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.