Chef Megan Brent is Tasting Success!

A woman's culinary voyage of determination, talent, and vision.

The conversation between Chef Megan Brent and me began as most great conversations do.

"Tell me about yourself," I asked. "Tell me about your journey"

To be honest, I have watched Chef Megan Brent’s culinary career evolve over the last decade. From Baked Alaska to stroopwafels, I have marveled at her tenacity, raw talent, bold individualism, and sheer strength. She has baked some of the finest cakes and cookies imaginable, yet, she exerts an easy mastery over the savory palate. She is both art and artist, her canvas is the plate.

Meg shared with me that her culinary journey all began at the end of her sophomore year. At that time she didn’t have the most positive relationship with food. For Meg, at that point in her life, food was her enemy.

“After hitting rock bottom at 75 lbs and being severely malnourished, I began treatment for my eating disorder,” revealed Meg during our interview and photoshoot. Meg’s doctor had her begin a food journal and start cooking meals at home as a means to learn healthier coping strategies and help mend her broken relationship with food. “I developed a deep appreciation and adoration for food and food culture,” says Meg. “Through this exercise, I became mentally and physically healthier.”  Meg’s recovery journey fueled her passion and desire to become a chef and set her on the path of culinary greatness!  

Overcoming her eating disorder was just one of the hurdles that Meg faced in her pursuit of that culinary dream. “As a woman in this industry, it was obviously tough to be seen and heard,” says Meg. “I had to work more efficiently, learn faster, and become a more dynamic chef to get my seat at the table." Currently, Meg is fostering an environment of support and guidance by drawing on her life experiences, which help her to become a better listener and leader. Her desire for a role in the beer world and restaurant industry that promotes managerial support and guidance, employee support, structure, creativity, and inclusivity led her to the position of culinary director for Hop City’s Boxcar and Barley Garden Restaurants. It is her perfect playground.

Over the years, Meg began a deeper exploration of cooking with seasonality. She developed relationships with local farmers to source more sustainable ingredients. “Seasonality is important in many ways,” says Meg. “When produce is grown and harvested in the proper agricultural zones and time period, it has the best quality and flavor.” Both Boxcar and Barley Gardens institute a menu that revolves around the four seasons as much as possible. Produce from local agribusinesses such as Tucker Farms or Zoe George Farms not only graces the menus at Barley Gardens and Boxcar, but has also acted as inspiration for Meg’s culinary genius - literally feeding her need for creativity and development.

Meg’s family loves it when she does recipe testing at home and they get to be the guinea pigs, but she does try to keep a good work-life balance. “I will say it’s incredibly tough in this industry. I am one of those people who tends to overdo it and go all in with anything I do.” Family is paramount and her family certainly helps her stay grounded in the hustle and bustle of the restaurant industry. More time at home fuels Meg’s creativity. It has helped her become a better functioning leader for the staff and it also empowers her to ensure everyone has time for their life. “I’m proud that I work for a company that promotes a healthy work-life balance as a priority in the workplace," says Meg. With a resoundingly positive attitude, it is no wonder that her mantra of “One Team. One Dream. Everyone is heard” has helped to pave the way for her success!

When not working, Meg can be found cycling on the Silver Comet Trail with her boyfriend, thrift store shopping, or binge-watching the original Star Trek TV series while enjoying a Freigeist Bierkultur’s Geisterburg Rhubarb Gose brewed with spruce needles. When time permits, Meg does love to cook at home. “My boyfriend loves fish, so usually I do an herb-crusted grouper with fresh vegetables from our garden.” 

Whether enjoying the Barley Garden’s signature Firebird Sandwich or dining on the braised short rib at Boxcar, you can certainly taste Meg’s passion for food and flavor. Meg Brent’s star is continuing to rise over the Atlanta culinary scene and I am very much looking forward to tasting the next decade of my friend’s illustrious career.

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