Special | Inspiring Women - Angie Mar, Owner & Head Chef: The Beatrice Inn

Angie Mar talks about her late start in the world of culinary arts, the work that went into becoming one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2017, and how the food of her childhood and time spent in the corporate world influence her work as owner and executive chef at The Beatrice Inn.

[Editor’s Note: The following post is part of American Masters’ #InspiringWomanPBS campaign, which highlights the powerful, creative, and innovative women in our lives. Visit the Inspiring Woman page to join the campaign and submit the story of a woman who inspires you.]


The Inspiring Woman web series is a production of the Interactive Engagement Group. Daniel Greenberg is executive producer. Kait Hoehne is supervising producer. Gerry Johnson and Joe Skinner are producers. Michael Kantor is American Masters series executive producer. Junko Tsunashima is American Masters series supervising producer. Inspiring Woman is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Transcript Print

I didn't start cooking until very late in life and it's interesting because I think there are so many chefs that, you know, they come out of the womb and they just have a whisk in their hand. I was not one of those. I'm Angie Mar and I'm the executive chef and owner of The Beatrice Inn in New York City. I had a corporate career before this and at the end of the day though, I just I didn't feel fulfilled. I left my job. I traveled, and when I was in Sevilla it dawned on me that I should be cooking. It was at this restaurant - and I think it was the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Sevilla at the time - I was eating this Iberian pork shoulder and it was, you know, medium-rare and just beautiful and seared and I remember biting into it and thinking, 'why am I not cooking?' Like, 'I should really be cooking.' You know, I'm really fortunate to have a family that's incredibly supportive. I think when I told them that I wanted to cook it was very much, 'Are you crazy?' Like, 'You're going to be slaving over a stove for like 14, 15 hours a day.' But the fact that I'm so passionate about it, you know, it's what I truly wanted to do. They've been amazing. I was working at Reynard in Brooklyn. They've got a whole animal butchering program there, and so I started cutting meat with the butchers there because I wanted to learn how to better cook different cuts of beef or pork or you know what have you. I found that you know butchering kind of became my Zen place.

Cooking at Reynard and cooking over a wood-fire grill and working with produce that I had never worked with or seen or heard of before - it was great. And then going to work for a for April Bloomfield taught me a dedication to perfection that I I didn't really know existed before, and it taught me how to run a restaurant. I'm tremendously concentrated on making The Beatrice Inn, you know, a New York standard. It's a restaurant that's been here since the 1920s and has always been a place for, you know, these New York luminaries to come. It's had such a fascinating history. It's really exciting and, you know, humbling that I get to be part of its next chapter. For me, I wouldn't have done anything different, because all of that time that I spent in the business world has really helped me with this, because at the end of the day, yes, you know, do I cook? Do I create? Yes. But it's a business. So much of the menu is really based on what we ate growing up as children, so to be able to take my interpretation of that and give it to everybody else, you know, to experience, it's kind of an honor. My Aunt was Ruby Chow, and she was a very famous restauranteur in Seattle. My dad is one of ten children. Their parents died when they were very young and Ruby was one of the oldest. She kept the family together. She worked tirelessly to just put them through school. They worked really hard, but they also wanted us to understand why they worked so hard. When we reopened the restaurant in September I hoped that it would be received well but everything that's happened - you know the two stars in The Times, and Food & Wine's Best New Chef - it's mind blowing and such an honor. You look at my food when I started here and you look at my food now; it has completely evolved, you know. It's still the same idea - it's like meat, fruit and herbs, and playing with ideas of masculinity and femininity but I think my palate has evolved and my style has evolved and you know I've evolved as a cook. I think that the food that we're cooking right now is some of the best food I've cooked in my career. That's what's really exciting to me, is to be here cooking and in the trenches with these amazing amazingly talented cooks. And seeing how excited they are that all the hard work that they've put in over the past year has just really paid off.

You want to inspire people to work harder for you. I especially find that in the restaurant industry, and especially New York, it's very transient. People come and they put in their year, and they move on. I think it's such a testament to the culture that we're really trying to build here that people have been with us for three years and for longer. It's exciting. I don't want to train line cooks. I want to grow chefs. And I think that is something really amazing to aspire to, because that's your legacy. I want to be able to look at my guys who were here with me from the beginning, and I want them to be better than me.