For the third installment of our Chef Series, I am so excited to introduce the charming Marlon Alexander, a personal chef who has worked for some of the biggest names in show biz including Kiss, Rod Stewart and Christina Aguilera. I first met Marlon at a charity event, where a private dinner catered by him was auctioned off for a cool $14,000 (by the way, two of those dinners sold that night). Between his charisma, fascinating stories of the rich and famous, and delicious food, it’s easy to see why.
Growing up, Marlon had not always planned on becoming a chef. After earning his degree in Political Science and Communications, Marlon took a corporate job but hated it. One day he walked out and found himself in a restaurant down the street. By the end of that meal, Marlon was offered a job and the rest is history. Stints in a variety of restaurants and hotels followed, as well as a degree from Le Cordon Bleu.
Shortly thereafter Marlon was snatched up by the billionaire owner of a Kuwaiti conglomerate, who, upon tasting his risotto, offered Marlon the chance to travel the world and cook for him along the way.
After two years of that, Marlon returned to LA where he had various celebrity clients: Will and Jada Smith, touring with Kiss for four years, Christina Aguilera, and Rod Stewart. Most recently, Marlon has worked with a billionaire finance executive in Fairfield County.
Where were you cooking when on the road with bands?
I would set up a kitchen in the arenas. I brought all the equipment with me and shopped locally for supplies. In some places, like Argentina, there were 100-year-old theaters with no plumbing and holes in the wall. I would have to get creative but always managed to get delicious food on the table for the band. It was challenging but so fun. In those days, Kiss was traveling the world, playing the biggest venues and partying non-stop – and I was right in the thick of it.
What were the meals like?
I only cooked for the artists and their families or guests, so it would usually be a handful of people. Usually the meal was buffet-style to accommodate different tastes: two proteins, three sides, starch and salads.
What is it people like about you and your cooking?
The food is important but with a private chef it’s more about how you get along with people. I’ve seen someone get fired because they made a guy feel uncomfortable. Good energy is important.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I focus on healthy, spa-style cuisine with French and Californian influences. Certain clients would request things like Southern food (Will Smith) but I would make healthier versions. I helped Christina lose a lot of weight during the year I worked for her! I’ve also gotten very creative and skilled at accommodating gluten- and dairy-free diets. My current client will swear there’s cream in a dish that I’ve made for his dairy-free wife – but there never is!
What’s your favorite meal to cook?
I love Osso Bucco! I make it with white wine and poached pears or apples that give it a sweet touch, then serve it with sage polenta. Delicious.
What’s your favorite restaurant and dish to order?
It may be cliché, but I’m always on the hunt for the perfect cheeseburger. I love my burgers with blue cheese, bacon and caramelized onions. The best burger I’ve had in Connecticut is at The Cottage.
What’s your favorite way to use butter?
There are so many different ways, which is what makes it such a great ingredient. I use it most in pasta and risotto, and of course for the pan-frying the perfect steak. I think butter is also a great way to finish off sauces. There really are infinite possibilities with such a versatile ingredient.
What’s your favorite compound butter you’ve ever tried?
I’m going to go old school here. There’s a beer cheddar cheese butter at The Charterhouse, an old-school steakhouse back home in California. They put that butter on everything and it’s amazing.
If you could pick any chef to cook with, who would it be?
Alice Waters. I love that her food is so simple and healthy. She has a farm in Napa that produces such delicious, high quality ingredients. With ingredients like that, you can cook so simply and it always turns out great.
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What an honor to be featured in The New York Times! We are so proud to have gotten a stamp of approval from Florence Fabricant, food critic of the NYT.