The first lady of meat talks about her journey to reinventing The Beatrice Inn—and the idea of meat-centric restaurants.
Angie Mar loves meat: “I don’t cook food that I’m not truly passionate about. I grew up eating meat—my father had a T-bone steak on our table every night at six o’clock. I wake up thinking about it, I go to sleep thinking about it.”
This obsession is what drives her to constantly push the boundaries of meat cookery and steakhouse culture in New York. Says Jordana Rothman, Food & Wine Restaurant Editor, “Angie Mar is a total superstar. She is really disrupting the steakhouse space in a fascinating way.”
Growing up, Angie was no stranger to professional kitchens. Restaurants were the family business, and her aunt in particular was an accomplished restaurateur in Seattle.
Despite this, she says that she never really saw herself in the industry until a rhapsodic experience in Spain: “I was in Sevilla—I’ll never forget it—I was eating this amazing iberico pork shoulder, and that was kind of the moment that changed it all for me. It was so perfect, and it was medium rare—I just thought, ‘Why am I not cooking? I should be cooking.’”
Fast forward to culinary school in New York and a long stint at Reynard—says Angie, “that’s really where I learned how to butcher meat.” Along the way, she formed a lasting friendship with Pat LaFrieda, expert butcher and meat purveyor to some of NYC’s best restaurants, who helped bring her skills to the next level.
All that was just the preparation she needed to achieve what is, by New York standards, the impossible—turning around an ailing restaurant with such vigor that it became one of the buzziest spots in the city. The Beatrice Inn, where Angie is Executive Chef and owner, had been panned by critic Pete Wells when she took the reins in 2013.
Taking the job wasn’t an easy decision. Angie says, “I called Pat LaFrieda, actually, and I said, ‘Am I going to be crazy to take this job?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, you’re absolutely going to be crazy to take that job. But you’re also going to be crazy if you don’t.”
Since then, her meat-centric menu has earned accolades galore, including two stars from Wells himself, and made The Beatrice one of the hottest tables in New York. A warning to those looking for a light meal—Angie isn’t interested in catering to picky eaters: “I have one fish on the menu. It’s got its head and tail on, and it’s covered in a beef fat crust.”
For more on our latest class of BNCs, check out the rest of the Food & Wine Best New Chefs 2017.