Stacy Cogswell’s New Beginning at Liquid Art House

The Top Chef contestant talks reality TV, working under Rachel Klein, and her motivation behind leaving The Regal Beagle.

stacy cogswell

Stacy Cogswell (in red) at Liquid Art House. Photo via Liquid Art House/Facebook

How long has your move over to Liquid Art House been in the works?

It’s been in the works for a couple weeks now. Not that long at all. I was introduced to Rachel [Klein] by a mutual friend and we both had the same passion and vision for food. So, it was just fun to chat as regular people, then to be given this opportunity.

What’s your new role going to be?

I’m going to be the sous chef there, but Rachel is giving me a lot of creative license. So, I’m going to be taking over the bar/lounge menu. It’s super fun. I did a cameo menu on New Year’s Eve that was pretty successful. That’s when she [Klein] decided, “Hey, you should do this!” It’s going to be globally inspired and sexy and completely inspired by the art around it. The menu will change monthly. The first show I’m working on now because I don’t start until next week. I took some time off to decompress because, as you know, the last couple months have been a shit-show. I’ve never had so much going on in my life before.

What’s the first art show you’re going to base your bar menu around?

It’s called “Berlin Walled,” which is inspired by the fringe Berlin art scene. I’m going to composing my debut menu around that with Rachel. It’s going to be super cool! The food will be edgy, way more so than what I’ve been able to do in the past.

When does that menu go into effect?

That show starts in a month. In the meantime I’m going to go in there and find my bearings in the kitchen. It’s very different than where I’ve been. The kitchen is just so huge and beautiful. Also, it’s out there. It’s in the middle of the dining room, which is something I’m not quite used to. I’m used to being way behind the scenes. I was there for New Year’s and it was so much fun to be able to get back into the art of what I do.

Did you feel like, creatively, you had run your course at The Regal Beagle?

Not necessarily, but I was certainly ready for a new challenge and I do think that doing the show [Top Chef] pushed me there. It made me want to elevate my food. The Regal Beagle is a great restaurant, but it’s a neighborhood restaurant, so you have to keep things extremely rustic and simplified. Whereas Liquid Art House, the name says it all, it’s about the art. It’s so cool to be surrounded by this beautiful art. Just working there on New Year’s, I was overwhelmed. It’s just a very different restaurant.

Maybe I’m looking too far into this, but did you ever create dishes at the Beagle that inspired some blowback from you customers?

Yeah, yeah. There were things that were way too out there. Most of those things I would run as specials and they would never sell. It was just the wrong venue to do that type of food, and that’s what I really wanted to get back into.

Beyond the bar menu, do you see yourself collaborating with Rachel on the regular dining menu as well?

Rachel’s really amazing. She’s really about pushing everyone to create specials and be extremely creative. So, there’s definitely the opportunity.

For so long now, you’ve been running the show at Regal Beagle. Do you think it’ll be difficult to give up some of that control or are you looking forward to a more collaborative environment? 

The one thing you have to remember as a chef is that you don’t know everything. There’s always going to be someone out there who knows something you don’t know and vice versa. That’s what is so exciting about this opportunity. I think a lot of people lose that, to be able to step back and say, “Oh my god, that’s so exciting! That’s something I’ve never tried. Could you show me how to this or that technique.” Working with Rachel—who is so incredibly talented—is a chance for me to keep growing as a chef.

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