Angie Mar, chef and owner of New York City's West Village restaurant the Beatrice Inn, wants to change the dialogue surrounding women in the kitchen. Mar, who has mastered the art of whole-animal butchery and runs a restaurant revolving around meat, is bone-tired of addressing her feelings about being a female in the culinary world.
"Especially with the field that I am in," she says, "you know, running a chophouse. We have to stop talking about gender and start talking about talent. I've earned my seat at the table, not because I am a woman, but based on the merits of the food that I cook. We have to move forward."
Mar will jump-start her experience at the 17th-annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival with a panel of three female chefs, including Compère Lapin's Nina Compton and Girl & the Goat's Stephanie Izard, who will each discuss her success in the restaurant industry's notoriously rough and historically male-dominated atmosphere. Moderated by American Way editor in chief Bill Kearney, the conversation will explore what it means to be a woman in hospitality.
"It's really a matter of gender equality," Mar says. "We have to start focusing on that. Women make up some 20 percent; we have to look at the other 80 percent and see what's going wrong. Changes in leadership and mentorship will help culminate the next generation of industry leaders."
A native of Seattle, Mar was born into culinary royalty. Her aunt, Ruby Chow, was a well-known chef and restaurateur who pioneered Chinese cuisine in Seattle in the late 1940s. On a trip to Paris as a young girl, Mar remembers the moment her perception of food was revolutionized.
"I ate a plate of kidneys," she says. "Being 7 years old, it was interesting. I had never experienced a food quite like that before. To have that revelation as a child and realize food is special, it's something that sticks with you."
Today, with more than a decade of work under her belt, the 35-year-old still defaults to kidneys as her comfort food of choice. "I crave it," she says. "Even in my 30s, that's what I go back to. It describes my childhood."
Through her years of cooking, Mar has earned a significant amount of recognition. She won Season 2 of Food Network's Chopped Grill Masters, hosted two dinners at the James Beard House, and bought and reopened the Beatrice Inn, where she had previously worked as head chef three years earlier. Most recently, she was the only New York chef selected for Food & Wine's 2017 "Best New Chefs."
At her restaurant, Mar is hailed for her skill and technique in animal butchery, dry-aging, and cooking over an open fire. Since reopening the Beatrice in September 2016, she has transformed it into one of the most coveted reservations in New York. It's known for a meat-forward menu and notable presentations, from a 45-day dry-aged burger to duck flambé. In an October 2016 review, New York Times food critic Pete Wells described the restaurant as "a place to go when you want to celebrate your life as an animal."
At this year's SOBEWFF, Mar will participate in two meaty events: Burger Bash Friday, February 23, and Beachside BBQ Sunday, February 25. Though she declines to divulge details about the dish she'll create for Friday's competition, she says it will be "different." In 2016, she competed with a classic beef burger.
"Burger Bash is one of my favorite events of the festival," she says. "This year, nevertheless, it will definitely be interesting. My burger will be very 'New York.'"
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Heineken Light Burger Bash, presented by Schweid & Sons, hosted by Guy Fieri
7:30 to 10:20 p.m. Friday, February 23, at North Venue, beachside at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets are sold out.
Beachside BBQ, hosted by Michael Symon
6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, February 25, at North Venue, beachside at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $150 to $200 via sobewff.org/bbq.