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We Welcome Maggie Davidson, Our New Chef

by Cory Marie Podielski on June 23, 2016

in Around Campus, Cooking, Folk School Folks, Interview, New & Noteworthy

There's a new Folk School chef in town, and she's shaking up our menu in a delightful and delicious way.

There’s a new Folk School chef in town, and she’s enhancing our menu in a delightful and delicious way.

We are excited to have world-class chef Maggie Davidson join our team. Maggie studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, specializing in pastry and baking (lucky us!). Before arriving at the Folk School, Maggie worked at prestigious restaurants and hotels throughout the country. She is also an avid fiber artist. We are happy to welcome Maggie to the Folk School Community, and look forward to savoring her culinary creations.

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Maggie Davidson in the Folk School Herb Garden

CP: Where are you from? Tell me a little about yourself.

MD: I’m from Tucson, Arizona. I’ve lived lots of places, but kept coming back to Tucson, until 1998, when I started to move around the country to build my resume as a chef.

CP: Did you always want to be a chef? What made you want to pursue a career in cuisine?

MD: My heroine has always been Julia Child, from her old shows on PBS when I was growing up. I began baking when I was 9 in 4-H, but my parents were too intellectual to encourage that as a career. I majored in English, but worked in kitchens to pay for school. After school, I became a manager at an outdoor store, did that for 13 years, and realized I wanted a different career. I sold my house, cashed in my savings, and moved to Paris to go to Le Cordon Bleu. I studied pastry, not cuisine, and worked as a pastry chef for most of my career so far.

CP: What drew you to the Folk School? Had you been here previously?

MD: I have wanted to take a class here for a long time. Two years ago, a friend and I came to the Fall Festival, and we loved it. The school, the setting, the people here, I loved it all.

CP: Do have any specialties? Describe your cooking style.

MD: Pastry is my specialty, all baking and pastry, really. My cooking style is to make the food as appealing to the eye as the palate, and to use as much fresh, local ingredients as possible. I hope to become more involved in the Folk School Garden, to work with Joe Baumgartner (the Folk School Head Gardener) to use as much of what we grow all year.

product_3637_1CP: What’s your favorite tool in the kitchen?

MD: A plastic dough scraper called a Racle Tout. It scrapes messes away, cuts dough, cleans bowls. I love it.

CP: What is your favorite spice or flavor?

MD: Hmmm… I don’t know if I have one! I like almost everything! The only thing I absolutely will not eat is lima beans.

CP: Who is your cooking guru/hero? What or who inspires you?

MD: Well, Julia, of course, but lots of people inspire me. Liz Pruitt of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, Pierre Herme of Paris, Michael Laskonis in New York, who’s teaching himself to process chocolate from the plant to the finished dessert. I like Anthony Bordain’s fearlessness in eating everything at least once. And my son, who is a chef in Nashville. Anytime I need an opinion on a menu or recipe, he is all too willing to give me his!

The Cronut!

The Cronut by Dominique Ansel

CP: Can you tell me about a career highlight gig? Or a dream dish/situation/meal?

MD: I worked for 9 years at Blackberry Farm, and always had famous chefs come to the hotel to cook for the guests. Once, Daniel Boulud, owner and chef of Daniel, Café DB and other restaurants came with his pastry chef, Dominique Ansel. Dominique was young, but already making a name for himself. He was so fun to work with, involving my whole staff in making his amazing dessert, and making sure the diners knew we helped, which was unusual for such a high profile chef. And now, he’s the inventor of the Cronut, which is the most coveted dessert in New York. His bakery is Dominique Ansel Bakery, in New York and in Tokyo.It’s fun to say I knew him when, and he’s a nice guy!

Not only is Maggie a fantastic chef, she is an accomplished fiber artist. Check out this beautiful woven "Lee's Surrender" blanket.

Not only is Maggie a fantastic chef, she is an accomplished fiber artist. Check out her beautiful woven “Lee’s Surrender” blanket.

Maggie gathers lavender in the Folk School Herb Garden

Maggie gathers lavender in the Folk School Herb Garden

CP: What type of classes would you be interested in taking at the Folk School?

MD: Ah, too many to mention! Tapestry, furniture making, spinning, dyeing, glass blowing, painting… lots!

CP: Are you going to teach any Cooking classes at the Folk School?

MD: I’ve been asked to think about what I’d like to teach. I can teach any aspect of pastry or baking. I’ve been teaching classes like that for many years.

I’m also an avid fiber artist, I’d love to teach something in that genre too!

Give a warm Folk School welcome to Maggie next time you are in the Dinging Hall!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike McLain August 6, 2016 at 2:19 pm

I am scheduled to come to JCCFS for a week tomorrow. Welcome, Maggie, but it sounds like I am in for a weight gain this week! I will probably have to hit the hiking trails after supper.

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Margaret Radcliffe July 14, 2016 at 1:51 pm

From one Maggie to another, welcome to the Folk School! I look forward to sampling your meals when I’m teaching my dyeing and knitting class next March. Please stop by my studio! And, I hope you’ve got some gluten free pastries up your sleeve, for those of us who can’t eat wheat.

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Elaine from weaving July 2, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Food and Weaving – what could be better?

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Tara Rose June 29, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Maggie is a very creative chef and always striving to reach new heights, food is wonderful stop by and try it, I promise you will leave full and happily satisfied, presentation is a must and she nails it everytime, along with the flavor to satisfy the pallet:)

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Robin Neiheisel June 27, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Alright!!!! More great food at the Folk School!

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Emily Buehler June 24, 2016 at 10:41 am

This makes me eager for my next visit to the Folk School!

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Jan Stansell June 23, 2016 at 8:35 pm

Welcome, Maggie. I look forward to meeting you and enjoying your creations.

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Paula Basher June 23, 2016 at 5:26 pm

So excited to have a fresh chef on the kitchen. For years I have stayed away from the meal plan when attending because the food was too institutional. Looking forward to seeing what you bring to the table. Congratulations.

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