Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Get to Know: Chef Shane

You may not know his name yet, but you will soon. Chef Shane McIntosh of Ocean Catering Company is the next big chef to watch in Atlanta (clearly, because I have the authority to say so). 

In all seriousness, please do yourself a favor and get to know Chef Shane. He’s a very talented chef who can make your favorite comfort foods look like something out of a three-Michelin star restaurant (hello, foie gras beef sliders, mac-and-cheese tarts, and crème brulee pots, anyone? Yes, please!). He’s also got a little spunk and a great outlook on life (no angry chef here), which makes him a pleasure to work with. 

P.S.: That mac & cheese you’re now craving? Chef Shane’s recipe is at the bottom of this post! 

Belly of the Feast: Tell us more about Ocean Catering Company: What makes it stand out from the crowd?
Shane McIntosh: I started Ocean Catering Company over 10 years ago because I thought I could do a better job than what I saw out there. I love the party atmosphere when everything is rocking. I love to see the smiles on brides and grooms when they are taking mental pictures at their reception. I love to see the happiness on a client’s face in the middle of their Christmas party. That constant urge to make someone’s special event actually special is what keeps me happily in this business. As a chef, I believe in full-flavored food that is both comfortable and unique. I also believe in service. When you hire OCC, we do everything we can to go beyond any expectations of the usual catering company and make your event memorable. 

BOF: How did you decide to get into the catering business?
SM: I have spent years in fine dining restaurants, and I wanted to get out of the restaurant lifestyle. It’s brutal working late hours every day, every weekend, and most holidays. Once I started to break out on my own, it was catering that I heard calling. I just love the party!

BOF: Why did you first decide to become a chef?
SM: I don’t believe I ever really made the decision to become a chef — I just realized one day that I was. I started working in a kitchen when I was 14 years old; when I was young, it wasn’t really work. I showed up to the hip places where all my friends were working, made great food, and got a check. I was in love with food and cooking and had a natural ability to multi-task on a hot line in a kitchen, so I always advanced quickly.

Then, Karen Blockman Carrier took me under her wing. The great restaurateur and chef in Memphis took the time to slow me down and teach me about style, definition, flavors, and dimensions of food. She showed me the artist’s approach to food and cooking and it changed my life forever. I guess that would be the time I made the crossover from cook to chef, circa 1994.

BOF: Even though creating delicious dishes is your job, do you still cook for your friends and family after work?
SM: Oh, yeah! I cook dinner 3-4 times a week. I have 3 kids who really have no idea how many great foods they are eating. And trust me, they are my harshest critics. I love cooking. It is therapy for me — very relaxing. My biggest problem is that I have a very hard time cooking for small groups of people, and I am completely used to having a team of utility guys and dishwashers coming behind me. My oldest always complains that I use too many pots and pans when I cook and leave a huge mess (I subscribe to a simple rule: I cook, you clean). No matter how hard I try, I always cook for 10-20 people. We’re always looking for dinner guests to help clear the table.

BOF: Personally, I think the bigger the mess, the better the chef. But what about an easy dish that is a favorite of yours? Something simple, that doesn’t take a lot of time or effort (or pots and pans)?
SM: Mac & Cheese. This is a simple dish that too many people over-complicate. Here’s what you need: 
-Dried elbow macaroni
-Shredded cheddar
-Heavy crème
-Garlic granules
-Salt and pepper 

Here’s what you do:
-Boil the pasta until done. Drain but do not rise with water. Leave noodles hot.
-In a small saucepan, bring heavy crème to a boil. Turn off the heat and add salt, pepper, garlic, and shredded cheese. Stir with a good spoon until mixture is smooth.
-In a large mixing bowl, pour crème/cheese mix over pasta and then throw in a small handful of shredded cheese. Mix well
-Scrape mixture into serving dish, top with more shredded cheese and serve. 

Easy! We get rave reviews on our mac & cheese and no one ever believes it’s just mac, crème, and cheese!

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