Monday, October 23, 2017

Chefs from West Hartford’s The Cook and the Bear Receive Accolades and National Attention

The Powerhouse Duo of Chef Tyler Anderson and Pit Master Jamie McDonald are Causing a Sensation on the Restaurant Scene

The Cook and the Bear

Within only three months of opening West Hartford’s newest dining experience, The Cook & The Bear at Blue Back Square, already has accolades and attention streaming in for the co-owners, the staff, and, of course, the acclaimed craft barbeque food and unique beverages. 

“The Cook” Tyler Anderson, also of Millwright’s Restaurant in Simsbury, was just announced as one of the competitors on Bravo TV’s fifteenth season of Top Chef, debuting this December. Chef Anderson is no stranger to national audiences having won Chopped and competed on Beat Bobby Flay. In addition to his upcoming appearance on this high-profile show, Anderson was nominated as a semi-finalist for the third time for the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Northeast.
Not to be outdone, Jamie “The Bear” McDonald, the owner of Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ, was recently named – alongside his wife, Cheryl McDonald – a Polaris Award winner by Leadership Greater Hartford. This honor was bestowed on the McDonald’s due to their advocacy for the City of Hartford, Bear’s commitment to fair wages for employees with non-tipped workers receiving $15 an hour, and for their many philanthropic endeavors. In addition, Jamie McDonald has also been selected Alumni of the Year by his alma mater, Hartford’s Trinity College

The Connecticut Restaurant Associationhas nominated The Cook & The Bear, which is owned in partnership with A.J. Auricchio, in the category of “Best Newcomer” for their 2017 CRA Awards. Joining in the attention are The Cook & The Bear’s Pastry Chef Kristin Eddy (nominated for “Rising Star” for her work at TC&TB and Millwright’s) and bartender Aaron Stepka (nominated for “Best Mixologist”). 

With their combined backgrounds of Jamie McDonald’s award-winning classic Kansas City BBQ and Millwright’s fine dining, The Cook & The Bear takes taste buds on a casual-food journey combining adventurous New England with a twist of southern comfort. The restaurant itself highlights the marriage of two distinct visions. The capacious bar area features a bright, New England clapboard feel reminiscent of Millwright’s 17th century home in Simsbury while the dining area takes its rich, dark brown hues from Bear’s smokehousemilieu.

Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ has two popular locations in Windsor and Hartford’s Front Street, as well as a Bear’s Express takeout location in South Windsor. Jamie “The Bear” McDonald’s take on Kansas City BBQ was deemed “Excellent” by The New York Times, was named Casual Restaurant of the Year by the Connecticut Restaurant Association, and was voted Best BBQ and Best New Restaurant by the readers of CT NOW. Reflecting his expansive vision, McDonald opened the acclaimed Blind PigPizza in downtown Hartford in 2016 and, this summer, he debuted Chango Rosa, his fun and funky take on Latin street food at Hartford’s Union Station.

Tyler “The Cook” Anderson, a California native, has fallen in love with New England farms, aspiring to use foods within a 150 miles radius to provide fresh flavor. Chef Anderson honed his skills, learning from master chefs in Chicago at the Ritz Carlton, which achieved the highest Zagat rating and a Mobil Five-Star rank during his tenure. During his time at the Prairie Grass CafĂ©, he helped the restaurant receive the designation of one of the “50 Hottest Restaurants in the United States” from Bon Appetit. He was executive chef for Equinox in Manchester, VT and Arrabelle in Vail, CO.

At Pip’s at the Copper Beech Inn, Anderson’s spin on regional New England fare earned a five-star review in Hartford Magazine and was voted best new restaurant by Connecticut Magazine. At Millwright’s in Simsbury, he has received perfect score reviews from The New York Times, Connecticut Magazine, Hartford Magazine, and has earned four nominations for the prestigious Best Chef Northeast James Bear Award. Chef Tyler has twice (2014, 2015) been nominated for the prestigious Best Chef Northeast James Beard Award, and in 2014 was named Chef of the Year by the Connecticut Restaurant Association. Chef Anderson was the winner of the Food Network’s Chopped in 2009 and appeared on the popular Beat Bobby Flay in 2014.

Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, Noon to Midnight (kitchen open until 10 PM11 PM on Friday & Saturday), Sunday Noon to 10 PM (kitchen open until 9 PM) with the brunch menu available until 3 PM.  The Cook & The Bear offers happy hour specials Monday through Thursday. Reservations are not accepted, however the restaurant recommends calling in advance for a waitlist or downloading their The Cook & The Bear App to prebook your spot in line. The restaurant is located at 50 Memorial Road, Blue Back Square in West Hartford, Connecticut. 860-595-3345 and online at


  1. Haven’t been to eiether! Will have to go!

    1. I've only been to the Cook and the Bear - but this gives me reasons to go visit each of their restaurants! There are some fabulous Chefs in Connecticut!


Real Time Web Analytics