Doug Mace, exec chef of CY Steak: "I don't want a 1919 train conductor lookalike serving my food"
This is part one of my interview with Doug Mace, exec chef of Cy Steak and the forthcoming BaRed; part two of my chat with Mace will run tomorrow.
"I was a fat, chubby kid -- you know, the kind of kid who was always eating," admits Doug Mace, executive chef at CY Steak, a temple to marbled beef and slender strippers who occasionally strut their stuff on the runway that stretches across the dimly lit, sexy dining room next door to the Diamond Cabaret.
Mace was born and raised on Long Island, and food "was an integral part of everything in my life," he says -- in his kitchen at home, at restaurants and even in the car, where he and his dad would swell their bellies with mozzarella and pinwheels from the Italian deli on the corner. "I've just always loved food," sighs Mace, who was thirteen when he landed his first cooking job, at an Italian restaurant called Franina that still ranks as one of New York's top kitchens.
"I remember walking into the kitchen for the first time and being enamored with the overwhelming smell of garlic and fresh-baked bread," says Mace, who worked on and off at Franina for eight years, starting off as the resident floor sweeper before moving his way up to busboy, back-waiter and line cook. "The learning curve was never-ending, and the exposure to incredible products was limitless. No one had anything less than a perfect meal there, because everyone had the same high standards." He took time off from that kitchen to pursue an associate's degree from the Culinary Institute of America, which led to an externship at Morimoto, in New York City, where he was eventually hired as a line cook.
Cooking at Morimoto was "a phenomenal experience," he says, an experience that paraded him through nearly every station and taught him volumes about cooking for endless crowds. "I used to kill 150 lobsters every single morning, because you knew they were going to sell. It was always extremely busy, which I loved, but my favorite part of that job was eating there," Mace confesses.
He eventually left both gigs to move to Denver. "I needed to get away and do something for myself," he explains, "so I quit my jobs at Morimoto and Franina, packed my stuff up, bought a ticket and moved to Denver to ski and snowboard and get my bachelor's degree from Johnson & Wales." His first job in the Mile High City was at Epicurean Catering; he also spent time behind the line at Ocean Prime and Linger, which is where he was cooking when he met Cliff and Zach Young, the owners of CY Steak and BaRed, a small-plates restaurant and bar that will open next to the steakhouse by the end of the year.