Get to Know Guy's Grocery Games Judge Beau MacMillan
Who's won Iron Chef America against Bobby Flay? Beau MacMillan has, in Battle Kobe Beef. Beau's also served as coach on Season 1 of Worst Cooks in America. Currently the proud New Englander is the executive chef for Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, a resort in Arizona. He's also a regular judge on Guy's Grocery Games, and has even competed in the All-Stars series, winning his episode.
Get to know this Triple G judge, and tune in to watch Beau on Guy's Grocery Games on Sundays at 8|7c.
Do you prefer shopping in a small market or in a supermarket?
Beau MacMillan: You know, I like both types of markets when I shop. Usually, I'm shopping for specific items and I know which stores hold the best. But I think that the big, larger supermarkets now have really stepped up the game and understand quality and local-driven products, and you can find pretty much everything you're looking for.
Do you prefer self-checkout, online ordering or a real person?
BM: I'm a real-person guy. Self-checkout — I haven't graduated to that yet. And online, you know, I mean I'm just uncomfortable. I want some personalization there. I want to be able to see my product, and I want to be able to talk to somebody.
Is there one thing you can't leave a grocery store without?
BM: Every time I seem to go, there are a couple [of] things that are always essential. A great extra virgin olive oil is a necessity. You've got to have a killer sea salt and garlic, ginger — anything super fragrant like that is a base for most of my cooking.
What's the one thing you love/hate most about grocery shopping?
BM: The one thing I love most about grocery shopping (honestly) is for me, I have three young children, so this is the one time I get to go, and usually I'm spending some time there. I bring my kids shopping. I love going and picking out items and including them and spending that time in the grocery store where you don't really have to think, you kind of just have to gather, and half of my cooking style really is inspired by what's available.
Give me five ingredients or less in coming up with your best dish.
BM: I've mentioned a few of the staples. Extra virgin olive oil. You've got to have a great sea salt of some sort. I'm a big garlic guy or a big ginger guy, but, you know, give me a great protein, or a great seafood — whatever it is. You can usually do great things with very little products. Let's take pasta, for example. You've got a great pasta, you got a great sauce, and you've got a great combination together. Some great Pecorino Romano and you're good to go.
BM: I've got to tell you, I think Bag Swap or Cart Swap … is just amazing, because the beauty of being a chef is the ability, I think, to really adapt and overcome, and when you've set your mind to something, chefs commit to that — they have an understanding, direction, they are in control, they know. You take that element out of their hands and then it's all about human emotion and organic and basically training, and they've got to do something completely different, and you see sometimes amazing things come out of that.
BM: First food memory, for me … wow, it goes, I think, all the way back to Maine when I was a little kid. I remember going about three hours north of where I lived, into the sticks, and we'd pick blueberries for about two and a half hours and got the fattest and sweetest Maine blueberries. [We] came back to the house and made this amazing blueberry ice cream on this outside wooden ice cream maker with, like, salt and ice, and it came together and has always stuck in my head as one of the best things I've ever had in my life.
BM: It's funny. A lot of chefs can go with different things, high-end things and stuff. I'm a fanatic. I'm a lover of, like, great cheeses. I don't know what it is, but, like, cheese boards or charcuterie boards, something about them … It's like I've got to have it (cheese especially). I think nothing is better than a great room-temperature cheese [and a] bottle of wine.
BM: It's really, really simple. My last supper would probably … have some incredibly delicious freshly baked French baguettes. Give me some awesome extra virgin olive oil. Let me have a little bit of Burrata cheese and some sea salt. And then, just to top it off, I want some white truffles thrown all over that and I'm go time. Send me to heaven!
What's the most-surprising or oddest thing we'd find in your fridge, food or otherwise?
BM: That's a good question. I'm pretty standard. I mean, right down the line. I have no answer for that. I have three kids; there's nothing odd. Oh, American cheese slices, to be honest with you. ...I've got this weird, freaky thing about American cheese — it's got to go on my burger. I don't care. I'm a cheese lover, but American cheese is where it's at with the burger.
Where do you see dining trends going? Do you have one you absolutely love or hate?
BM: I'm loving the fact that I think variety has become such the spice of life in restaurants. But the biggest thing for me that I love about dining now is the community aspect of it and passing and sharing and being able to get plates … that you can go out to dinner with six or seven people, order more small plates … and obviously passing and sharing and being able to open it up and get more, as opposed to committing to one $50 entree.
Quickfire (Name the first thing that comes to mind)
Favorite childhood dish: Dude, got to give it up for my mom. Shepherd's pie, kid. We were poor, that's what we ate. Mashed potatoes, instant style.
Favorite food city to eat in: My roots are in Beantown, but I've got to say Chicago is just a real man's eating town. Dude, I love that city.
Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving. I love what it's about. I grew up in Plymouth, Mass. Food is about giving and sharing and passing and sustenance and nutrition, and Thanksgiving, to me, is when you can sit with your loved ones and really take the time to appreciate and enjoy.
Favorite kitchen tool: Besides my Sharpie, it's my knife. I mean, I can't live without my knife.
Favorite sweet or dessert: I'm not a big dessert guy, but give me peanut butter on anything and I'm usually good to go.
Tune in to Guy's Grocery Games on Sundays at 8|7c.