Ben McPherson has been up and down the Gulf Coast, from Pensacola to Houston. As a kid, he faced down the challenge of moving from Alabama to Germany and back again, being bullied for his accent in two different countries. As we discussed in Part 1 yesterday, after spending some time as a troubled youth, kitchen life chose him and set him back on a positive path.
As you'll see in part 2 of our chef chat, his biggest challenge was still yet to come. As chef du cuisine, he'd face the devastating effects of a manmade disaster on the beautiful coastal restaurant that he worked for, as well as on other restaurants and businesses for miles around.
Today, McPherson is in a much happier spot as the executive chef at Prohibition Supperclub. There, his love for Gulf Coast cuisine is at the forefront. It's a good match for the elegant atmosphere. He's also found a creative work partnership and kinship with chef Matt Wommack, who joined him in the kitchen at Prohibition.
BM: I wasn't happy [in Atlanta] and wanted to move. I moved to Pensacola Beach, Florida where a big seafood restaurant [The Grand Marlin] was being built. It was gorgeous--a $10-million buildout. It had its own harbor. We had a temperature controlled meat-cutting room and opened with a staff of 110. I was chef du cuisine. I got to town a week before they opened the restaurant and they'd already been training two months before I got there. The whole staff goes, "Wait, who's this guy?" They automatically didn't like me.