By Interview by Joe Heim November 21, 2014 in the Washington Post Magazine
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Washington’s rising culinary star picks her favorite food in the world.
Marjorie Meek-Bradley, 30, is the executive chef at Ripple in Cleveland Park and Roofers Union in Adams Morgan. Earlier this year, she was a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for rising star chef of the year.
What’s a vegetable you have no interest in?
I love vegetables.
You can’t love all of them.
I can think of one thing: A farmer brought me some bitter melon a couple of weeks ago, and I had never really cooked with it. I did not do it justice. It was extremely bitter. It was excessively bitter.
Is there anyone you’ve been intimidated to cook for?
Alice Waters came in to eat last year, and that was pretty incredible. It was awesome, but I was a little nervous.
What is different about diners in D.C., as opposed to other places?
I think in D.C., especially nowadays, there’s a huge surge in adventurous diners. I think people put a lot of trust in chefs, and they are willing to try things that they’ve never had before or were scared of before. I have a friend who works in Philly, and he said: “I’m so jealous of you. I couldn’t put any of that stuff on my menu. People wouldn’t order it.”
What’s your managing style in the kitchen?
I like to create an environment for learning. I like to teach, and I like to have people who want to learn and grow.
Not to be maudlin, but if you could have just one more meal, what would it be?
Definitely a loaf of really good, crusty sourdough bread from San Francisco. With some really good farm butter and maybe some nice meats and cheeses on the side. But really good bread and butter is probably my favorite thing in the world. It’s kind of an issue. [Laughs.]
What was your biggest cooking disaster?
When I was in eighth grade, my parents had a pasta maker. I decided to get it out and make fresh pasta, and I had no idea what that meant, really. So I made fettuccine alfredo, and I put so many noodles in the pot that it was like one big clump. We had invited people over for dinner. I made the alfredo sauce, but I didn’t like salt. So all I can think of now is that I made this big gloppy pot of noodles and a cream sauce without any salt and how awful it must have been and how good my family was to not let me realize that.
Who is one person you’d love to cook a meal for?
I’m named after my grandmother, and she passed away while my mom was pregnant with me. And she just sounds like she was one of the most amazing women. If I could cook dinner for her and my grandfather, who I was very close to, that would be pretty awesome.