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Now reading The Trip That Changed My Life: Angie Mar

The Trip That Changed My Life: Angie Mar

How a trip to Spain changed my culinary career.

Angie

Back in 1894, Tommy Dewar travelled around the globe to introduce the world to DEWAR’S, chronicling his trip along the way. To channel the brand’s history, we’re teaming up with DEWAR’S to bring you GREAT SCOTCH!, where Lucky Peachers Brette and Ryan travel around the country to gather recipes and recommendations from chefs and bartenders who are committed to their craft. Here, chef Angie Mar of Beatrice Inn in New York tells us about a trip she took that changed her approach to food and cooking.

Food is in my blood. My aunt was Ruby Chow, who pioneered Chinese cooking in Seattle. (Fun fact: Bruce Lee was her waiter and dishwasher.) But growing up, I never thought of going into the restaurant industry.

I was in the corporate world. I was so bored, really bored. I quit my job and decided to use my savings to travel to East Africa and Spain. I was traveling by myself and didn’t know what I was going to do. I was in Spain on a tapas crawl, eating the most amazing anchovies and olives and jamón ibérico, and I realized, I should be cooking. My family is in the restaurant industry, it’s what I grew up around and it’s what I love to do. So that was how things kicked off for me.

I moved back to New York and had no money, but I enrolled in culinary school and everything just fell into place. Back then, I wanted to do fine dining; I wanted to go work with Eric Ripert, or Daniel Boulud. That food is amazing; it’s beautiful and it’s perfect and it’s precious, and so well executed. But the more I ate at those restaurants, the more I realized that is just not who I am.

That was important for me to understand. I got a job working at Marlow & Sons and then working for April Bloomfield at the Spotted Pig. I learned that this type of food—primal, meaty, nostalgic—speaks to me more than something precious and perfect. Now, at the Beatrice Inn, if an animal can be served whole, we’re gonna serve it whole. That’s who I am as a person. Cooking is about growing and learning, and the more I grew and learned, I found that I wanted to cook this food of my childhood. Things like the milk-braised pork shoulder here are dishes that my dad would cook for me as a kid.

Even now with the Beatrice, we keep it in the family. My business partner is my cousin. My brothers do all of our menu design and web design. If you can’t keep it in the family, what’s the point?