I’ve never met André Hueston Mack face-to-face, but I’d like to think I have. Since Mack joined the CurEat community as a CurEater in 2017, I’ve followed him on Instagram. You can easily type “André Hueston Mack” into your search bar and find article upon article about Mack, including pieces in The New York Times, Food & Wine, and The Wall Street Journal. He is that cool and just really good at what he does. What does he do? For starters, he is a sommeiler, winemaker, and designer living in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and author, Phoebe Damrosch. Winemaking was always a dream of his so he established Maison Noir Wines in 2007.
All of that being said, I really thought I knew Mack. But, I only knew about his career successes. The great thing about working at CurEat is that I get the opportunity to really get to know the people in our digital community. So without further adieu, meet the coolest man you’ll read about on the internet this week, André Hueston Mack.
- Most notable food memory? I would have to say the first time I had polenta. It was at a place called ‘Cesca. I had it when I moved to NYC in 2004. I tell people it was the best thing I’d ever put in my mouth. It was probably 25% polenta and the rest was probably butter, cream and cheese. It was life changing. I couldn’t believe it.
- Most sought after dinner guest, living or not? For me it would be Jean-Michele Basquiat. Someone who would appreciate the food but would have a more in-depth conversation about a variety of things.
- If you were not doing what you were doing what would you be? To be honest with you, I would really want to be an actor. You get to learn and grow and be all these different people throughout your life. You can learn piano, golf, etc. Somehow I feel that would be the most intriguing thing to me. I guess I sort of do that now because I keep it fresh in my life.
- What restaurant do you most want to visit? Chef Michele Bras’ Le Suquet.
- What is your favorite food city that you have been to? Raleigh, North Carolina. I’ve always felt that college towns have the best, real restaurant scene because you have people from a lot of economical backgrounds. I also really enjoy the food scene in Asheville, NC. I’m intrigued by the south.
- What city do you most want to visit that you have not been to? London. I’ve been a James Bond fan my whole life. There’s always been a fascination about the place. I know it’s not known for it’s food, but I would go just to try the Indian curry.
- Junk food vice? Little Debbie Cream Pies and now they make the doubles or the triples. I can’t handle it. I just go crazy.
- What quality do you most look for in a vegetable? Freshness.
- What’s your favorite vegetable? Asparagus
- What’s your greatest food extravagance? I was at the cheese store yesterday and I told the guy I would take a quarter or half of Pleasant Ridge Reserve and it was $73. I went back the next day and asked for more. This woman made eye contact with me and said, “That block of cheese was $73? I thought $36 was a lot.” My biggest extravagance would be the antique meat slicer and stand I bought about 5 years ago, along with an Ibérico Ham.
- What/who do you listen to while cooking? I listen to a lot of Harry Connick Jr. It keeps me light on my feet. Snappy.
- When was the last time you cooked at home? What did you make? Chicken tenders with my sons. We took a chicken breast, cut it into strips, and cooked it in a Sous Vide. We made different batter mixes. My sons had different ones that they thought was the best. Rolled the chicken around in the batter and fried them up.
- Where would you love to cook a meal at? Blackberry Farm
Breakfast and Lunch
- What’s the most overrated ingredient? Cilantro
- If you had the chance to redo one meal/cocktail you’ve ever served, which one would it be? Meatloaf is amazing. In all honesty it’s just hot pâté. I would definitely raise the flag for re-creating meatloaf and getting behind it and changing its perception. Maybe use some better beef.
- If you were only allowed to keep one sense only, what would it be and why? I have to say vision. Close second would be taste. But, it also depends on how you ask the question. If you were to ask if I was only born with one sense what would it be, I would say sight. But if were in reference to the present moment, I would say taste because I’ve seen the world.
- If you could bring back one deceased relative to cook for, who would it be and what would you cook for them? It would have to be my great aunt. She was my mother’s aunt and my grandfather’s sister. Her name was Sarah Kenney Mack. We called her auntie. She taught me how to use a screw driver and pour her drinks. She was the woman who told me that we don’t buy frozen pizza at the store, we order a pizza. I would cook something she would enjoy like catfish. I would prepare it like a Dover sole. Treat it in a royal way.
- Is there a special recipe you would ask them about. No because she never cooked. Cooking wasn’t her thing but eating was. She lived in the 70s. She would eat steak and eggs for breakfast and have a cup of coffee with a cigarette.
- Biggest culinary/bartender inspiration? Why?I’ve been watching MasterClass and it brings me back to working for Thomas Keller. Just hearing his voice puts all things in perspective. I miss working for him but I realize how much I actually learned from him.
- What book are you currently reading? Jay. Z Made in America by Michael Eric Dyson
- Biggest threat to Food & Beverage industry? GrubHub. It’s kind of a two fold question. The way that we eat out will change. For example, drinking and driving is unacceptable so we take Uber. Now, Uber makes you question whether you have a car. Websites like GrubHub and Caviar cannibalize the dining experience. I worry that people will stop going out to eat.
- If you can change one thing about the food and beverage industry what would it be? Gratuity for counter-service restaurants. It irks me in some ways. It’s taken for granted. When you go to home depot, there isn’t a option to tip. In that way we’ve lost what it means to be hospitable. All of the options are 18%, 20%, or 25%. I would change that so people understood.
- How would you doctor up store bought Ramen? When I was young, I never like it soupy. I only liked the noodle part. We would generally put the hot noodles on top of cheese and sprinkle garlic salt. Now, I would probably bring more heat to it by adding kimchi paste for heat and sweetness. And, add a little bit of Chinese sausage.
- What imaginary figure would you most want to cook for? What would you serve? Wile E Coyote. I would serve him road runner. Just roast it a little bit with some dried cherries and brandy sauce.
- What would you tell your 20 year old self? Should’ve worked harder.
- What’s your idea of a perfect meal? A 5 course meal that ends with cheese and no dessert. I like small portions where I get to taste a variety of different things.
- What do you most value in your peers/team? Composure. The ability to hold it all together. Resilience. I test it every single day. I’m demanding, and when I think we can get something done, they surprise me all the time.
- What’s your death row meal? Alaskan crab legs and just pure butter with Pinot Gris
- What is your motto? Don’t let school get in the way of your education.
Now that you’ve learned a bit more about André Hueston Mack, I’m sure you’re wondering where he likes to eat and drink. You can find his restaurant recommendations on the CurEat App (available for iOS and Android). He has restaurant recommendations from Marfa, TX to Detroit, MI and beyond.