Born and raised in New York City, Chef Ed McFarland started his culinary journey at the age of 17 at a Staten Island pizzeria. Today, McFarland owns Ed’s Lobster Bar, located in SoHo and the Lower East Side, as well Caravelli’s pizzeria in the World Financial Center.
Ed is always in action; he runs all his places and if you ask his staff when the chef is expected, the answer will be “he is coming in the next 30 minutes.” When he shows up, he will walk the tables to say hello to his friends and regulars. He has sky-blue eyes and his smile is so friendly that it gives you a moment of confidence that helps get you into a great mood.
Ed is a great combination of a gifted chef and a savvy businessman. Since the opening of Ed’s Lobster Bar in 2007, he has transformed the place on Lafayette Street into a busy lunch destination. At night, the bar is full with regulars and enthusiastic new guests, soon to become part of Ed’s big, happy family.
This isn’t surprising. Comfort is always subconscious; you can enjoy your meal cooked to perfection, but what will make it unforgettable will be in the little details – atmosphere, service, the rest of the diners – and in here it’s all done right. As soon as you walk into the restaurant you are welcomed by the smell in the air, layered with the aromas of freshly prepared seafood – sweet, salty and creamy. One glance is enough to understand that people dining in this restaurant know very well why they are here.
The majority come for the famous lobster rolls, others strictly for the grilled fish or the clam chowder. Whatever you chose to order – bucket of steamers, crab and artichoke dip, served in a glazed clay dish cooked to perfection with white toast or steamed lobster (you have to start with some oysters) – the selection is modest yet truly remarkable.
For the August issue of MAZA Chef Ed McFarland prepared three amazing summer recipes – grilled fillet of striped bass with corn ragout, garden tomato salad and the lobster rolls I’m addicted to. Ed also shared some thoughts about good food, favorite places in New York City, and what it takes to have a successful restaurant.
Natalia Tordorova: Where did you grow up?
Ed McFarland: Brooklyn and Staten Island
NT: How did you learn to cook?
EM: At home
NT: When did you decide to become a chef?
EM: I was 20 cooking in a pizzeria and decided to go to cooking school
NT: If you were not a chef, what profession would you choose?
EM: No other option.
NT: Challenges of opening a restaurant?
EM: Getting capital, securing a good location, getting the right staff, and being prepared for the unexpected.
NT: What does it take to have a successful restaurant?
EM: First you have to love what you are doing. Be specific to your concept and do it well you can't accommodate everyone all the time. Put the time in before you open and learn the business, and put in the time after you open.
NT: Favorite fisherman? Where does the lobster come from?
EM: I source from many different shippers and do not know the local who transports down to NYC.
NT: What differentiates Ed’s Lobster Bar from the rest of the lobster places?
EM: We are lobster-centric. ost of the others serve a lobster roll and a whole lobster. Our menu is 60 to 70% lobster.
NT: What’s the secret of having the restaurant staff always so happy and friendly?
EM: Staff attitude comes from the top. It is a requirement to be friendly and smiling in the service industry, and I expect a good attitude and work ethic to trickle down.
NT: Favorite ingredient?
EM: Butter, salt and parsley are my tops followed by home grown tomatoes and basil.
NT: Favorite food?
EM: Hands down, pizza.
NT: Favorite Bar?
EM: Spring Lounge.
NT: Recent food discovery?
EM: Good BBQ
NT: Which place you want to visit next?
EM: South of France for a seafood dining vacation.
NT: Local place you love to go to and you don’t want to change?
NT: Favorite brunch spot?
EM: Don’t eat brunch.
NT: Favorite Chef?
EM: No favorites but I think that you can learn how to succeed in the industry from chefs like Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Tom Colicchio, etc … shows that hard work and attention to detail, and being on top of your game can get you far.
NT: Where do you go for a treat?
EM: Pertucci’s for lemon ice.
NT: Place you want to eat at?
EM: Le Bernardin.
NT: What is your childhood memory of a homemade comfort dish?
EM: BBQ chicken cooked on charcoal.
Behind each recipe lies a secret. No more secrets. Start practicing and if you still can't get it right, you can always go to Ed's Lobster Bar.
Garden Tomato Salad
All the ingredients were hand-harvested from Ed’s garden. The result is the quintessence of summer - fresh and tasty, boosted with vitamins
Grilled Fillet of Striped Bass with Corn Ragout
There so many reasons to learn how to cook, and this recipe is one of them. Pair it with a great
bottle of chilled and crispy white wine and you will have a mesmerizing night.
Find the recipes at the August issue of MAZA Cooking Journals, our iPad magazine available for free from the iTunes Store. Or go to www.mazamag.com
Ed’s Lobster Bar
222 Lafayette Street,
New York, NY 10012