Meet Brian "Mac" McDonald: Taking On The Culinary Challenge

Updated: Jan 3

Mac entered Chattanooga's cooking scene looking for a challenge, and is now on his way to becoming one of the cities culinary superstars!

Cooking has become an integral part of culture everywhere and through a small but growing culinary art scene, it is making its way into Chattanooga. One of the frontrunners of this food movement is local chef Brian “Mac” McDonald. Mac did not go into his adult life with the goal of becoming one of Chattanooga’s greatest cooks. Instead, he originally pursued careers in photography and IT work. He became bored with this though and started seeking a challenge. He found it in cooking. What originally drew Mac to take on food as a new pathway was that to him cooking really isn’t that different from other more straightforward skills like photography and IT work. There is always a set way that certain things must be cooked, but there is also a lot of room for the creator to go wild and make whatever they feel like.

“I can be as creative as I want to be with different ingredients, techniques, and flavors, all the while pushing and pulling from set flavors and traditional dishes,” Mac said.

Mac’s specialties are Southern American meals, which shouldn’t surprise anyone considering where we are. Before living in Chattanooga though, Mac grew up in the huge melting pot that is Boston and through that city was exposed to all different kinds of cuisine. While Mac loves to experiment with flavors all over the globe, he always tries to “bring his dishes home” and give them a southern spin. His favorite dishes to make are ones that involve brining, in particular, brined meat dishes. To quote him, “you can’t go wrong with a brined pork tenderloin”. Barbecue also holds a special place in Mac’s heart and he is not afraid to brag about his smoked brisket.

When it comes to Chattanooga, Mac thinks that the food scene here is rather young. Many cities like Chattanooga have dishes that are uniquely theirs, but Chattanooga really doesn’t’ have anything like that. People like Mac are working to turn this around though by encouraging growth in our local culinary scene. He has seen an explosion in variety over the past few years and thinks that we will see a surge in creativity in the city as chefs continue to connect and learn from each other. The next step he sees is a trend towards the ‘fast-fine dining’ style in local restaurants and a focus on higher quality and diversity. As for his own goals, Mac hopes to continue to impact the community by creating great dishes and encouraging others to get involved in the local food scene. You can go follow Mac on Instagram with the handle

@mac_cookz

to see more of his incredible dishes!

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