Photo by Made by Meg
Meg Hall is the owner of Made by Meg Catering in Manhattan Beach. She is a Chef and a contestant on Food Networks new show Extreme Chef. Meg also founded Moveable Feast and she is the founder of Snooty Roots, a ChefPages TV Host, and a Gluten-free eater.
Chef Meg started her professional life as a Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney. After five years, Meg decided to pursue her passion for cooking.
She attended Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, CA at night and worked the stock markets during the day. Being a constant on the President’s Honor Roll throughout her training, she was honored to work in a Michelin Star kitchen in Los Angeles, Ortolan, with famed Chef & Owner, Christophe Eme. After an exhausting but highly rewarding journey, Meg started her catering business to a warm welcome from friends and former clients.
Food Mafia: How did you become a chef, I believe you started as a financial advisor?
Meg Hall: I wasn’t satisfied with my career as financial advisor, a lot of people out of college just fall in to it. Actually Martha Stewart, at 23, became a financial advisor. I hired a business coach because I knew that I was destined for more. Food and entertaining were two of the areas I was interested in so I jumped in to the most expensive and elaborate program I could find! Now, when I am in someone’s home they don’t expect me to have the background that I do. I have often been told that I used to have fun with other people’s money and gave up cute suits and BMW’s to become a chef.
FM:What is your take on the LA area food scene and how does it compare to other cities?
MH:Someone recently said that LA is not a World Class food scene which was very insulting. The Michelin guide finally came to the LA food scene a while back and threw out a couple of stars to some restaurants. Last year they came through and took LA off the map because there was the perspective that who sits in the restaurant is more important than what they cook in the restaurant. The LA food scene is a very close knit group. People in LA are very curious and always looking for the next best experience. LA in general and the Hollywood culture is always looking for something new and something more interesting. For example, the Slow Food movement is important in LA. LA tends to get a bad rap because cities like New York and New Orleans have a few incredible shining star restaurants and LA is a little different where there is more PR exposure around pushing restaurants in LA.
FM:Describe the concept of Moveable Feast and how you came up with the idea?
MH:Moveable Feast is inspired by an Ernest Hemingway quote and the idea that you can create an experience that you can take with you everywhere. It is a roving cocktail party and we offer experiences in different places with 6 dishes and 6 cocktails paired with a Mixologist. LA is a cocktail party town and it works very well as a fun and inspiring canvas for an event.
FM: Who are your favorite chefs and / or favorite restaurants in LA? Any specific dishes you order at those restaurants?
MH: I am very interested in big name chefs like Chef Ludo (Creator of Ludo Bites and named “Chef of the Future” by Time magazine in 2010). I am very fascinated with but haven’t had his cuisine but I have been trying desperately to get a reservation. David LeFevre, he was the Executive Chef at Water Grill when they earned a Michelin star, he recently started a restaurant in Manhattan Beach named M.B. Post. I am fascinated by the fact that he has taken a personal interest in turning around the food scene in my hometown with a farm driven cuisine, Gjelina who offers farm fresh micro-seasonal cuisine, Lukshon by Sang Yoon, the same guy that started Father’s Office. He refuses substitutions on his menu, the décor and overall cuisine is impressive. There are also a lot of nameless chefs out there who don’t even speak English that are the force behind restaurants, they can be found working in hole in the wall places that simply offer amazing food.
FM: Do you prefer wine or cocktails? What cocktail or wine specifically is your favorite?
MH: I am gluten free so I stay away from beer, I love wine and cocktails. I also love heading up to wineries to fill my car with wines that I love. I also love the cocktails that bring a different side and there are a following of professionals that want to create great art when it comes to cocktails.
FM: What is the most unusual request you have had while working as a private chef for the Hollywood scene (or just the industry in general)?
MH: Signing an NDA for a Hollywood party
FM: With the role of chef being filled by more men than women, do you see that trend changing in general or changing in the LA area?
MH: That is a multi-layered question, women 100% have their place in the kitchen, but a lot of times they are more comfortable in the home kitchen and women typically choose family over work. There is a saying of “knife or wife” and if you chose the knife it is hard to be home with your family with such crazy restaurant hours. Since women are typically the primary caretakers, they usually don’t choose being a chef because it can be demanding and take them away from their family.
FM: What do you cook for yourself at home?
MH: Anything and everything, I go in to the pantry to see what is there. But it can also be Ramen or El Pollo Loco. But, I always wipe my plate clean before serving it to myself!
FM: You offer several great services to the LA area including catering, private chef, and Moveable Feast to name a few, do you have a 5 or 10 year plan of what you would like to accomplish in the culinary world?
MH: I plan on creating an empire, I am in the process creating a line of foods and home goods, I plan to be a competitor on a show, eventually have my own cooking show, and I will be writing books. I want my career to be very multi-dimensional.
FM: How do you decide what restaurant to eat at when you are going out for dinner?
MH: I go to twitter, I will tweet what area I am in and ask where I should go, I will always get at least 5 responses. I very rarely go on Yelp since they aren’t specifically part of the food scene and can be negative.
FM: If you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life, what dish would it be and what drink would you pair it with?
MH: Pizza and wine, even though I am gluten free, there is some great gluten free crust and you can have great toppings. That and Beignets!
FM: What is your take on the future of organic foods in LA?
MH: I think if LA is as smart as we say we are, organic foods will have a huge future and we will start making better decisions.
FM: What is your favorite type of cuisine?
FM: What is the most exotic or unusual food you have eaten?
MH: I went to a place that is now closed, a sushi joint called Hump in Santa Monica, one of the people at the table ordered a fish, when it arrived it had been cut so quickly that it was still alive, it took its last breath on the table in front of them. The guys all loved it and the girls were all grossed out by it!
We have more great insight from Meg! Stay tuned for Part2 of Meg Hall: Building an Empire
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