At the age of 14 you may expect burger and chips or pizza to be on the menu, but a teenage chef has wowed the food world so much with his experimental fine dining that he has been taken on by a top Beverly Hills restaurant.
Child prodigy Flynn McGarry has cooked for more than 120 people, run a pop-up restaurant with an 18-course tasting menu and impressed critics and diners over his three year career which began at the tender age of 11.
And next week the San Fernando Valley schoolboy will head the kitchen at Beverly Hills’ BierBeisl restaurant with a 12-course meal for 40 people charging $160 a head.
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It has already sold-out.
‘The chef at BierBeisl is super nice and said, ‘Whatever you need, I’ll help you cook,’’ McGarry told ABCNews. ‘I am going into this a lot more confident than other dinners. I started working on this [Thursday], running around town getting supplies. It is a week process, which people don’t really realize.’
McGarry’s signature food is described as ‘progressive American’ and offers experimental fine dining.
Dishes on offer on Wednesday will include a sunchoke confit with dehydrated grapefruit followed by smoked sturgeon and beef with wild mushrooms, celery root, black vinegar and coffee.
Rather cheekily the teenager says he was inspired to take to the kitchen because he didn’t like the food his mother, Meg McGarry, cooked.
Thankfully she didn’t take offense and bought her son cookbooks and showed him internet recipes to see if he could do any better.
And it turns out he could.
‘It was after looking at all these cookbooks and going on the Internet and looking at these dishes that I thought, ‘I could achieve that one day,” McGarry told the website.
‘I thought, every time I try it, I hope to keep getting better and better. I just fell in love with it.’
‘My mom didn’t really like cooking, and when she did cook I didn’t really like her food. And I was watching something on the Food Network, and I thought, ‘I could do this”.
‘I went to the bookstore and I looked for the thickest, biggest cookbook. And I found ‘The French Laundry’ by Thomas Keller.
“I’ve always been very creative, and I wanted to create my own dishes, and I didn’t know too much about it – but I would do variations from ‘French Laundry’ and other cookbooks and would cook them for my family.’
‘Then, I started liking the creative part of it, and I started to cook for more people then just my family.’
The mother and son duo decided to test his skills with the public and launched Eureka – a supper club that hosts monthly dinner parties inside their home.
Mrs McGarry now describes herself as: ‘general manager and reluctant dishwasher’.
They even built a test kitchen in the teenager’s bedroom so he could reach all the utensils he needs.
‘It started off as two tables with some gas burners, my desk and my bed,’ he explained.
‘But the problem was that I need more space for more things, so I downsized my bed, got rid of my desk. And I was living in there for like a year, and I would sleep on my bed, pop it up, do my schoolwork at my work space table.’
‘It was difficult because I was 13 and pretty much living and sleeping, and then the rest of the time it was a kitchen. And when my sister went to college I moved down to her room. Then we went full out with the kitchen.’
Now the room has induction burners, a 10 foot plating area and four cooking stations.
His pop-up club costs $150 per head but the family insist it was never a money making project.
‘It is not a moneymaking thing. We lowered the prices and we are doing more food and more expensive ingredients. We are thinking of it as a fun night,’ he said.
McGarry is still in education but is taught via Laurel Springs’ online private school which means he can organize lessons around his cooking.
McGarry’s mother says they backed her son in his ambition because he exhibited such early passion for cooking.
‘He is progressing so fast and it is super overwhelming, but it is also exciting,’ she told ABC. ‘You are always proud of your children’s accomplishments. He showed such passion for this that it was an obvious choice to allow him to do what he loves to do.’