Commander’s Palace Welcomes First Female Head Chef in Its 127-Year History
After 18 years at the helm of the New Orleans institution, Chef Tory McPhail is moving on.
Commander’s Palace is saying goodbye to longtime executive chef Tory McPhail, and, for the first time in the famous restaurant’s long history, his successor is a woman.
This week, the iconic New Orleans establishment announced Megan “Meg” Bickford as its new executive chef. Bickford, 34, started at Commander’s Palace in 2008 and worked her way up the ranks. She previously served as the restaurant’s executive sous chef.
McPhail is reportedly trading in his Commander’s toque to move to Bozeman, Montana, where he will be leading the culinary career development for a restaurant group there.
“Walking into Commander's Palace every day as the chef has been an honor,” McPhail said in a news release. “I have had the pleasure to work with the family on and off for 25 years, serving as Executive Chef for almost 19 years, and it has been my greatest work. I am leaving Commander’s Palace in the very able hands of the family and Chef Meg. I have worked side by side with Chef Meg for over 12 years and she has been eager and hungry for a long time now. I couldn’t be prouder of her and I look forward to seeing her stamp on the legendary restaurant as it continues to evolve.”
Chef Meg comes from a family with a father from New Orleans and a mother from “down the Bayou” in Larose, so both Cajun and Creole influences run in her blood.
“Naming Chef Meg as our Executive Chef is a proud moment for us,” Commander’s Co-Proprietors Ti Martin and Lally Brennan said in a release. “Meg has always been a spitfire in the kitchen, a ball of energy with eyes darting about, seeing and learning everything. She is small but mighty and has the complete respect of our entire kitchen and restaurant. There is a sparkle in her eye and magic in those hands. We thank Chef Tory for his time and for leaving us in the very good hands of Chef Meg.”
WATCH: Take A 360˚ Tour Of Commander's Palace
Bickford, a mother to three-year-old Stella, said she is looking forward to “diving deeper into all the influences” on Creole cuisine.
“For me, the future seems hidden in the past, she shared. “Studying New Orleans and Louisiana cooking inspires me to see where the past can intersect with the future. The possibilities seem endless.”
Congratulations, Chef Meg!