Originally published July 28, 2016
All photos by Jeff Martin
Marjorie Meek-Bradley is one of the nicest chefs I’ve ever met. And she has absolutely no reason to be nice to me. Here I am combing through the Top Chef‘s fridge, examining her bar, asking questions about her Grandmothers 50+ year old iron skillet, and she doesn’t bat an eye. Going through a chefs fridge can be an unnerving experience. Nobody wants a stranger in their house, going through their personal things and then following up with questions about what they find. It’s deeply weird, which is also why it’s endlessly fascinating. When someone is as good at something as Chef Meek-Bradley is, we want to get close to them. We want to know their secrets. And a fridge is filled with secrets. Kind of.
On the bright (and as it goes without saying, horrifically hot) morning we meet up, Marjorie is doing some planning for her upcoming restaurant, Smoked & Stacked, a fast casual concept she’s premiering at Mess Hall’s New Kitchen’s On the Block this weekend. As I started to go through her kitchen (which is lovely and bright) it’s clear that this is one of the most organized setups I’ve ever seen. Everything is so pristine it’s almost starting to make me feel bad about my own fridge at home.
“On Monday and Tuesday, my fridge is usually very full,” says Marjorie. “But by Sunday, it’s nothing but condiments and take-out.”
What immediately strikes me about her fridge is how healthy it is. Most chefs rarely cook at home since they’re so busy doing it at their restaurants, but Marjorie’s fridge is full of pre-portioned meals (this week it’s rice, ground turkey, and kale), fruits, veggies, sparkling water and (of course) coconut water. She explains that she usually batches a bunch of lunches on her day off and tries to cook a healthy breakfast every morning.
We also spied some drinkable yogurt (“I lived in Sweden for a year and became obsessed with drinkable yogurt,”), a little cold brew, a big bottle of Lagunitas, and a whole lot of Gordy’s pickles.
“I was just at the Gordy’s factory, talking with them about Smoked & Stacked,” explains Marjorie. “But I always have their pickled okra on hand.” She laughs, explaining that at one point she had eight bottles of pickles in her fridge, because there was a buy one get one sale.
We also spy some coconut vinegar, which Marjorie started buying to use in marinades due to a friends particular diet, and some moonshine. Two types actually. One of those fake moonshine jars you can get at any old liquor store, and the real deal variety sans label. “It was a gift!” says Marjorie. “I have a friend who swears by it.”
While Marjorie admits some of the things in her fridge are simply random items she’s received in gift bags, she explains that she always has cold brew, a bubbly wine, and a pink wine around the house. She also always has all the ingredients needed to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
“My first memories in the kitchen are making cookies and brownies with my mom and sister,” she says. I can’t imagine better household staples.
Moving on the freezer, we discover Marjorie’s secret trove of junk food. There are frozen pizzas, snickers bars, and some packs of frozen fruit, for when she feels like making smoothies, or more often than not, sangria.
“Sometimes you come home drunk and just want a frozen pizza,” she says.
Speaking of booze, we make our way over to her bar, where we discover a bunch of tequila. Marjorie explains while she’s not a huge tequila fan, she does love margaritas. When it comes to booze, she’s a Ketel One fan, but also keeps campari on hand for spritzers and boulevardiers.
I walk away from Marjorie’s kitchen (after checking out the rooftop pool which is just as fantastic as you can imagine) hungry. Smoked & Stacked can’t come soon enough.