Angie Mar’s restaurant, the Beatrice Inn, is, in a word, extravagant. So perhaps it is no surprise that she leads a similarly extravagant life. “My mother,” the chef and restaurateur explains, “says that I am now still the exact same person as I was when I was 5 years old — ‘You just want to wear heels and eat beef.’” It’s been a celebratory and hectic few days for Mar, who this week flew to Florida to cook at an event, flew back to New York to cook at another while running her restaurant, and also released her first cookbook, Butcher + Beast, which she celebrated with a Champagne and prime rib party at her restaurant, plus four Peking ducks during a family feast at the Peking Duck House. Read all about it in this week’s Grub Street Diet.
Thursday, October 3
I have never been big on breakfast unless it’s a lazy Sunday, so on my way to an NPR interview, I had a coffee from the bodega in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side — always just milk. Everyone always assumes I need fancy coffee, but it’s actually quite the opposite. I’ve never met a bodega coffee and a super-slim cigarette that I didn’t adore in the morning. In fact, I call it the breakfast of champions.
It was my release party for my first book. I spent the majority of the day doing press and getting ready for the soiree at night. On my way back uptown around 1 p.m., for my last fitting for the party, at Oscar de la Renta, I stopped into the Beatrice to check on the progress for the evening’s festivities (and, to my stylist’s dismay, grabbed a slice at Village Pizza before hopping in the car to meet her). While there, we nibbled on a bit of fruit with creamy ricotta and honey. I love fresh red cherries when they are quite cold, and even though they are out of season, I know a guy who gets them for me from Chile, so I always have them in my refrigerator at home and at the restaurant, even when there is a foot of snow on the ground.
At 7 p.m., I arrived at the Bea for our soiree. It was a fantastic affair, with towers of fried chicken, a carving station of dry-aged prime rib, whole tomahawk bones that were roasted and slathered with peony-and-scallop butter (a new creation of mine and my current obsession on our menu), our dry-aged burgers and osetra caviar and French fries. We of course had smoked Manhattans, and Champagne filled the room, with people drinking from splits through straws and the sommeliers pouring glasses out of magnums. It was a beautiful blur of a night, and my favorite part was watching my guests scoop obscene amounts of caviar onto their French fries and gnaw on rib bones, butter dripping down their arms onto their tuxedos. I always adore a bit of debauchery with my parties. Everyone’s inhibitions go out the window and that is when the real fun begins.
Friday, October 4
It was 12:30 a.m. and our soiree was still going. I snuck out the back door with my two brothers and went to Blue Ribbon Sushi, which is one of my favorite places to go late night. We ordered an obscene amount of sushi: unagi, giant clam, a tasting of three different kinds of uni, snapper, and the like. My favorite last bite there is always the spicy crab and shiso hand roll. It’s transportive, and I always need to eat it in silence to truly enjoy. We stayed for a few hours, as the three of us love slow dinners and family time. It was the first time since they landed in New York that we had a minute alone, and it was the perfect meal to reflect on the day’s festivities.
5:40 a.m. and I was at the airport on my way to Florida to cook for 600 people. Given that sleep was not in the cards, I grabbed a coffee and water and continued working on the flight.
At 11 a.m. I went into a tasting with my team, who had been in Florida prepping for the past few days. Double checking the shallot demi-glace and tasting our Pinot Meunier–aged Wagyu Chateaubriand that we had sent south for the event. We release a new dry-aging technique every autumn, and for this one I get Pinot Meunier vine clippings from France and cold smoke the meat, then bury it in thyme, leaving it to age. This particular set spent the past month aging in our fridges and I am always so elated to share it with others.
By 4 p.m., I was onstage running through rehearsal and sound check with the adorable Ray Isle, working out the kinks in our speech in a nearly empty room. I was famished at this point, and the hotel brought me a pasta salad, as it’s the first thing I’ve eaten since last night, and have yet to sleep more than two hours since Wednesday.
After rehearsal, I went back to my room and got ready for the dinner. One last check-in with my kitchen team, and then I was off to get mic’d and give an introduction speech. On the menu this night were all new dishes from our autumn menu at the Beatrice: hearts of romaine with a smoked green goddess dressing and candied pecans; Pinot Meunier–aged Chateaubriand, with shallot demi-glace and tarragon, that’s so dark and sticky with collagen it makes me happy just to think about it; a pommes anna à la Beatrice, with a golden crust and a beautiful dollop of Gorgonzola dolce and crème fraîche laced with smoked honey and garlicky chives. And for dessert, a bitter-chocolate–and–cognac mousse with whipped mascarpone. I am never one for very sweet sweets, and love a bit of savory in all my food.
Saturday, October 5
3:30 a.m. and my team and I were out the door of our hotel, headed to the airport. We had a food festival at Bryant Park, and I had to be onstage at 4 p.m. for a cooking demo. We also had a restaurant to run — it was Saturday motherfucking night in New York City. We checked in and I decided that bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches were the best move, so I left in search of the nearest fast-food stand. I returned triumphant, with coffees, waters, and sandwiches covered in highly processed, melting, fake yellow, American cheese.
8:45 a.m. and I was at my front door, locked out of my apartment. I took a car to the Beatrice where I was sure I had a spare key. I used the time to check in with my daytime crew, try the morning’s batch of pâté campagne, and write the menu for the evening’s service … and of course, more bodega coffee and a super-slim cigarette: breakfast of champions.
I finally got my keys, and went to Bryant Park. I stood in the back of our tent in the mud and waited for one of my cooks to fry off an order of chicken liver and gizzards for me. I didn’t need to quality control it — I was in dire need of protein, and wanted the iron injection because I had an 18-hour day ahead of me. Now that I think of it, perhaps that is the breakfast of champions: liver and gizzards.
I walked into the Beatrice at 6 p.m. Joe, my general manager, walked in shortly after me, and he looked as tired as I felt. He’d been up since 5 a.m. managing the event and was back in the office to catch up on email. We went downstairs, and hid in the corner of the prep kitchen, stood over a garbage can, and ate a 60-day dry-aged côte de boeuf with leftover rice from family meal and a bit of dijon. We ate with our hands, like savages, passing the rib bone back and forth, silently. We knew that this was the meal that we both needed to get through the next eight hours of work.
Full of dry-aged energy, we rolled up our sleeves and got busy for the night.
Sunday, October 6
Around 2 a.m., we finished cleaning up the kitchen and putting our mise en place away. We grabbed our nighttime family meal: a mountain of venison tamales, and smoked wild boar flautas, and (my favorite) duck mole and headed to the Safari Room to share a meal together as we always do at the end of the night. My sous chefs are hosting a Day of the Dead dinner on the 31st of the month, and my team is recipe testing. I always say that when I die, it will be surrounded by dead animals and Mexican food, so for me, this event is everything that my last-supper dreams are made of.
The next morning, I was up early, around 8:30 a.m., walking to my bodega for the morning coffee and super-slim cigarette routine. I stopped afterwards at the Doughnut Pub for a maple bar and a coffee because I was in dire need of a bit of sugar.
I was off to Bryant Park for day two of the New York Times event and I, of course, decided to indulge in another round of liver and gizzards. Then, I was finally ready to head home and get some rest, but first, a Sunday supper with my family at Peking Duck House. It’s one of my favorite places. I’m Chinese; that’s my comfort food.
There were 16 of us, gathered at the Mott Street restaurant for a proper Sunday Supper. We ordered like only the Mar, Luke, and Chow family can: five courses, multiple dishes, and an obscene amount of excess. There were cold duck feet and chilled jellyfish to start, and all kinds of dumplings. I ordered four Peking ducks as a midcourse and my brothers were concerned that it might not be enough. We paired it with magnums of Dom Pérignon, and of course there was mezcal on the table with Tsingtao in buckets on the side.
The fish and meat courses were next: There were lobsters and fried whole founder. We got a rack of lamb and beef shank, lo mein, and salt-and-pepper prawns. Curiously, the vegetables that I ordered remain untouched, but I suppose I was just being polite to order them, and my family decided to be professionals, and that they would take up unnecessary real estate that could otherwise be occupied by meat. We had a long leisurely dinner, and there was plenty of passing bones, and fighting over the fish cheeks and the last of the chilled duck’s feet.
Monday, October 7
Finally got eight hours of sleep and felt slightly refreshed. I had a full docket and was back on the coffee and super-slim diet. I decided to double up since I had back-to-back meetings. I stopped into Aux Merveilleux de Fred for a pain au chocolat with my second coffee of the day on my way to my meeting.
I wrapped at the office and in the kitchen at 7 p.m., I needed to head to Jen Pelka’s the Riddler to drop off a bottle of whisky and wish her well on her opening. Normally, I would bring her a magnum of Champagne, but I thought it best that I not, as she was opening a Champagne bar, and honestly, who wants to try to upstage that with a gift? After going through my own opening, all I actually wanted was a good whisky, neat, so thought it best to spread the love.
I am by nature very quiet most of the time, and decided that a bit of alone time was in dire need. When I require inspiration, when I require solace, when I need to recharge, when I need to be with my own thoughts, when I am happy, when I am sad, when I need to reflect, there has only ever been one place in New York to do that: Sushi Seki. I walked up to 23rd Street, grabbed a seat at the sushi counter, and handed my friend a steak. I have been coming here for years, and this is a ritual we have: I bring them beef, they bring me uni. Because we both know that it’s never good manners to show up to another person’s home or restaurant empty-handed. Ken-San is the man who cuts my fish, who keeps me sane, and who green-lit me so the Japanese fish purveyors would finally sell to me. I have never looked at a menu there, and I never want to. I have never dined with anyone else there, and honestly, I want to keep it that way. I will not share Sushi Seki.
My time with Ken-San is something very special to me. We very rarely speak, only at the beginning and at the end of my meal, and the words spoken in between consist mainly of what he is feeding me, and me saying thank you, and how good the last bite was. I feel that we have an understanding. When I sit at his counter, I tune out the rest of the world, and I can focus on each exquisite bite. The varying textures and temperatures, the progression and the seduction of the meal, the ebb and flow of one perfect bite to another and the crescendo of a perfect pairing. There was shima-aji, and salmon with bruléed tomato. Fried octopus and kanpachi. My favorite bites were the tuna with a silken tofu sauce and chili oil, and baby shrimp that needed nothing but to be tempered and enjoyed.