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.



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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.



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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.



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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

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Kitchen United Names Michael Montagano CEO as Jim Collins Departs

Kitchen United, a ghost kitchen industry leader, announced the appointment of Michael Montagano as Chief Executive Officer and newest member of the company’s Board of Directors following two years serving as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. Additionally, Joy Lai has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer from her previous position as Chief Marketing Officer.

“Over the past three years, we have built a solid foundation on which to grow. I am proud of what we accomplished in my years at Kitchen United, and can say without a doubt the Kitchen United team is the best that I’ve had the privilege to serve alongside. I know they will continue to achieve great success in the years ahead,” says former CEO Jim Collins, who departed the company to focus on personal endeavors.

“Michael is well positioned to continue to build upon Kitchen United’s industry leadership and help restaurant partners achieve optimal success,” adds David Krane, CEO and Managing Partner at GV. “He has been instrumental in growing the business and charting the course for the future, making him the ideal leader to advance the company into its next chapter of growth. Together with Joy, who has a deep understanding of consumer adoption and scaling businesses, we are confident the Kitchen United leadership team will achieve long-term success.”

Montagano joined Kitchen United as CFO in 2018, as an experienced executive with a proven track record of building and scaling venture-backed companies. He led capital formation initiatives for the company securing institutional financing partners including GV, Fidelity Investments, and G Squared, as well as strategic partners, RXR Realty, DivcoWest and Rich’s Food Products. Prior to Kitchen United, Montagano helped shepherd PowerFlex Systems from seed-stage to acquisition by a Fortune Global 100, Electricite de France (ENXTPA:EDF). He currently sits on the Board of Directors for Dog Haus World-Wide, one of the country’s fastest-growing national restaurant chains.

Montagano grew up in a restaurant family anchored by an Italian restaurant and neighborhood butchery founded by his grandparents. He received his MBA from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and his JD from Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law.

“I look forward to working closely with our exceptional senior leadership team and our entire board of directors,” Montagano says. “We believe strongly in the Company’s growth potential as we sharpen our focus on serving our clients and creating value for our stakeholders.”

In her new role as Chief Operating Officer, Lai oversees sales, marketing and operations at Kitchen United. She joined Kitchen United in 2019 bringing nearly two decades of experience driving growth for Enterprises and SMBs, including launching/scaling products, partnerships, and optimizing omni-channel strategies. She previously held strategic leadership roles at Internet Brands, The Wonderful Company and Bain & Company. Lai received a BS from the University of California, Berkeley, and a MS from Stanford University.

“Our team has built a burgeoning business by marrying deep experience in the industry with a passion for growing off-premise business for restaurant operators,” says Lai. “I look forward to

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Obama departs White House en route to Allentown, Pennsylvania

Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs; David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to the President; Bill Burton, Deputy Press Secretary; and Cody Keenan, Speechwriter; (L to R) walk to Marine 1 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington to accompany United States President Barack Obama to Allentown, Pennsylvania on December 4, 2009 to discuss jobs and the economy before returning late in the afternoon. UPI/Ron Sachs/POOL

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White House Staffers Cheer on South Lawn As Trump Departs for Presidential Debate

White House staffers gathered in a line along the White House South Lawn on Tuesday and cheered as President Donald Trump departed for Cleveland, Ohio to attend the first 2020 presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.



a man standing next to a woman: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk to the White House Rose Garden on September 28, 2020.


© Tasos Katopodis/Getty
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk to the White House Rose Garden on September 28, 2020.

A crowd of Trump administration employees stood behind a white rope cheering and waving with flags as the president and first lady Melania Trump walked by ahead of their departure.

In a few hours, Trump is expected to face the most direct challenge of his job performance as president and handling of the coronavirus in the first of three debates against his Democratic opponent.

Who Is Chris Wallace, Fox Anchor And Presidential Debate Moderator?

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Fox News anchor Chris Wallace will moderate the live event to an in-person crowd of around 70 people, a much smaller audience compared to previous debates, due to the pandemic.

A new Monmouth University poll found that 74 percent of voters plan on tuning in to watch the heated showdown. However, an overwhelming majority of those who plan to watch—87 percent—doubt the debate will change their minds about who to vote for on Election Day.

According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, topics that will be covered tonight include Trump and Biden’s voting records, the Economy, the Supreme Court and COVID, as well as race and violence in American cities. Candidates will have roughly two minutes to answer their questions, with each segment lasting around 15 minutes.

In recent weeks, the two candidates have taken vastly different approaches to preparing for the debate. With 35 days until November 3, Trump has been grinding out back-to-back in-person campaign rallies and events in key swing states. While earlier reports indicated that he had decided to skip formal debate preparations, Trump on Sunday told reporters that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie have been helping him prepare “a little.”

“President Trump prepares for debates every day by being president and building an excellent record to run on for reelection,” Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told CNBC.

Biden wound down campaign events last Thursday to ramp up debate preparation. According to the Associated Press, the former vice president has participated in mock debate sessions, with senior campaign adviser Bob Bauer playing the role of Trump. Bauer didn’t dress up as the president, but he has been imitating his unique style and expected strategy by hurling insults and strange digressions at Biden.

Biden laid out his strategy on MSNBC over the weekend, revealing that he will be taking the fight to Trump.

“I’m prepared to go out and make my case as to why I

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