Chef’s Special: Chef Jeffrey T. Edwards
Chef Jeffrey T. Edwards
Mackie’s Bar and Grill
907 King Street
Old Town Alexandria
When did you first become interested in cooking and why did you decide to pursue a culinary career?
I have always loved eating and trying new foods and different cuisines. Growing up, my parents generally took the family out to eat at least once a week to the better establishments in town, as well as on vacations. By nature being curious and analytical, I wanted to explore the “who, what and why” of the dishes that were served to us. This led me to want to emulate these dishes at home, as well as pursue other dishes so I became a voracious reader of cook books. I was fortunate that my parents and maternal grandmother were supportive and encouraged me to “experiment” on the family. I started by baking cookies, cakes and pies, then candies. Then I moved on to cooking meats and vegetables etc. I decided that I wanted to become a chef around the age of 15 so I enrolled in a local vocational technical high school in addition to my regular studies. This is when I found out about The Culinary Institute of America. That is when I decided upon the path I wanted to pursue and immersed myself in all things food related.
Who have been the biggest inspirations during your career?
Ron Greenberg, Dennis Gomes, and Linda Jesperson. The three instructors at Warren Tech Vocational High School and directors of the restaurant arts program. They all deeply loved the hospitality industry and instilled in all their students the same passion they possessed. One must also remember at the time in America when I was attending the school, the hospitality industry was looked down upon. There were no celebrity chefs. I also owe a debt to the many chefs, cooks, owners, maitre d’s, waiters, bartenders and managers over the years who shared their knowledge.
What dish on your menu are you most curious to see how it is received by your clients?
Keeping in mind that we have only been open several weeks, most items are well received by our guests. I have many things that I want to try and will rely on the feedback both positive and negative in this regard. I believe you will always miss the ball you don’t swing at.
What do you do to insure the quality of the food going out to customers?
First of all, a clean organized kitchen is paramount. Proper storage and rotation also play a key role. We only buy top quality products from top purveyors and inspect everything that comes in the back door until it goes out the door to the guest. I am constantly inspecting and tweaking until it meets our goal of serving fresh, local, innovatively prepared food.
If any chef in the world could prepare you a meal, who would it, be?
Any 80 year old grandmother who has lots of siblings and grandchildren. There are a multitude of chefs that I would love to “cook a meal with” over a bottle of good red wine or three!!
What is your guilty food pleasure?
I do not feel any food or spirit in moderation is bad nor should one feel guilty about enjoying them. That being said, in no particular order are the things I love to indulge in: triple cream ice cream and butter, pizza, schnitzels, crispy duck or goose (particularly confits, foie gras), potatoes, any kind of crispy salty pork product, ten year and older French, Italian, and Spanish red wines, Armagnac, as well as any good aged whiskey neat no water or ice.
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