Meet Chef Johnny McCabeAugust 1st, 2017 by Roundabout Catering
One of the newest chefs to the Roundabout family is Johnny McCabe, Chef de Cuisine at Roundabout Catering. Johnny came from chez louie located inside the Nevada Museum of Art. We sat down with Johnny to get to know him a bit better. Read about Johnny’s influences, his flair for French cuisine and some of his goals at Roundabout.
Who inspired you most in the kitchen?
When I was 10 years old, I was home watching PBS when Julia Child’s “The French Chef” came on. I remember thinking “well, I’ve never seen anything like this before.” She was loud, funny, smart and was cooking on TV! It was an episode on omelets, French high-heat omelets, to be precise. I was glued to the set. When it was over, I thought “I can do that.’ Having never attempted a single thing in the kitchen, I called my mother at work and told her to bring home a dozen eggs. That night, with my parents watching closely from behind (hiding their fears quite well) I proceeded to turn out three perfect, high-heat omelets. I was hooked and knew that one day, I would be a chef.
What do you love to cook?
Julia Child led me down the path in discovering my passion for French cuisine. I was obsessed. I loved learning about French chefs, reading French cookbooks and even more so, eating it. It is, hands-down, my favorite cuisine to cook. Slow-braised meats are another favorite. Proteins like beef short rib and pork belly lend themselves so well to a slow braise. In 2016, I took home a blue ribbon for a crispy, slow-braised pork belly with chocolate-raspberry balsamic glaze.
What are some of your goals with Roundabout?
This is a complete 180 from being a restaurant chef. I was ready to lend my skills somewhere new, and I knew Colin Smith would be my first call. I’m trying to bring a fresh palette and different stylistic touch to Roundabout. Everything we do here is already to top-notch – I didn’t come to change things – but to incorporate my style. I also hope to bring an even tighter sense of family to our incredible staff. Everyone here is truly a family member.
How did you get into the business?
After training at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA, I began my private chef company “l’Experience Culinaire” which took off immediately. It was 2002, and private chefing was a new, relatively untapped market in Lake Tahoe. I also began working with Mark Estee of Moody’s in Truckee for his catering department, doing both large events and private chefing in people’s homes. I credit Estee for helping me become the chef I am today.
What was it like cooking for celebrities in Tahoe?
After the initial shock of showing up at a lakefront mansion and being greeted at the door by “the lil red rocker,” Sammy Hagar, I was able to slide into that role quite easily. Cooking for NFL players, golf pros, corporate CEOs and celebrities can be a daunting thought a first, be they love food just like all of us and always made me feel at home with them and their guests. It is always a truly rewarding experience.
How has the culinary world changed since you first started?
When I started, the notion of “farm to table” only existed at a few restaurants in the country. It was local, pioneer chefs with an idea to make it work that changed the restaurant world forever.
Need a little help with catering and party rentals? Give Roundabout Catering & Party Rentals a call at 775-851-2091. Located in Sparks, Nev., Roundabout Catering & Party Rentals serves Reno, Tahoe and surrounding areas.