Chef Spotlight: Brigitte Bledsoe

Since she was young, Corporate Executive Chef Brigitte Bledsoe has been surrounded by food. A Baltimore native, Bledsoe grew up with a love for classic southern dishes and everything Maryland.

Her career with Miss Shirley’s Café began in 2005 after reading an ad calling for the “Best Breakfast Chef in the World.” Even while on crutches, she was able to prepare her Crab Cake and Fried Green Tomato Eggs Benedict and Coconut Cream-Stuffed French Toast, which were two of the original menu items offered when Miss Shirley’s Café first opened on Cold Spring Lane in 2005.

Having been noted by Baltimore magazine, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Food Network Magazine, Bledsoe uses her love of fresh Maryland ingredients to bring a new and exciting twist to traditional brunch items. Winning guests over with creative and delicious dishes, she has helped make Miss Shirley’s Café a Baltimore landmark.

Get to Know Chef Bledsoe

Culinary contributor Amy Langrehr sat down with Chef Bledsoe to chat about food, family and what’s great about Baltimore.

Lots of kids get to choose the meal on their birthday – anything they want…to a point, I suppose. What would be your “birthday meal” now? What did you ask for when you were a kid?
BB: Crabs! And rainbow cake from Graul's. Always. This year, my birthday coincided with the 10-year anniversary party for Miss Shirley's. We didn't have rainbow cake when we got home, and I pitched a fit. Little did I know, the next night we were having crabs and rainbow cake.

Do you have a mentor? Any chefs who really helped you find your way?
BB: Eddie Dopkin, obviously. I learned so much about running a restaurant from him. He was also very creative in the back of the house. We were just in sync. And, Cindy Wolf. She's still one of my favorite chefs. The fact that she has been so successful is definitely inspiring to me and other female chefs for sure.

What food trend can you absolutely not stand?
BB: Kale. When Panera has it, it's officially over. I'm into power greens for sure, but kale is overdone to me. Also, wraps. When our management team meets, everyone has to submit new menu ideas. Someone always suggests a wrap and I just can't do it. [I agree, chef!]

How do you balance home and work?
BB: Well, I've had two surgeries this year, so it's been a little different than usual. I usually try to have Monday and Tuesday off, but even when I do that, I work from home doing scheduling, orders, paperwork, etc. I'm pretty much on call 24/7. I do work a lot, but I try to be at home most nights. It's nice working at a place that doesn't serve dinner.

Do you have time to watch any food TV?
BB:Not too much, but I do watch “Top Chef.” That's one that I really find to be interesting and fun.

What do you love about Baltimore?
BB: The sense of community here. I love the Smalltimore thing. If you were born and raised here, you are constantly running into people you know. I love that. Sitting at a bar, the person sitting next to you always knows someone you know. I also love the neighborhoods, every place from Hampden to Fell's Point and up to Towson where I live now, I love it. Baltimore is a great place. People are friendly here – they look you in the eye and say hello.

What do you like about food? How about the food at your place?
BB: Breakfast and lunch are great. And doing only those two definitely makes you stretch and be more creative. I love doing savory and sweet together. Like, we do a pancake of the month and recently it was pulled pork, smoked bacon, cheddar, BBQ sauce, fried pickles, jalapeño peppadew butter. It was so good! Food just makes people happy.

Best food memory?
BB: My mom and I took a trip once and we were in Paris and Burgundy for two weeks. We attended a cooking school in a chateau – La Varenne. We cooked, of course, but also traveled all over France and visited Michelin restaurants, vineyards; and it was the trip of a lifetime for sure. It was amazing.

What are some of your favorite restaurants in the city?
BB: OK, here are my top three: Charleston. Yes, it's expensive but I'm totally drawn to it. I'd honestly rather go there every once in a while and skip other meals out for a while. Then, I'd say Thames Street Oyster House. Love it. And, Hamilton Tavern is my “go to” burger place. Oh, well, I need to add one more. I love going to Wit & Wisdom and sitting out on the patio, listening to the music at Pier Six. That's a really great place.

OK, obligatory question – when you cook at home, what do you like to make? Do you have a favorite “go to” meal at home?
BB: No matter the weather, I'm cooking out on my grill. Snow, rain, whatever, I'm grilling meat, fish, vegetables, everything! There's almost always something marinating my fridge. Recently, I made flank steak in Bloody Mary mix with Old Bay vodka. [Oh, I want to make that, Chef!]

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