By: Chester Simpson
Magnolia’s on King
703 King Street
Old Town Alexandria
Born and raised in Annapolis MD, Chef Rowe started out working in his families restaurants and quickly decided to attend culinary school at Baltimore International College. After school he worked in a few small kitchens in Annapolis before heading to Florida to work for Wolfgang Puck at Grand Cafe and then later at Spago in Los Angeles. Rowe has opened numerous restaurants most recently Level Tapas Lounge in Annapolis and Sobe Restaurant and Lounge in Lanham, MD.
When did you become interested in cooking and what made you decide to pursue a culinary career?
I grew up in restaurants and spent a lot of time in the back with the kitchen staff, so it became my norm at an early age. Truthfully it’s the only job I can imagine doing for the rest of my life , I actually get to say that I go to work and do what I love everyday.
Who have been your biggest inspirations in the course of your career?
Marcus Samuelsson – his flavors are bold and inventive. He also exudes humility which is a trait I believe more Chefs need to embody. My close friend and mentor, Chef Sinclair Thorne, who taught me to believe in myself and to cook from my heart. He has always pushed me to be better and not let my passion die. Most importantly though are my Mom and Fiancé, who both support me every day and always push me to remember where I came from.
What dish on your menu are you most curious to see how it is received by your guests?
Definitely the bison meatloaf, there are a lot of flavors in there that don’t normally end up together like red wine, chipotle, thyme, sage, rosemary and cilantro.
What do you do to ensure that the quality of your food is of a high standard?
Beyond the obvious answer of sourcing the best local and sustainable ingredients I can find, every single dish is tasted and inspected before it leaves my kitchen. I actually built tasting spoons into my budget.
If any chef in the world could cook for you, who would you like that to be?
Daniel Boulud – his flavors inspired me as a young cook and I still look to his recipes today for inspiration. Daniel is a French chef and restauranteur with restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Palm Beach, Miami, Montreal, Toronto, London, Singapore, and Boston.
What is your guilty food pleasure>
Pizza! I eat pizza at least 4 days a week. I’m always looking for the best slice.
If you would like to see your favorite chef featured in this space, send contact information to Chester@ChesterSimpson.com.