After receiving his bachelor’s in psychology and working as a substance abuse counselor, Parkville native John Bedingfield shifted gears and became a chef. He worked with Chad Gauss at the Food Market, then Bedingfield took a corporate gig—until Gauss pulled him back to Baltimore to helm the spinoff, Food Marketa, which opened at Quarry Lake in September.
Why did you switch careers?
Working in a group home was rewarding, but mentally and physically draining. I was 25 and thinking, “What am I going to do that will make me happy? Why am I here?” I had a passion for cooking, so I decided to go back for a master’s in hospitality management. I felt like culinary school wasn’t a step ahead, more of a lateral, so I went for my master’s.
Where was your first gig?
At Stoney River in Towson, a steakhouse at the mall. The chef let me work part-time. I was still working full-time at the Board of Child Care and getting my master’s at the same time. Plus volunteering with a scout troop. I’m an Eagle Scout.
So you’re a straight arrow?
No, I got that out of my system in college.
How’d you meet up with Chad?
A friend of mine had worked with Chad at City Cafe. Chad also grew up Parkville. I’m a couple of years behind him.
So you two are “brothers from another mother”?
Pretty much; he went to Parkville High School, too. He called and said, “I’m opening Food Market,” and offered me a job as line cook. I worked my way up to sous chef and executive sous. At that point I accepted a traveling chef position with Guckenheimer, a corporate dining company.
That sounds like a radical change.
They had accounts across the East Coast. In Baltimore, they have Under Armour. I worked at Alexion Pharmaceuticals in New Haven, PVH [Phillips-Van Heusen] in New Jersey and Dick’s Sporting Goods. I’d go in as opening chef and get everyone up to speed.
What was your most memorable gig?
I worked for the executive dining room of the Inter-American Development Bank in D.C. It controls all the funding from North to South America. They had a Latin American kitchen run by French chef, but the cooks were from all over South America. I was there for about 10 weeks—my longest gig. The president of the bank would have anywhere from two to 120 for lunch. We would know a day ahead, and you were never sure. We’d order filet mignon for 55 and 60 would show up.
Wow, what would you do in that situation?
Pray for a few to be vegetarians.
Is that where you picked up the Latin American cred for La Food Marketa?
I learned how they made pupusa and pan de queso. I learned Latin American techniques.
Is that what inspired Chad to decide to spin off the new place?
No, the idea came earlier. Back when I was at the Food Market, when we had family meal (the staff meal before service), Tuesday was always tacos; that was my favorite. We always talked about how it much fun it would be to have our version of Latin food, and we even came up with the name, Food Marketa. So one day he calls me and says, “I’ve got a building. You want to come and look at it?” I was on board right away.
Chef’s Recipe: Chipotle Brussels
Courtesy of Chef Bedingfield
Makes 4 servings.
Chipotle Caesar Dressing
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1½ tablespoons chipotle powder
In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, Dijon, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Add garlic, salt and chipotle powder.
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice ends off Brussels, cut in half, and toss in oil and salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
¼ cup panko
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Toast panko on a sheet tray for 4-5 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown and delicious. While hot, toss panko with Parmesan.
Toss warm Brussels with Caesar dressing and sprinkle with panko.