In a city obsessed with all things vegan, Angie Mar, has bravely charted her own (meat-centric) course since becoming executive chef of The Beatrice Inn, a former hipster nightclub and perennial celebrity magnet. Here, the stylish Mar, an alum of April Bloomfield’s much lauded The Spotted Pig, talks about her two years at the helm, how Graydon Carter, the Vanity Fair editor in chief/restaurateur, gave her the chance of a lifetime, and some exciting new plans for 2016.
Did you want be a chef when you were young?
I didn’t, even though my family was in the restaurant industry and I grew up around it. My aunt was Ruby Chow, a pioneer in Chinese cooking. I was in the corporate world before I became a chef, but I was bored and unhappy with the 9 to 5. I took time off to travel in Europe and I realized I should be cooking. I returned to New York and have never looked back.
Any mentors or chefs whose work you particularly admire?
Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec, a butcher in Paris. I was lucky to have spent time with him in April of last year. He taught me so much and is a big part of what what we’re doing with meat and dry aging, for example, in whiskey. We’ll be rolling out some of this full time in September. No one in the U.S. is dry aging beef the way we are. Pat LaFrieda has also been a good friend, a fantastic mentor, and a driving force behind what we’re doing.
The Beatrice Inn is very meat-centric. Why is that?
One of great things about this restaurant—my sous chef, my crew—we only cook things that we’re really passionate about. We’re not cooking just to please the crowd. I’m one of the few chefs in New York who will say I don’t love vegetables. What we really cook is meat, primarily beef. Our food is real. It has integrity behind it.
How did you get the Beatrice Inn gig?
I was the sous-chef at April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig and was happy there. They [the Beatrice Inn] pursued me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was a great opportunity, a blank canvas, a chance to bring something back to life.
What were the challenges when you started the job?
It was taking something that already existed and overhauling it, but not closing the doors! I took over in October, which as you know is the busiest time of the year, and changed the menu, top to bottom, to the food I wanted to do.
How did you change it?
We threw out the entire menu. It’s very rare to come in to a new place and have such freedom. Not a lot of restaurant owners will allow you that. I didn’t have a ridiculous resume when I came in, so for them to give me that trust, to let me take it where I wanted—I’m never going to be able to thank Graydon enough!
What are some new dishes for spring?
We’re constantly evolving as well as bringing back some favorites. We’ll have charred lamb and razor clam risotto, the Butcher Block–it’s always on the menu but for spring you’ll see a lot of beautifully aged meats like beef and lamb–and morel gravy pie. My father makes an amazing lamb chop with a marmalade glaze and we’ll be doing a dish inspired by him–a hickory smoked and dry aged rack of lamb with an orange and apricot marmalade. When truffles come in from Italy in spring and summer we use them to stuff a whole Amish chicken, which is then slow roasted.
What do you eat when you’re working?
Chefs probably have the worst diets. It’s ironic. What we do everyday is feed people, but we can’t feed ourselves. I rarely eat a full meal when I’m working, because I’m tasting things all day. There’s not a plate I don’t taste. I drink a lot of black coffee, though, and green juices.
How long is your day?
Between 12 and 14 hours, from 11:30 in the morning to 1:30 AM, six days a week.
The restaurants you like to dine at besides the Beatrice Inn?
Since I cook so much meat, I go for lobster rolls at the Pear Oyster Bar on Cornelia Street. Late at night, I head to Carbone and hang out there.
Any new projects?
I’m really excited about several pop-ups, one with Rchard Turner from Hawksmoor in London. I love Rchard—he’s a great chef and a dear friend. Whenever I can, I like to host other chefs. He will be here in May cooking food from his restaurants. Then the first week in September I’m doing a pop up with Richard in London. In May we’ll also have a pop up at Madison Square Eats—presenting our dry aged burger, which we’ll call the Beatrice Burger. It’s going to be fun.
Favorite fashion labels in and out of the kitchen.
When I’m working I live in Tilit’s chef wear, and vintage rock and roll tees when I’m just recipe testing and being creative. Also labels like Vince, Helmut Lang, and Yigal Azrouel. I love dressing up and for that I’ll wear Dries van Noten and Dolce and Gabbana.
Secrets of your success?
It’s having a good team around you. My kitchen crew is everything to me–I would be nowhere without them. Pat LaFrieda has been a huge supporter and mentor. We have a great PR team. And our regular customers, who come in every week and talk about us to their friends. At the end of the day, no matter how much people write about us, it’s all about the food. That’s all that matters.