In the world of meat, men usually rule. But at Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse in Gramercy Park, chef Brandi McHan is in charge of the grill. The 30-year-old Texas-born chef has been cooking since 2007, and for the past three years has cut her chops at chef Bryan Caswell’s Reef in Houston. When Angelo’s Steakhouse shuttered its doors last year, Vic & Anthony’s moved in and opened their fourth restaurant and their first in New York. McHan moved here in December to open the steakhouse with them, and so far, she likes living in the city. I caught up with the petit chef to find out how she got into meat, and what it’s like working in man’s world.
How did you get into the steakhouse business?
Actually, it just kind of happened. I have worked in Mexican, seafood and Italian restaurants. So, the next step for me was a steakhouse.
Where did you learn to grill?
I learned to grill from my grandpa and parents. It was a weekend thing to turn the pit on and barbecue.
Do you think it’s odd not many women are executive chefs at a steakhouse?
I don’t think it’s odd actually. I think a woman can run a steakhouse, but it is few and far between. It won’t be in the years to come. Women chefs are being more accepted every day, and, who says a woman can’t do a steakhouse or any other restaurant.
How did you break the mold?
To me, there was no mold to break. I’ve worked with both men and women in the kitchen.
What’s the hardest cut of meat to work with?
One of my favorite cuts of meat is sirloin, but it’s also the hardest to work with because it can be tough if not cut or cooked properly.
What do you like to eat on your day off?
I love sushi. So, I like to try all the different restaurants around the city like Sushi Samba, Kyo Ya, and Blue Ribbon Sushi. But, I don’t have a favorite here. I’m kind of spoiled from back home because there is a restaurant call Uchi and it’s my favorite sushi.
Since you are new to New York, is there anything you always wanted to do in this city?
This may sound funny, but I want to try the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Madison Square Park to see what it’s really about. I’m from the south [Texas-south] and barbecue is one of our things.