L'Officiel Hommes USA
BEAUTY AND THE BEA
Angie Mar, the Oscar De La Renta wearing star chef, cook book author and owner of New York’s iconic Beatrice Inn creates meaty dishes inspired by Dior and Mcqueen. Vegans need not apply.
With the smell of braised oxtail in the air and the sound of clanking pots and pans preparing for dinner service, star chef Angie Mar sits in a leather banquette clutching a stack of papers close to her chest. “I never show these word webs to anyone,” she claims. “I’ve always done them and kept them a secret. When I tell people in food about them, they’re like: ‘You’re fucking nuts.’”
She flips the sheets of paper over and an explosion of word association is revealed on the recycled menus, linked together first in pencil and then in marker. “This is how I build my dishes,” she explains, tracing the lines with her finger, attempting to follow her own stream of consciousness from weeks or months earlier.
“I watched the Mcqueen documentary and then chose to look at some of the newer collections, and there’s the one where it’s all deconstructed corseted gowns with floral appliques, and the models are greasy. Their hair is slicked to their head. They’re all weighted down by combat boots. So, this dish really came out of that collection. Leather, bones, it’s raw, it’s ugly, but it’s still regal and elegant. There are flowers, so out of flowers I got Elderflowers, and all of these other flowers, but Elderflower jumped out at me. There’s forbidden fruit. There’s something that’s naughty about the whole thing. I narrowed down from forbidden fruit, and landed on apple. I think of lace. I think of deconstruction. When I think of ugly beauty, I go to whole animals, which I then landed on a squab. Then, I go back and circle everything with red, so this ended up being a dish where, when I was done with it, it was a whole squab, head and feet on, with roasted apples and an Elderflower garnish, and when it came out, it was under this 18th-century cut crystal cloche that was filled with smoke.”
“I have these for every single dish for the menu, dating back like, three and a half years,” she adds. They lead to other sublimely original creations like Muscadet vine-smoke rabbit with chestnut stuffing, prunes, and brandy inspired by a Jean-baptiste Oudry painting and the “Scallops Alexandra” with caviar derived from Maria Grazia Chiuri’s all-black fall/winter 2019 couture collection for Christian Dior.
It’s this sort of unapologetic creativity that is required of someone like Mar, who, at just 37-yearsold, acquired iconic downtown Manhattan boîte, The Beatrice Inn, with the goal of bringing proper cuisine back to its hallowed halls. Since opening in the early 1920s as a back alley speakeasy, it’s played host to the likes of Zelda & F. Scott Fitzgerald, but more recently to social fixtures like Kirsten
Dunst, Lindsay Lohan, and Mary-kate and Ashley Olsen as Paul Sevigny’s rowdy, decadent nightlife venture in the early 2000s. These days, the crowd on an average night includes a slew of recognizable faces (Samuel L. Jackson is a mainstay) nestled among neighborhood locals who crave the off-menu fried chicken, served only at the bar to regulars in-the-know.
It wasn’t until 2013, when owner Graydon Carter, the former Editor in Chief of Vanity Fair, tapped Mar to become the eatery’s head chef that the wheels were set in motion on a path toward making The Beatrice Inn her own. “I bought The Bea from Graydon on April 8th, 2016, and that’s when the change really clicked.” Mar says. “I wanted to make sure this restaurant leaves its mark, not just on the culinary industry, but on New York, because this restaurant has been around since the 1920s, and it’s always been the Beatrice Inn, right? For me, it was this huge responsibility of ushering in the next chapter, and I feel like I’m the custodian of this great New York establishment.”
Now, after three years spent as a steward of this vaunted local watering hole with her co-owner and cousin Melissa Merrill, she’s opening her playbook with Butcher + Beast, published by Clarkson Potter.
Six years in the making, the tome is equal parts cookbook and personal essays, interspersed with portraits of Mar styled to the nines in confections by the likes of Oscar de la Renta sitting atop the bar alongside a hulking venison, waiting to be butchered. The recipes inside begin with the basics though, including exactly how to recreate the famed Beatrice burger, and a lengthy homage to the seemingly endless varietals of butter. Altogether, it’s clear that the vegans and vegetarians of the world need not pay a visit to the Beatrice Inn – and Mar couldn’t care less.
“For me, this restaurant is not for everybody and I don’t want it to be for everybody,” Mar tells us. “I don’t think that we can, or we should, make ourselves into something that we aren’t because it’ll make someone happy. I cook for me.”