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Food The Chefs:

Chef Angie Mar – The Beatrice Inn

Photography by Winnie Au

Admittedly I have a thing for meat. It’s primal craving I cannot deny, and it seems to have been passed down to my child. The Calderones are decidedly carnivores. What I did not realize until recently, when I had the pleasure of cooking a lavender-wrapped 90-day dry-aged rib eye with Chef Angie Mar of The Beatrice Inn, is that apparently I also have a mild obsession with women in meat. As Angie and I were cooking and goofing around in the teeny Beatrice Inn kitchen, it became obvious to me that I swoon female butchers.

In developing some of the recipes for Cook Beautiful, I collaborated with Cara Nicoletti, a badass butcher who comes from a lineage of meat pros and has a love of rainbow sausages. She and I had SUCH a good time in the kitchen together. She was fiery and fun and brought out the best in me as we developed flavors and tested new techniques—although no doubt the two of us did make quite a mess together.

And now, here I was standing beside Angie, a fierce female powerhouse of a chef, as she hacked away at a hunk of meat. Cooking alongside her, this same sense of admiration bubbled to the surface. She is a woman with soul, passion, strong leadership abilities, and humility. In taking on the next chapter of The Beatrice Inn’s storied history, Angie recently received two top accolades—a glowing review in the New York Times and a distinction as one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs”.

Perhaps I found my meat maven kindred spirit in Angie, as she has shared, “I wake up thinking about meat and I go to sleep thinking about meat. It’s just something that I am incredibly passionate about. Its speaks to our primal nature and the animal inside us all.” IT SURE DOES! And so, with her vast expertise and intensity, during our time in the kitchen together Angie taught me how to butcher a steer. All throughout, this lovely lady was patient, warm, and downright fun. Angie talked about how her single objective when she and her cousin took over The Beatrice Inn about a year ago was to return it to its status as a neighborhood gem. “I wanted The Bea to be a place where my imagination would run wild, where people would be able to come and have a tremendous time with perfect food, Michelin-starred service, and none of the pretension. Food and dining out should be fun.”

Well, those cheerful, at-ease, and quirky sides of our own personalities revealed themselves as we sat down to indulge in that lavender-infused steak dripping in anchovy butter. At the corner of the bar that I am sure has many stories to tell, we both leaned in, Lady and the Tramp style, to share a smoking (literally) green goddess of a grasshopper cocktail. Unclear who is the lady and who is the tramp here—we joked about how there is a duality inside each of us, part lady, part tramp, sometimes soft and often hard, and steely, intuitive, and emotional at once. Isn’t that simply the makeup of all women?

As we ate we talked about Angie’s forthcoming cookbook, I shared the journey of my own book and offered her some recipes testers to use. I walked away feeling like we as women are continuing to make strides in workplace equality. Women can uplift other women, share, and learn from each other. We can teach one another what it is to lead ourselves, a team, and a kitchen. We can build community. We can celebrate and make food memories.

Angie undoubtedly did what she set out to do in making The Beatrice Inn into a restaurant that celebrates family and history. There we can feel at home as we devour Angie’s dishes. With just five to six components per plate, she describes her food as restrained and like music, celebrating high and low notes, masculine and feminine influences. Thank you, Angie, we are indeed bopping along to the tune of your song.

The Beatrice Inn

Chef Angie Mar

How would you describe the food you create at The Beatrice Inn? What is the core value represented in the food?
The Beatrice, for me, is all about family and history. All of the dishes on the menu represent food memories, or a refreshed version of food that I ate as a child or on my travels. Some of the dishes have historical roots, going back to the Renaissance period, or Medieval Times. I suppose you could say that I’ve really never met a Medieval dish I didn’t like. We look at food a bit differently I suppose, almost like music…high and low notes, masculine and feminine influences. And we put those on the plate with no more than five or six components.

You breathed new life into the restaurant when you took the reigns. How did you formulate your vision in revamping it?
The Bea has such a storied history, and I am just so thrilled to part of its next chapter. When my cousin and I bought the restaurant last year, we wanted it to represent family, to go return it to its neighborhood gem roots. I wanted The Bea to be a place where my imagination would run wild, where people would be able to come and have a tremendous time with perfect food, Michelin-starred service, and none of the pretension. Food and dining out should be fun.

What is it about meat that speaks to you?
I wake up thinking about meat and I go to sleep thinking about meat. It’s just something that I am incredibly passionate about. It speaks to our primal nature and the animal inside us all.

What did you change about the décor and vibe of The Beatrice Inn when you took over? How do you want people to feel in the space?
I actually didn’t change much! The space was so stunning when I bought it that I wanted to leave it as it was. I brought in some really great pieces of art to reflect my tastes, which are an eclectic mix of high-low. I have the neon piece “Emotional Supplies” by Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos and a “Vandal Gummy” by WhIsBe. But we also paid homage to the rich history of The Beatrice by leaving the original sconces from when it was an Italian restaurant and hanging the disco ball from when it was the famed night club.

Tell me about the dish we made, Lavender-Wrapped 90-Day Rib Eye.
This is such a special piece of beef. We are the only ones in the country to implement this technique. It’s smoked with French oak then buried in lavender for 90 days to dry age.

What inspired you to you become a chef and what was the genesis to where you are today?
Cooking and food have always been my passion. I come from a family of restaurateurs but was always pushed to not go into the business. But I suppose it’s in my blood.

Your favorite dish at The Beatrice Inn? Most popular?
It’s very hard to pick a favorite as everything is so close to my heart. But the milk0braised pork shoulder is a dish that is home for me. It’s family. I’ve been cooking it since I was 15!

Biggest turning points in your career?
I am so thankful to have had such a huge year. Buying The Beatrice was just the beginning. But I am truly humbled at our review in the [New York] Times from [Pete] Wells and of course to be a part of the Food & Wine Best New Chefs. I am looking forward to what is next!

Last life-changing, swoon-worthy food experience (at a restaurant, someone’s kitchen, etc.)?
My last swoon-worthy experience was this summer in San Sebastian. I waited in the rain, chain-smoking outside of Bar Nestor from early morning to sink my teeth into his famed steak.

You are the master of steak! Any advice for home cooks on how to properly cook it so it’s as juicy and flavorful as possible?
Temper your meat! I always leave my steaks to temper for about 40 minutes or so, so they will cook more evenly. Resting is a step that I think most home cooks forget to do. Resting your meat after it’s cooked is an essential part of the process. It allows the juices to redistribute and in turn will provide you with a juicer, more succulent piece of meat.

Five ingredients you couldn’t live without?
Salt, beef fat, thyme, garlic, honey.

What song would be the soundtrack to your cooking?
‘Round Midnight, Miles Davis.

A childhood or college snack you’re mildly embarrassed you still love?
Twix bars.

The five local, go-to restaurants or cafes you frequent?
Sushi Seki, Carbone, Xi’an Famous Foods, Dante, Nakazawa.

Your ideal meal is… With…
My ideal dinner would be with my family and friends, and lots of beef.

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