Commander’s Palace’s new Executive Chef
Café Adelaide’s Chef
New Café Adelaide Executive Chef Megan “Meg” Bickford called the Commander’s Palace kitchen her culinary home. After she graduated from the John Folse Culinary School, Commander’s Palace Chef Tory McPhail hired young Meg, hoping she had what it took to make it in his fast-paced and then almost all-male kitchen. Tory’s, and everyone’s, concerns were allayed as Meg quickly proved to be a budding talent and a force to be reckoned with in a small package.
“Meg really knows how to cook,” says Chef Tory. “I saw that from her at a very young age. She’s got fantastic DNA and a great spark. Her cooking style is thoughtful and not flashy, but the dishes she creates manage to blow away your expectations every time.”
Meg worked her way up the hot line and management positions before landing the honored gig as Commander’s Palace’s first-ever female sous chef only one year later.
“We all had our eye on that one from the get-go,” shares Commander’s Palace’s Co-Proprietor Ti Adelaide Martin. “She had that sparkle – that love of food and people. And a ‘don’t even think about telling me I can’t do it’ aura about her. ”
Meg can’t wait to be chef of her own kitchen, though she admits it’s going to be a challenge. She’s leaving the team she’s grown with and grown to love. She credits Chef Tory, the Brennan ladies (Ti, Lally, Dottie and Ella Brennan) and especially Sous Chef Chris Barbato, whom Meg calls her mentor.
“He took me under his wing from day one and taught me how to do everything, from how to make bread to how to hurry up,” Meg says with a laugh. “He’s a counselor and a friend.”
Meg will be the first ever female executive chef for the Commander’s Family of Restaurants. “Ms. Ella Brennan (the family matriarch) told me not to let that by my story. I may be the first female to earn that role but I didn't earn it because I’m female,” say says.
“Meg has been a superstar from early on. Nothing gives us greater pleasure than to be the first to say, ‘Chef Meg.’ We don’t take the word ‘chef’ lightly,” effuses Commander's Palace Co-Proprietor Lally Brennan.
Chef Meg has always had a soft spot for Café Adelaide. When resigning Chef Carl Schaubhut took medical leave in 2014, Meg stepped in to run the place for a few months. The result was a lasting bond between the two chefs and an inside glimpse for Meg of how the Commander’s Palace sister restaurant conducted its daily operations.
Putting her own take on Café Adelaide’s signature playful, modern Creole is a challenge Meg is primed for. “I can’t wait to use everything that has already influenced me and my know-how to work as the leader of my own kitchen. I grew up surrounded by great cooks in my family in Louisiana and in the Commander's kitchen,” says Meg. “I want Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar to be a part of the fabric of New Orleans. I want it to be one of the top places you think of with great joie de vivre and food that makes you step back and pay attention. But always in an irreverent, playful way.”