Culinary Q&A – Chef Greg Marks
Culinary Q&A with Chef Greg Marks, Chef
Butcher & Bee Charleston, SC
Butcher & Bee, oh how I love thee! Cheri and I were introduced to Butcher & Bee by some of our Charleston friends on a recent trip and I cannot stop thinking about what we had that day I fell in love – kale salad with peanuts, soy and benne, curried green beans with boiled peanuts and cilantro and a grilled cheese with broccoli and caramelized onions. I am already planning on a return trip to see what pops up on the always interesting and yummy chalkboard menu… can’t wait!
Using time-honored preparation techniques to produce an ever-changing menu that is both adventurous and familiar, Butcher & Bee was opened by proprietor Michael Shemtov and executive chef Stuart Tracy in October 2011. The restaurant sources the finest local ingredients the region has to offer and is committed to partnering with purveyors with integrity. Mostly open for lunch, late night and Sunday brunch, Butcher & Bee has received well-deserved national attention from publications such as the New York Times, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, GQ, and Conde Nast Traveler.
In addition, the restaurant regularly hosts special dinners that offer talented chefs, including members of its own kitchen staff, a chance to show off their skills and that allow guests the opportunity to enjoy intimate dinners reminiscent of a night at the home of close friends.
Butcher & Bee chef Greg Marks got his start in a professional kitchen fresh off the heels of his 18th birthday. Although he had no experience at the time, he was able to secure a job at a creole restaurant in Madison through a friend in the kitchen, and that opportunity has fostered a career that Marks continues to thrive in and find excitement in to the present day.
According to Marks, cooking allows him to see further than the project at hand, and it represents a process that he enjoys from start to finish. From prep to production to clean up, Marks takes great pride and pleasure in every detail of his job. The rewards are real to him, and at the end of the day, once everyone has been fed and is happy, he’s back to work to prepare for the next day. Marks truly loses himself in the process, in the best way possible.
In addition to creole and Cajun cuisine, Marks has long been intrigued by the food traditions of the South. He realized a few years into his career that the best way to learn about this cuisine was to immerse himself in it, and set about making this possible.
One trip to Charleston confirmed his inclination and in 2008, he moved to the Holy City to work at SNOB under the tutelage of Frank Lee and Russell Moore. During his five year tenure at SNOB, Marks was exposed to fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients regularly, and this approach to food informs his very backbone as a cook.
As Sous Chef at Butcher & Bee, Marks has applied the knowledge, organization, and attention to detail he’s developed over the years to explore new cuisines and techniques. In particular, owner Michael Shemtov’s Israeli background has piqued Marks’ interest in interpreting Charleston’s bountiful local produce vis a vis a Middle-Eastern lens, and the ever-changing menu at the restaurant challenges and inspires him.
First food memory:
My mom spending all day canning vegetables from her garden
Five ingredients always in your pantry:
olive oil, rice, beans, peanuts, Chinese oiled chili
Five ingredients always in your fridge:
hot sauce, PBR, vegetables from the Ambrose Farm CSA, American cheese, Duke’s
What are some of your go-to items you like to serve at a cocktail party?
Cheese, tacos, ceviche, and something grilled so I can cook with one hand, drink a beer with the other, and still socialize with my guests.
What would you want for your last meal?
Dream guest list of three people for a dinner party and why?
My family, because it’s so rare that I get to enjoy a meal with them. They’re in Wisconsin and I don’t get too many opportunities to visit them, or vice versa.
Career if you not a chef?
Do you have a favorite Southern dish that is always better “old school” rather than updated or “improved?”
Red Beans and Rice
Five Favorites –
Bourbon, neat. Or Gin and Tonic.
Whatever I’m reading at the time, but right now it’s Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Favorite Kitchen Gadget:
Favorite artist/musician to listen to in the kitchen:
I’m generally too preoccupied to put something on myself, but if I’m cooking at home and it’s up to me to select the music, KRS-One. At Butcher & Bee, our baker Joe comes in earlier than anyone else, so I’m usually listening to whatever he’s already playing.
Favorite culinary destination and why?
New Orleans. It’s got some of the best food in the country and it’s a fun town with its own distinct culture and traditions.
If you liked this post, read about:
Chef Michelle Weaver here
Chef Shawn Kelly here
Chef Chris Stewart here
Chef Marc Collins here
Chef Sarah O’Kelleyhere
Whitney Long is c0-founder of The Southern C and a Southern Living contributing editor. Through this series, she gets to meet some of the South’s finest and most creative chefs all while indulging without the calories.