Meet the 15-year-old chef

Some kids like to help their parents in the kitchen, but Flynn McGarry takes it a step further. McGarry has been cooking since he was 10 years old, teaching himself the basics from cookbooks and the internet. At the tender age of 11 1/2, he began hosting a supper club, where chefs and celebrities now pay $160 per person to eat what McGarry calls "progressive American cuisine."

A recent meal, described in the The New York Times Magazine article linked above, contained creative courses like ember-roasted carrot gelee with smoked egg yolk served alongside compressed mango, pickled mustard seeds and coffee-pickled carrots. Another menu item was Beet Wellington (no, that's not a typo) made with roasted beets and a mushroom duxelle wrapped in puff pastry and served with creamed sorrel and a beet bordelaise sauce.  It's enough to give someone who's been cooking for years an inferiority complex.

Parents often indulge their kids' obsessions by buying chemistry sets or sports equipment, but McGarry's parents easily topped that. They built a kitchen in his bedroom to resemble the one at Alinea  in Chicago. As you might expect, his parents aren't a traditional 9-to-5 suburban couple; McGarry's mother is a former NBC executive and his father is a professional photographer.

While there's a lot of attention being paid to McGarry's age, cooking has long been a craft started young. European restaurants frequently take on apprentices who are 15 to 16 years old. But instead of toiling away peeling carrots while waiting for his turn to move up, McGarry, who is homeschooled, spends over 160 hours per month cooking in his family's home near San Francisco.

Whether McGarry will fulfill his dream of opening a Michelin-starred restaurant remains to be seen. He's turned down a few reality TV show offers, but a book and a possible travel series are in the works. Perhaps EYB will soon have a cookbook authored by McGarry to index. What do you think of this chef prodigy?

4 Comments

  • VickiB  on  4/7/2014 at 10:29 AM

    Amazing! And a kudos for his supportive parents.

  • Rinshin  on  4/7/2014 at 10:47 AM

    I think this is great. Love to try his food. My nephew has been interested in cooking since he was also around 10 and does all the cooking for my brother's family. But, next year he will be leaving for college so no more cooking like he has been doing.

  • Rinshin  on  4/7/2014 at 10:47 AM

    I think this is great. Love to try his food. My nephew has been interested in cooking since he was also around 10 and does all the cooking for my brother's family. But, next year he will be leaving for college so no more cooking like he has been doing.

  • Jane  on  4/7/2014 at 12:47 PM

    I had read the article and I thought he was great. He seemed to have a genuine passion for cooking and the support and training he has been given by experienced chefs shows that he is being taken seriously in the industry. My only slight worry was that his life seems a bit one-dimensional at such a young age. But then you could say that about any virtuoso, and also of the chef apprentices in France.

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