Angie Mar is one of those chefs you hear about through the grapevine as a chef with such talent, passion, and understanding that she could thrive in any kitchen.
Now after only 6 years in the kitchen, Angie has put in the work and is now in the spotlight after Food + Wine named her on their Best New Chefs of 2017 list. From her humble start at Marlow & Sons in Brooklyn with Andrew Tarlow where she learned to truly cook, to her time with April Bloomfield at The Spotted Pig, Angie Mar has continued to prove that she is a true leader in the industry.
Angie Mar has now gone out on her own and has purchased Graydon Carter’s The Beatrice Inn to show the world what food with a soul really looks like.
What was your inspiration to get cooking?
For me, food has been such a huge part of my upbringing. I come from a family of restaurateurs, and although I fought it and went into the corporate world at a young age, I ended up coming back to what my family has always done. I was in commercial real estate for a very long time, but always felt unfulfilled. I took some time off and travelled to East Africa and Spain. It was when I was in Spain that I realized that I should be cooking. When I came back to the states, I enrolled in culinary school, moved to New York, and have never looked back.
Who were your Chef role models when starting out?
Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud have always been some of my favorites. However, I’ve always loved cookbooks, and one of my favorite authors has always been Nigel Slater. I think that there is such a romantic notion behind his cooking and his food and that’s something I looked for when I started cooking.
How did your time at The Spotted Pig and Marlow & Sons influence your career?
Working for Andrew Tarlow was an amazing experience. It was at Reynard, Marlow and Diner that I truly learned how to cook. Andrew has the most incredible sense of hospitality that I carry over to my restaurant today. My time at the Pig was also an incredible learning experience. April is an amazing woman- working for her gave me a dedication to perfection that I did not know existed before.
What was the defining moment you knew you wanted to buy the Beatrice Inn from Graydon Carter?
I think that every chef’s end game is to have something be truly their own creation and concept. I was already in the process of putting together a business plan for a new concept when the opportunity came up. Pat La Frieda is a dear friend of mine, and has been a great mentor in my career. I called him to ask his advice and he told me I’d be crazy not to buy the Beatrice. It’s so rare that we get the privilege of being part of an establishment that is so rooted in New York’s history, so I’m just really excited to be a part of it.
Was there an attachment to the space itself?
There’s always an attachment to the building just like there will be an attachment to the kitchen. The Beatrice Inn started out as one of New York’s first speakeasies. Some of the great luminaries such as F.Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Zelda would drink at the bar. It then became a family owned Italian restaurant where iconic New Yorkers would come to eat. Paul Draper who was an American tap dancer dined often and legend has it that he would finish his veal melanese and then tap dance on the table tops. It’s truly an iconic space and I am thrilled that we are able to write its next chapter.
What was the first thing you changed once you took over?
When we took over the Beatrice, it was such an exciting time. I decided to close the restaurant for the month of August so we could make small alterations to the space, as well as work on the menu. It was so liberating to start with a blank slate. My team and I spent the entire month of August barricaded in the Beatrice, recipe testing, brainstorming, reading cookbooks and dreaming up new ideas.
What does the menu look like now?
Our menu at the Beatrice is based on my love of meat. It’s what I grew up eating, and what I am tremendously passionate about. When I was writing the menu for the new Beatrice, I pulled inspiration from my childhood. My father is Chinese American and my mother grew up bouncing back and forth between Oxford and Taipei, so I had a childhood filled with meat pies, steaks and jasmine rice.
What’s your favorite menu item?
My favorite item in the menu right now is the whiskey aged beef. It’s completely different and no one is implementing this technique. It’s something tremendously special.
You speak a lot about food with soul, what does that mean to you?
For me, it means food with a story, with romance. Food should be sexy, and really mess with your mind. Really great food should make you think things and feel things that are both familiar and new, comforting and exciting. Really great dishes do all of those things.
What are the plans for the future?
The possibilities are endless! Right now I’m so focused on the Beatrice. My hope is that the Bea will become a New York standard. It’s got such an amazing history to it and it is such an honor for me to be a part of its future. I don’t really think of “celebrity chef” as an end game to be honest. I’m so thrilled at the accolades we’ve been awarded, but for me, being in the kitchen every night, touching, tasting, creating the food— that is what is paramount.
Whatever you are doing seems to be working, what is the Angie Mar 101 for running a successful restaurant?
Stay humble, cook with humility, bring your team around you up, as best you can, and work harder, faster and more efficiently than anyone else. Most of all, staying true to your own vision. I’ve never been one to conform to rules, or expectations. We cook for ourselves. We cook the food that we want to eat and that makes us happy— and when our guests enjoy it as much as we do, and they understand the soul and the vision behind it, it’s all the better. My motivation would be quite simply, that we are so privileged to feed others. It’s really something very special.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos of Angie Mar, food and interiors courtesy of The Beatrice Inn. To learn more about Angie Mar and her menu, visit the The Beatrice Inn website.