Longtime Commander’s Palace chef departs, and for first time a woman leads the kitchen | Where NOLA Eats

For the first time in almost two decades, Commander’s Palace has a new chef. For the first time in the famous restaurant’s long history that chef is a woman.

Tory McPhail, executive chef since 2002, has resigned and is moving to Montana, where he will work with a local restaurant group in the mountain town of Bozeman.


Chef Meg Bickford of Commander’s Palace restaurant in New Orleans, Oct. 2020.

His successor at Commander’s Palace is Meg Bickford, who was previously executive sous chef.

Bickford, 34, has risen through the ranks at Commander’s Palace and is now the first woman to lead the landmark restaurant’s kitchen.

To Bickford, that speaks to a culture of mentoring at Commander’s Palace and to its family leadership. The restaurant is run today by Ti Martin and Lally Brennan, cousins who grew up in the restaurant.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow here, and a lot of people who invested the time and effort and who believed in me,” Bickford said. “That’s what we do here, and that’s why I’m in this position today.”

Passing the torch

Bickford’s new position is among the most prominent in the New Orleans culinary world, with a role that goes beyond directing its sprawling kitchen.

NO.commandersreopens_17.JPG (copy)

Commander’s Palace was voted tops in four categories, including Best new Orleans Restaurant.

Commander’s Palace is a byword for New Orleans fine dining and among the best-known restaurants in the region. Though its history goes back to 1893, it became an emblem of modern New Orleans cuisine in the 1970s after the Brennan family acquired the vintage restaurant. It pioneered haute Creole cuisine, which reshaped the national reputation of New Orleans food from a bulwark of tradition to a hotbed of innovation.

noc16784 for GAM 071320

Commander’s Palace chef Paul Prudhomme instructs apprentices in the restaurant’s kitchen. Prudhomme, then-executive chef at Commander’s Palace Restaurant, had eight apprentices working under him.

Commander’s Palace has produced some of the world’s most famous chefs, namely Paul Prudhomme and his immediate successor, Emeril Lagasse. At the same time, the restaurant has held a reputation as the “finishing school” for New Orleans culinary talent, for the generations of hospitality pros who have come through its doors.

Matriarch and mentor: How Ella Brennan’s belief in mentoring profoundly impacted culinary life of New Orleans

Ella Brennan has an expression she uses to describe her favorite chefs, especially those she worked with closely at Commander’s Palace.

That role is foremost in Bickford’s mind as she steps into the kitchen’s highest position. She acknowledges the issues of equality and inclusion now running through American discourse, and she’s driven by the potential she sees to do more.

“We need to recognize our responsibilities to our people, in our community and in our workplace,” Bickford said.

“I love that our leaders have stepped up. Our business has to reflect our community. Diversity is incredibly important to me and to this business. I also think we need to do a better job than what we’re doing, and

Read more

2 New NYPD Commanders Take Over In Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen

MIDTOWN MANHATTAN, NY — New police commanders have taken the reins in the two precincts that cover much of Midtown and Hell’s Kitchen.

The Midtown North precinct, covering the northern part of Midtown as well as Hell’s Kitchen between 42nd and 59th streets, will be led by Deputy Inspector Megan C. O’Malley.

She succeeds Inspector Mark Iocco, who is moving to Patrol Borough Manhattan South, which supervises nearly a dozen Manhattan precincts.

Meanwhile, the 10th Precinct, which includes the southern stretch of Hell’s Kitchen, Hudson Yards and Chelsea, is now led by Captain Robert Gault. Former commander Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman is moving to Patrol Borough Bronx, the NYPD said.

Both commanders assumed their new posts in late September.

O’Malley comes to Manhattan from Brooklyn’s 76th Precinct, covering Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Red Hook. A more than 10-year NYPD veteran, she had previously worked in Central Brooklyn’s 70th Precinct, according to Bklyner.

Civilians have made 10 complaints against O’Malley during her NYPD career, stemming from six separate incidents, according to police misconduct data released to the public last month by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Allegations include excessive force by the use of pepper spray, the use of offensive, race-based language and unnecessary questioning and searches.

None of the complaints were substantiated by the Civilian Complaint Review Board — four were closed without an investigation and O’Malley was cleared of wrongdoing in four more. Two were unsubstantiated, meaning the CCRB could not find enough evidence to make a determination.

Gault, a 22-year NYPD veteran, was most recently the commander of the Times Square Unit, where he supervised the response to this summer’s protests against racism and police brutality, according to the NYPD.

Before coming to Midtown, Gault served as a Lieutenant in Harlem’s 28th Precinct, a sergeant in the 10th and Midtown South Precinct, and an officer on the Upper West Side’s 20th Precinct. He also holds a law degree from Fordham Law School and is a licensed attorney, the department said.

Civilians have made eight complaints against Gault stemming from three incidents in 2003 and 2018, records show. Allegations include improper of race-based language and abuse of authority by interfering with a recording.

None of the complaints were substantiated — five were closed without an investigation, Gault was cleared of wrongdoing in two more, and another was unsubstantiated.

Reports of crime in both precincts are down so far this year compared to this time last year, including a nearly 31 percent decrease in Midtown North, according to NYPD data.

Reports of rape, robbery, felony assault and grand larceny have all dropped in Midtown North. Burglary and car thefts have both risen, and the number of murders

Read more