Anyone who is aware of music trade mogul Marcie Allen Van Mol, the founding father of MAC Presents, is effectively conscious that she grew to become some of the profitable figures in music and a perpetual identify on music energy gamers lists by scoffing on the guidelines.
So when she and husband Derek Van Mol have been in search of a chef for his or her Nashville scorching spot, Anzie Blue, in fact they went trying outdoors the field. And having a watch for expertise, the couple discovered their, no pun supposed, Star — Star Maye.
Maye is charismatic, artistic, ingenious and in possession of a again story, from Alabama to the navy and Alaska, worthy of a TV film. But being a Black, queer, feminine chef, she was by no means given the prospect to be an govt chef.
As Allen Van Mol explains, that’s sadly not stunning. “There’s such a disparity between the number of female executive chefs and male, and then when you actually talk about the percentage, compared to people of color and then also queer executive chefs, the number is crazy,” she says.
Indeed, the numbers are downright miserable. Of 135, 236 Executive Chefs within the U.S. in 2022 in keeping with Zippia, solely 12.5 of these are girls, 10.4 are Black and solely eight p.c are LGBTQ. So being a Black, feminine, queer govt chef, Maye is actually a unicorn.
Thankfully, after 20 years of in search of the suitable dwelling, Maye has discovered her good artistic companion within the Van Mols. To rejoice her one-year anniversary at Anzie Blue, Maye was a made an element proprietor. She additionally has an upcoming prepare dinner guide — A Star Among Us: A Chef’s Story — out June 23, hopes to broaden Anzie Blue in a post-COVID world and Maye is a rising star within the meals house.
Steve Baltin: Star, how lengthy have you ever been at Anzie Blue? How did you join anyway?
Star Maye: Through a mutual pal. Another chef pal of mine sort of introduced me on to assist at Anzie Blue at first, possibly final March.
Baltin: Do you’re feeling like being at a CBD house, you are allowed to possibly be extra artistic, whether or not it is cannabis-infused or not?
Maye: Lucky for me, Marcy sort of provides me the room to be as artistic as I might be. I inform individuals in all probability essentially the most fascinating factor that I’ve created was the Deviled Egg Flight. I do not know the place that got here from. I simply knew that devilled eggs is a really southern factor. But I ain’t a one-trick pony, so I wished to have a number of flavors on a flight. So I simply went by and tasted all this bizarre stuff till, [laughter] till one thing tasted good. So that is sort of how like that happened. So it does permit me to have the ability to push the envelope a bit of bit as a result of I already know that if persons are coming right here, they’re already fairly open-minded about issues, so they could be a bit of bit extra adventurous with their meals.
Baltin: What are a few of the most fascinating flavors you present in devilled eggs?
Maye: Right now we’ve got 5 on the menu. You get 5 devilled eggs in a flight. And so we’ve got the southern conventional as a result of we’re within the south, after which I acquired cheddar and bacon, tomato, and mozzarella, pesto and tomato, and capers, cream cheese and pink onion. You simply gotta come and see. But I like that smoked salmon cream cheese. I like that lox bagel really feel. So that’s the place that got here from. But I feel that I missed it by not placing the salmon on there, however I is perhaps placing it on there. We’ll must see what occurs.
Baltin: I speak to so many musicians who like to prepare dinner as a result of it is a artistic launch for them and totally different from what they’re used to doing. Do you discover that working there, you discovered form of this pure correlation between music and cooking?
Maye: Yeah, I’m a music woman myself. I’m not an expert in any approach, however I’ve been taking part in hand drums in all probability for about 15 to 18 years. So when I’m not cooking, music is my launch. So these two issues undoubtedly go hand-in-hand. I feel that creative-minded individuals is a factor. Artists, actors, all of us have that artistic aspect and we generally can dabble into one another’s world as a result of the creativity remains to be there. I do neighborhood theater too. I’m a theater child. I like various kinds of creativity. So it does not simply depart it there. Cooking is the place I discovered my dwelling as a result of that is what I’m used to from rising up and being round my household. So it was simply pure for me. But I paint, I construct furnishings. I’m a really artistic individual outdoors of simply cooking simply usually.
Baltin: What’s your favourite music to prepare dinner to once you’re simply messing round, if you happen to’re at dwelling and also you’re experimenting for enjoyable, cooking for associates?
Maye: Soul funk [laughter]. Put me some Bootsy Collins on and we gonna dance by the kitchen and get the job performed, possibly some Earth, Wind & Fire. I like an excellent “Boogie Land,” some “September.”
Baltin: What would you make for Earth, Wind & Fire if they arrive into Anzie Blue?
Maye: People come there for the aspect, Steve. I’m not gonna lie about it. The mac and cheese, the candies, candy potatoes, the collard greens, the brussel sprouts, they’re there for all of that.
Baltin: So you are having a cocktail party. You’re having Marcy, Bootsy Collins, three, 4 different individuals over, what do you make?
Maye: Knowing Marcy, it is gonna be some kind of seafood, as a result of she’s acquired a really strict weight loss plan. I do know that she likes these seafood issues, that she doesn’t take pleasure in salmon. So we’ll in all probability have some very nice scallops and shrimp. I’ll take you again to my panhandle roots, rising up on the seaside space, that is the place my consolation is, in that kind of meals. So I’d in all probability convey that proper on again, possibly make some shrimp creole. That sounds good. And I feel everyone would have the ability to admire that as a result of that is a type of meals that may be a reminiscence. If you have ever been in New Orleans, which I’m certain these individuals have, and also you style that meals, you are gonna be like, “Oh, I remember when.”
Baltin: As we’re speaking about this, I’m realizing there’s so many similarities between music and meals and one of many massive ones is, once more, it takes you again. You hear a track that you simply heard once you’re six years previous and it takes you again to being six years previous and you consider the mac and cheese you ate, or grilled cheese or no matter. So what are your throwback meals?
Maye: I’ve acquired to let you know, it is a very underrated meals, I inform individuals this on a regular basis, nevertheless it’s very versatile. You may do a number of issues with it, nevertheless it’s the underdog of meals, and it is simply grits. I’ve been cooking grits since I used to be 5 years previous. So now at this tender age I’m at, not very many individuals are cooking them pretty much as good as me. So grits is a type of issues that holds you and places you to mattress at night time. You can eat it any time of the day. You could make it right into a cake. You can fry it. Once it is performed, you are able to do no matter you wish to with it.
Baltin: How previous have been you once you began cooking?
Maye: I’m gonna say in all probability about 5. My grandmother all the time had us within the kitchen, however I feel that that was the primary time she ever requested me to do one thing within the kitchen. She was busy and he or she kicked my little stool to the range and he or she was like, “Hey girl, get up there and stir them grits.” So I acquired up there on my little stool, I acquired the picket spoon and I stirred these grits.
Baltin: So once you make them now, does it take you again to being 5?
Maye: Yes, it does. She beloved Mahalia Jackson, my grandmother. So listening to that Mahalia Jackson and stirring these grits, it’s totally sentimental and it all the time makes me smile each time, they be like, “What are you smiling at?” I’m like, “Don’t worry about it, it was just a good memory.”
Baltin: Where’d you develop up by the way in which?
Maye: I grew up in a small city known as Excel, Alabama, Repton, Alabama. So it is a road and one aspect of the road is one city and one aspect of the road is one other city. [laughter] So it is exhausting to say. People ask the place I’m from, “Okay, I went to Excel high school, but my address was Repton, Alabama.” It’s the center of nowhere. It was a mud street. It was a pink clay filth street that divided two counties, Conecuh County and Monroe County. One aspect is Repton and one aspect is Excel. So you gotta be caught within the center. My GPS goes loopy after I go dwelling. It does not know what to do.
Baltin: How’d you find yourself in Nashville?
Maye: By approach of an entire bunch of stuff. I simply did a complete bunch of stuff [laughter]. I stored throwing spaghetti noodles until one in every of them stood, and after I acquired to Nashville, it stood. So I’ve been right here now for about, happening 9 years. I used to be within the Navy, stationed in San Diego. I did that for a short while and I’ve labored on fish camps in Alaska and oil rigs and seashores, all sort of seashores. I’ve cooked all around the state of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana.
Baltin: I do know that is your first gig as an govt chef. Talk in regards to the significance of being in a spot the place you might have a lady supporting you. Do you’re feeling like that is made a giant distinction for you?
Maye: Oh, undoubtedly made an enormous distinction, simply having an individual imagine in what you are doing. I’ve by no means performed it earlier than. So for an individual simply to leap out and be like, “You can do this,” that was value 1,000,000 bucks. I’ve been displaying this for therefore a few years and it has fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes. But for some motive, I walked on this door and this girl is like, “I believe in you, you could do this,” that undoubtedly adjustments issues. When you’re a individual like me with so many adversities , they sort of low cost me after I stroll within the door. They was like, “She’ll be a prep person or whatever.” I inform individuals, it took me so lengthy to get to a bodily hotline. And then as soon as I acquired to the hotline, then it was like, primary, no person’s ever higher than me on the hotline. It’s simply the way in which it’s as a result of I made myself higher on function. I did not actually have a selection. So it does not matter the place you place me, it is gonna achieve success. It does not matter. I’ve confirmed that fingers down over and over. I inform individuals that is the distinction between me and different cooks is that I have not had a selection however to work from a dishwasher all the way in which to the chief chef. So that makes my work ethic a bit of bit totally different than my counterparts. And with the ability to work with Marcy and have such a robust feminine workers is nice ‘trigger everyone is simply attempting to excel at no matter we’re doing and I like that.
Baltin: At what level did you develop that positivity?
Maye: Believe it or not, as soon as I left Florida. I labored there for therefore lengthy simply attempting to get my foot within the door and do what I wanted to do till by the point I used to be leaving there, I used to be overwhelmed. I felt overwhelmed up. I did not even suppose I’d prepare dinner after I got here to Nashville to work at Amazon. I had sort of given up on it. I used to be like, “Well maybe that’s not my thing. Maybe I just need to try something different.” I’m like, “I’m not getting anywhere at this job and I don’t want to continue to put this much time into something if it’s not gonna have a end game other than me making salads for $9 an hour. I can’t live on that.” But after I acquired to Nashville, what I’ve observed right here is that it is not a number of expertise. Most of the cooks listed here are very younger. They might need 5 years of expertise versus my 23. Now that modified the taking part in subject for me. Now my 15 years or 16 years of expertise seems actually nice on a resume right here.
Baltin: What do you hope others take out of your story and the truth that you discovered success in a spot the place you are allowed to be your self?
Maye: It took time. Even at my breaking level, after I thought that this wasn’t gonna be the factor for me, I pivot, and growth, there we go. Once I acquired to Tennessee, it nonetheless took me seven years to seek out Marcy. So it takes that getting up day by day. I might need gotten knocked down 18 instances, however I acquired up 19. So so long as you persist by no matter it’s, and when life will get loopy and also you’re prepared to maneuver, you do not have to maneuver since you’ve already put the time in. Just pivot, strive it a special approach. Try one thing you did not do. Because what I had by no means performed was labored at a rustic membership. I did not know. I’ve been engaged on a Panhandle, had a number of work at fish camps in Alaska. I did all this loopy stuff, however I by no means labored in a rustic membership. I discovered a lot, I pivot. I simply went and did one thing completely totally different I’d by no means performed earlier than. Because primary, I’m an individual who likes to study. Cooking is evolving day by day each day. People might say I’m ingenious, however there’s anyone proper subsequent to me who’s simply as ingenious as I’m. So it is all perspective. And I feel that’s the place it’s a must to begin to change, is altering the way in which you view it. At one level I acquired to the place I did not take rejection as rejection, I began to take it as stepping stones to assist me additional myself.
Baltin: Are there individuals that you simply have a look at and you have admired whether or not it is in enterprise, arts, no matter, for the truth that they’re capable of regularly develop and reinvent themselves?
Maye: Yes. Yeah, in my music trade, I like Mary J. Blige. I’ve been listening to Mary J Blige since I used to be a small woman. She got here out within the ’90s, I used to be in my teen years, in order that was very pivotal for me. But ever since this girl has come out, each album, the expansion that I really feel, it looks like I’ve grown up together with her. And after I noticed her on the Super Bowl, I used to be identical to, “Didn’t get married, and did it again. Godly Mary, you keep me on my toes. Girl, I love it.” Also, and I’m not attempting to be any sort of approach despite the fact that she my sister from one other mister. I love Marcy. To have an individual like her on my crew rooting for me all the time, wanting my opinions and exhibiting me how necessary of an individual I’m to her, that’s pivotal for me. And to see her go from a music mogul to beginning her personal enterprise, to beginning a restaurant with no restaurant expertise. [laughter] And they have been profitable earlier than they even moved in to the constructing and began meals. They have been nice with charcuterie boards and occasional. And she simply went and purchased some George Foreman grills and a few Keurigs and known as it a spot. That takes guts. That is an individual I wish to know.
Baltin: Where do you see this going? Do you wish to broaden?
Maye: Yeah. With COVID and no matter, staffing has been an actual concern for us at Anzie Blue. So that is in all probability what has been the largest deterrent for me desirous to broaden into different markets or, simply even opening one other Anzie Blue. I’d love to do this. I feel that each city wants a Anzie blue as a result of I inform individuals it is not a restaurant. Yes, we promote meals, we acquired espresso, we acquired pastries, we acquired all variety. We do charcuterie boards and catering, every kind of that stuff. But on the finish of the day, it is a neighborhood spot. I like going on the market seeing the school youngsters on their laptop computer, attempting to check for his or her midterms and other people coming in and determine to have their conferences there and hang around for hours and pay attention and benefit from the house. We’re constructing a neighborhood and I really feel like all cities proper now on this period that we’re in wants a neighborhood place. So I’d like to convey my neighborhood alongside. I inform those that’s my dwelling. Anzie Blue is my coronary heart. So y’all are in my dwelling once you are available. So I haven’t got clients. I’ve company. They are welcome anytime.
Baltin: Where would you wish to see Anzie Blue go subsequent?
Maye: Anywhere. I really feel like Anzie Blue could be an incredible seaside aspect place additionally. Nashville is a staple, however I really feel prefer it’s acquired that sort of beachy vibe within the metropolis, that is like, it is actual chill once you stroll in and Zen. So I do really feel like an incredible seaside location could be superior. I’ve had a number of individuals attempt to get us to California and a number of other individuals attempt to get us to Florida and totally different locations. I additionally had somebody ask about New Orleans. So I’m like all these locations sound cool to me. I’m gonna journey quickly to them. I used to be like I acquired to be accountable for the menu [laughter].