The Beatrice Inn's Executive Chef, Angie Mar, talks to us about being named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs, how she's redefining the American steakhouse, and what her first year in business has been like.
After purchasing The Beatrice Inn from Graydon Carter (yes, the same Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair fame), Angie Mar set out to retool the spot's menu and redefine its steakhouse dishes with new flare. Within a year of the restaurant's overhaul, she's won praise from critics, diners, and fellow chefs, scoring a bevy of accolades, including Food & Wine's Best New Chefs honor, Thrillist's NYC Chef of the Year award, and a 2-star review from the New York Times' Pete Wells.
When you hear people say "Angie Mar is bucking the restaurant industry, she's redefining the American steakhouse," what do you make of it all? ANGIE MAR: I always find it very complimentary when people say that, but I don’t really pay attention. I’m not one of these chefs that, like I don’t go out to eat, I don’t, unfortunately, I don’t go and look at other people's food, and then try and draw inspiration. That’s not what I do. I actually kind of prefer to be in my own head.
Like right now, we’re going through a process where we’re writing our fall menu for this year, and I literally have not eaten anything except for sushi in about a month and a half. Because that’s all I’ll eat. I’ll sit in my kitchen, readpiles of cookbooks, and make word webs and all of that stuff. And then, I’ll go out and I’ll have sushi at the end of the day.
You've been able to approach a concept, the American steakhouse, that's so near and dear to New Yorkers' hearts and do it really well without much resistance. What is it that makes The Beatrice Inn's case different? AM: I think that what I love about The Beatrice is that it is unlike any chophouse in the city. When we started this, I didn’t want to go out and say, “Look, I want to do something different than everybody else.” I always wanted to cook my food, and this happens to be my food, and it happens to be very different. But what I love about it is that we’ve been unapologetic about our food. Our food is our food, and it’s not for everybody, and that’s okay. Because I think that, when restaurants try to be everything to everybody, that’s where they fail. I think to cook what we’re truly passionate about makes it that much more important to us.
I just want to cook food that takes you out at your knees. I want you to come in, I want you to eat something off the menu the way we’ve written it, and I want you to truly experience what our vision of food is, through our eyes. I think food is gender-less, it’s race-less, there’s no social status. It’s just good food is good food. And that’s what The Beatrice is really about.
I'm sure there are chefs out there who see you on the cover of Food & Wine and wonder what it would be like to be you. What advice would you give anyone, male or female, about getting into the restaurant business? AM: You know, my experience has been, I think there probably are women out there that have experienced the glass ceiling situation. I was not one of them. I was really fortunate to have worked for amazing people, such as Andrew Tarlow and April Bloomfield, who were always tremendously supportive.
As far as advice, not only just for any woman getting in this industry, for any person trying to get in this industry is that you’ve got to work harder and faster, and stronger than anybody else. And for me, that’s what I look for when I’m hiring. I want the dedication. I want the loyalty. I want the eagerness to learn. That’s what’s really exciting.
That’s how I think, really, people either succeed or they fail. This industry is gritty, and it’s hard, and it requires tremendously long hours. I don’t think a lot of people fully realize that it’s not this glamorized thing. I pull 110, 120-hour weeks consistently, every single week. And that’s the side of it that I think a lot of people don’t fully understand.
So, if you think you’re going into the restaurant business to be a celebrity... AM: You’re grossly mistaken. This is like joining the military. You've got to be 100 percent in. It’s hard work, it’s dedication, it takes a lot. It takes a lot out of you. But I think it also gives back, more than I could ever ask for.
Because you're fabulous, I have to ask you where you shop and go out to eat, when you have time. I need to learn from the best. AM: I love all of the amazing consignment shops in and around New York City. I think they're so fantastic. And as far as eating goes, when I do get out, I love Sushi Seki. You will probably, three times a week, find me, late night, at the bar at Sushi Seki, or Blue Ribbon Sushi. I was actually there last night. Oh! And Carbone. Carbone is my go-to. It’s my second home. It’s really lovely. That’s a place that I’ll close up my restaurant for, go over to, and have a bowl of pasta and some pink champagne at.