Cabin Pressure Cook-Off // Meet The Chefs
By: Taking Off
Now that we’ve met the first two contestants, let’s get to know the rest of their competition in the Cabin Pressure Cook-Off. Meet our next two contestants, Chef Kelly English and Chef George Mendes. Both are young yet highly accomplished chefs who are doing really awesome things in their kitchens in Memphis and New York respectively. Here’s what Chefs English and Mendes had to say when we asked them a few questions about themselves:
Taking Off: Where are each of you from?
Kelly English: I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana and now I live in Memphis.
George Mendes: I grew up in Danbury, Connecticut.
TO: What would you say is the most influential region in your recipes?
KE: The American South and most specifically the micro cultures from the Mississippi Delta to Acadiana to New Orleans
GM: I wouldn’t say there is a set region. My food is largely Portuguese based but globally inspired.
TO: Can you tell us about your most vivid memory of a food experience gone bad?
KE: When I was in college, I studied for six months in Barcelona. I lived with a host family that was comprised of a woman in her sixties, her father and their dog. As a gift for having me, I brought them a basket of foodstuffs from Louisiana, which included Zatarains concentrated crab boil. When they asked me what it was, I didn’t know how to translate it, so I nervously said “Sopa” (soup) as it was the closest thing I could come up with to describe it. The father was quite frail - and unbeknownst to me at the time - ate only broths and very thin soups. You may see where this is headed. Five days after I got there, I returned to the home only to be chased around the house by the broom wielding woman yelling, “No es sopa! No es sopa!” The next day, I packed up and got an apartment, which forced me to get a job to pay the additional cost of living. I went to work in a restaurant there and fell in love with food. I never looked back.
GM: I can remember to this day being terrified as a kid to the sound of my aunt and mom slaughtering rabbits.
TO: We assume you both love to travel - where will you be going next?
KE: I’m going to Greece, Croatia and Italy soon.
GM: Portugal is my next big trip.
Chef George Mendes is the Executive Chef/Owner of Aldea in New York City
Chef Kelly English is the Chef/Owner of Restaurant Iris and The Second Line in Memphis
Check out more video and inside scoop on the chefs at foodandwine.com/cabinpressurecookoff