolled in The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in 1996.
After graduating from culinary school, he began at Biba under Lydia Schire in 1996. It was here that he learned the patience necessary to stay true to one’s cooking vision. In 1998 he left Biba for Aujourd’hui at the Four Seasons, one of Boston’s top French restaurants, where he perfected his skills of precision and refinement. In 2001, he headed to New York City to work under Tom Colicchio at Craft, where he began an extensive education in individual ingredients and market-driven food. Immediately after, Higgins joined Marco Canora’s culinary team as sous chef at Hearth, helping to garner a “Best New Restaurant” nominee by the James Beard Foundation.
Influenced by the tragic events of 9/11, Higgins switched gears and followed his dream to travel to Japan, which he did in 2002 and completed his Kaiseki Ryori studies with Master Chef Tadamichi Ohta at Osaka’s Better Home Cooking School. Heading to Tokyo in 2004, he joined Ekki at the Four Seasons Hotel Marunouchi as Chef De Cuisine. During his time in Japan, he took the opportunity to enroll in a Japanese immersion program language and found inspiration in the country’s Zen philosophies, simplicity, and presentation.
He found his way back to New York City in 2006 to join Marco Canora’s culinary team for the second time, this time at Insieme as Chef de Cuisine from 2006 to 2008, earning one Michelin Star in the first year. Canora continued to mentor Higgins, inspiring a humble creativity in him and the skills to showcase an ingredient in its best form possible.
In 2008, Higgins decided to move to the Bay Area for a change of pace, and immediately joined Palo Alto’s Quattro as Executive Sous Chef, where he stayed for four years before joining the team at Bix in March 2013.
I have been coming to BIX for over a decade. I often saddle up to the bar for a killer cocktail made by one of the long serving bartenders (Bill & Michael). The BIX burger is my go to and is unrivaled for its perfect bun & bangin’ flavor! It is as I like to say “top of the pops”!
At Bix, Higgins feels his cooking philosophy is in perfect harmony; combining a love of refined presentation with tasteful, well-sourced ingredients.
We met at Bix for our Foodie Chap chat. I joined Chef in the long galley-like kitchen as he crafted his terribly tasty “BEER FRIED SHRIMP”.
Enjoy the chat & recipe.
KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
(credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
Chef Edward Higgins’ Firecracker Shrimp
Yield: 4 servings
16 shrimp (ask for 16/20 size, peeled and deveined)
Cornstarch for dusting
1 lime, quartered
Oil for frying
Finely ground sea salt
4 1/2 oz all-purpose flour
1 1/2 oz cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking powder
Water (as needed)
1/4 c cumin, ground
6 ea bay leaves
2 tsp cayenne
1 c chili powder
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp garlic (minced)
1 1/2 oz lime juice
1 dried chipotle (rehydrated)
2 oz water
1 c olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1. Make the chipotle aioli by combining all of the ingredients (except for the oil) together in a bowl, then slowly whisk in the oil in a steady stream until thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt if needed.
2. Prepare the spice mixture by grinding the cumin and the bay leaves together in a spice grinder and combing them with the cayenne and chili powder. Set aside.
3. Make the batter by combining all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Stir in cold water using chopsticks or a fork until a thin batter has been achieved. Avoid over mixing, as the batter will become tough when fried. Add in some of the spice mix to suit your personal preference.
4. Preheat the oil to 375∞ F. It should be 3 inches deep in a heavy bottomed, stainless steel or cast iron pot. Dust the shrimp with cornstarch to coat them completely, and shake off any excess. Dip the shrimp into the tempura batter and fry in the preheated oil until golden on one side (approximately 90 seconds), then flip them over and continue frying until the second side is golden as well. Remove the shrimp from the oil, and place them onto paper towels briefly to absorb any excess oil. Season with finely ground sea salt to taste.
5. Serve immediately with a side of chipotle aioli and wedges of lime.