Chef of the Month: Martie Duncan of Martie Knows Parties

Name: Martie Duncan

Website: MartieDuncan.com

Where were you born and raised?

Birmingham, AL.

What inspired you to become a chef?

I’m not “officially” a chef—but I suppose if you cook for other people then technically, you are a chef. My mother was an incredible cook and made three homemade meals per day complete with homemade bread and desserts. When you grow up in that environment, you cook. It’s a way of life.

Where did you learn to cook?

I have no formal culinary training—I learned most of what I know about cooking from my mother or from trial and error. Frank Stitt did once let me shadow his staff at Bottega and I learned a great deal about restaurant techniques and short cuts that you simply cannot learn on your own.

What jobs have you worked within the food industry?

I write and develop recipes and content about food. I’ve never worked in a restaurant and I’m not a caterer. I do a lot of food events and cook for some of them but like Rachael Ray and Ree Drummond, I am a home cook.

What’s the most unusual thing that’s ever happened to you on the job?

During a live cooking demonstration, all of my equipment and food was hidden from me. That was fun.

Who is the most notable person you’ve ever cooked for?

Chef Bobby Flay.

If you could cook for with any celebrity of historical figure (living or dead), who would it be?

I don’t know, probably Oprah. She’s Southern and likes food as much as I do. She’s had some of the best Southern chefs in the world cook for her, so I’d like to see how my biscuits or fried chicken rate against theirs.

What’s your favorite Alabama Gulf Seafood dish to serve up for yourself and your family?

For week nights, I like making fish in parchment and I will usually cook Grouper or Snapper with lemon, onion, rosemary, thyme, and a bit of white wine. It is fast and delicious. For special occasions, I like making Citrus Pickled Shrimp. It is easy to make a ton of it and you can make it in advance—which works well for parties.

What makes Alabama Gulf Seafood special?

Our Gulf seafood is the best in the world, and there is such a wide variety of seafood available all year round. The Gulf is just down the road so you can get fresh- almost right out of the water –seafood no matter where you live in Alabama. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about how we harvest our seafood and the difference between Gulf seafood and imported seafood. I’ve also learned about how we control fishing to protect our resources. I’ve met a lot of people in the industry and I want to support them as they fight to compete in a marketplace flooded with cheap, inferior quality imports.

What are your professional goals?

I am starting a few new projects in 2017. Stay tuned!