NEW ORLEANS – Commander’s Palace, one of the most famous restaurants in the nation, has announced a new Executive Chef.
And she represents a break in the long tradition of male chefs in the Commander’s kitchen.
The announcement came like an earthquake in the culinary world, a crack in the crust of Commander’s famous bread pudding souffle.
Executive Chef Tory McPhail, who’s been at the helm for 18 years, is leaving for a new venture in– of all places– Bozeman, Montana– land of charred steaks and potato salad.
Montana tastebuds (and I say this as a former resident) can’t recognize much flavor beyond salt and pepper. Teriyaki sauce is about as exotic as it gets in Big Sky country. Which means, of course, that McPhail will be a rock star.
Meanwhile, Commander’s Sous Chef, Meg Bickford, becomes the first female Executive Chef in the restaurant’s 127-year history.
Bickford was the Executive Chef at Cafe Adelaide, a now-closed restaurant that was owned by the same branch of the Brennan family as is Commander’s.
“Meg has always been a spitfire in the kitchen, a ball of energy” say the restaurant’s co-proprietors, Ti Martin and Lally Brennan in a restaurant press release.
They describe Bickford as “small but mighty.. (with) the complete respect of our entire kitchen and restaurant.”
And yet, Martin and Brennan say Chef McPhail “will be dearly missed.”
McPhail has become an award-winning and popular chef at Commander’s, and he can rightfully join the ranks of two other former Commander’s chefs: Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse.
According to the press release, McPhail is “trading in his Commander’s toque to move closer to family out West… where he will be leading the culinary career development for a restaurant group there.”
McPhail is quoted in the press release saying that he will miss New Orleans and the Commander’s “family.” And he calls his time in the top spot at Commander’s his “greatest work.”
“It’s been,” says McPhail, “a helluva run!”
So what might the regulars at Commander’s see on the menu under “Chef Meg”?
Martin and Brennan say that “both Cajun and Creole influences run in her blood,” and that means some new dishes — with a dizzying list of ingredients.
“Miso & Sugarcane Shrimp Coated Redfish with spicy chilis, lemongrass, shaved mirliton, ripped mint, and lime” will be one of Chef Meg’s specialties.
Another is: “Dirty Duck Confit served with a sweet citrus and sour orange pepper jelly over Louisiana heirloom pumpkin au gratin, roasted apple salad, white bean crisp and dirty andouille duck jus.”
Shaved mirliton and pumpkin au gratin? Don’t worry, diners.
Martin and Brennan say Chef Meg has “a sparkle in her eye and magic in those hands.”
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Source: Thanks https://wgno.com/news/commanders-palace-breaks-tradition-with-a-new-head-chef-in-the-kitchen/