After working in some of New York’s most renowned kitchens and impressively honing her skills at whole animal butchery, Angie Mar made a name for herself in the Big Apple when she purchased legendary The Beatrice Inn. Here is where she developed her signature style of working with live fire, dry-ageing techniques and, of course, buterching whole animals. Shortly after purchasing the restaurant in 2016, Chef Mar was named NYC Chef of the Year by Thrillist.
Chef Angie Mar on the cover of her cookbook, Butcher + Beast
Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, food has always been a big part of Chef Mar’s life. Her aunt was the famed Ruby Chow, who is credited with pioneering Chinese food in Seattle. Kung-fu master Bruce Lee even worked in Chow’s kitchen! Her aunt had a massive impact on Chef Mar’s career, but she has certainly formed her own path.
Chef Mar recently published her first cookbook, Butcher + Beast: Mastering the Art of Meat. Unlike any cookbook you’ve seen before, Butcher + Beast is bold, unapologetic and surprisingly sexy. Alongside 80 unique recipes, you’ll find images of food (and Chef Mar draped in designer gowns) shot entirely on Polaroid camera and varied personal essays on the chef’s cutting-edge dry-ageing techniques, her family, the New York restaurant scene and even champagne.
One of the many hedonistic images in Butcher + Beast
I was fortunate enough to chat to the alluring and charismatic chef before what is sure to be a lavish and delicious pop-up.
How did your love affair with meat begin?
Meat was at the centre of all our family meals when I was in Seattle, so it’s just something that I crave. I go to sleep thinking about it, I wake up craving it. It’s just how I love to eat.
Tell us a bit about your book. How did this project come about?
When I started writing my book, I went through the various cookbooks on my shelves, trying to formulate a concept of what I wanted to achieve. However, while all the books were lovely, they didn’t paint an actual picture of the rawness that is in our industry. I wanted to create a book that was unapologetic and honest and something that celebrated the forever-nocturnal world and decadence of The Beatrice Inn. So, yes, there are recipes, but also essays and glamorous photos by Johnny Miller of my friends and Beatrice Inn regulars such as Diane von Furstenberg, Fernando Garcia, Daniel Boulud, Jacques Pépin and Peter Som among others.
Who has inspired you throughout your culinary journey?
I’m blessed to have been raised by an incredible family. My father, mother and aunt Ruby Chow were huge influences on me, both on my culinary journey but, more importantly, in life in general.
What are you most excited about in terms of bringing your dishes to Hong Kong diners?
I have so many fond memories of Hong Kong when I was young, as my family lived there for years. Visiting as often as I did really helped to form what my palate is today, and many of my food memories are there. I am really elated to share the dishes that I’ve reimagined from my childhood like the milk-braised pork shoulder and our roast duck flambé.
HK diners will enjoy Chef Mar’s roast duck flambé
Your menu at The Beatrice Inn focuses on French cuisine. Is there a reason you went in this direction as opposed to following in your aunt’s footsteps?
I’ve always said that I’m an old French man at heart. I think that’s been the case since I was a child. I may not have followed in her footsteps in regards to type of cuisine, but I did follow her trajectory in the way that we both created a place of celebration and of joy. It’s funny when I think about how similar our paths are...
Spring foie gras
Have you found many challenges being a female Asian-American chef and restaurateur in an industry often dominated by white males?
It’s a challenge regardless to become an influential chef in New York City, regardless of your gender or ethnicity, but I found mentors through the years that were supportive and truly helped to foster and nurture my talent and ambitions.
Let’s talk about veganism. Give us your honest opinion.
I don’t really understand it. To each his own.
Have you encountered much criticism towards your meat-centric approach?
I’ll admit that what I stand for can sometimes be polarising, but it’s not something I worry about. I think most people respect the fact that I’m strong both in my beliefs and as a person. Quite often I see restaurants that try to be something for everyone, and that has never been who I am or what I want. My food has a definitive point of view, and there is something to be said for the creative narrative that it weaves. I don’t think that would be possible if we were cooking food to placate every palate rather than to inspire.
Smoked pork shoulder
Your style is bold, sexy and unapologetic. Do you have any advice for those lacking confidence in this dog-eat-dog industry?
I would just tell them to stand tall and keep focused on their goals. And surround yourself with like-minded people who will support you and inspire you on your journey.
Enjoy Chef Angie Mar’s takeover at Buenos Aires Polo Club from 10–11 December 2019. Dinner is priced at $888 per person. Minimum 4 guests. Call 2321 8681 or book online.
Buenos Aires Polo Club, 7/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central
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