Northern Brooklyn

Maux Morgan connects her Jamaican roots to the flavors of Southeast Asia

February 22, 2024 Alice Gilbert 
Maux Morgan
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Maux Morgan is relatively new to the kitchen at Lore, but she is no stranger to the workings of a professional cooking environment. A caretaker in every sense of the word, Chef Maux just might have the magic touch when it comes to feeding body and soul. 

Tell me a bit about yourself and how you ended up cooking at Lore. 

I’ve been cooking for about ten years, and I did most of those years in Boston. I moved to New York a year and a half ago, and I started working at Lore three or four months ago. I saw them on Indeed and on Craigslist, and I sent out my resume, and he didn’t respond for about three weeks, but I knew I wanted to work here. So, I kind of insisted on it. I sent two follow-up emails, and he finally responded and was like, “Hey, come in,” and we ended up having an interview that lasted about an hour and twenty minutes, where we literally just talked. It was one of the longest interviews I’ve ever had. It was a really great conversation, and a lot was said that I wanted and needed to hear.

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How did you know you wanted to work there?

I’m really big on non-physical energies. So, when I saw the post and the way he worded what he was looking for in a leader and a chef, it felt spot on to the person that I was looking to be in a restaurant. And looking at the menu, the food and the size of the place, I felt really confident that it was the kind of place that I could not only thrive in but grow in as well. The food just looked really good, and, again, the way we talked to each other for an hour and a half that all sold it for me.

What got you interested in cooking in the first place?

I am a Jamaican woman, born and raised. Unfortunately, but fortunately for me, I think misogyny is what forced me into the kitchen. My grandmother insisted that all the girls had to be in the kitchen with her, and all the boys could lounge around and watch football. Never in a million years did I think that this would be something that would translate into a career that I love. I graduated high school with honors and felt really pressured to go to college. So, I ended up going to college for business and marketing. About three years into it, I started to ask myself the major life questions: Can you see yourself doing this? Will you be happy? Can you sustain yourself in the type of environment that it takes to be successful as a marketing executive?

In asking those questions, I realized two things: I didn’t have the heart it takes to be a businessperson; I wanted to be someone to give and not to take. I dropped out of college and had no idea what I was doing, and one of my partners at the time was doing interviews for women in real estate in Boston. She happened to be doing an interview with a woman who was opening up a small cafe and asked her in the interview, “What are some things you’re struggling with?” The woman responded, “Just finding people who can cook, finding line cooks.” My partner at the time tells her, “My girlfriend is a chef. She’s the best chef I know.” Because of that, this woman trusted her and told her, “Bring your partner in!”

That was supposed to be a seasonal job. I ended up learning how to cook burgers, taking temperatures of meats, and I kind of picked everything up really fast. The owner ended up asking me if I wanted to start opening up the cafe, and from there, I learned about opening processes and ordering and inventory and all of these things. I took that small amount of knowledge and confidence to the next restaurant, which ended up being a Scottish restaurant, where I was making blood sausages and haggis and things like that. It all really started from that one person being like, “You’re a chef!” and me being like, Wow, I have been doing this for free for so long, and I do love it.

Do you have a food philosophy?

Something that I believe about food and us as humans is that everything is energy. The energy that I put into the food is the energy that the guest will be consuming. I think it’s very important that chefs really consider why they do what they’re doing. I think there’s so much responsibility when you’re feeding people’s minds, bodies and souls, and that’s not a small thing. 

Maux Morgan
Photo courtesy of Maux Morgan.

It took me a long time to understand what it was about cooking, physically, that made me feel so fulfilled and content. Even when the money is not great, there’s still something that I’m receiving from the process and the act of cooking and giving. I think I realized this a few weeks ago. My partner was sick, and she asked me for some soup. I ended up making some Jamaican chicken foot soup for her. I go to give her a bowl, and as I give it to her, she’s like, “Oh, it’s too hot. Can you cool it down for me?”

So, I go back into the living room, and it’s in this nice ceramic bowl, and I’m there, blowing and stirring the bowl and the soup. And, the sound that the spoon is making as it’s hitting the bowl, it just had this vibration, and it kind of just froze me in that moment. I didn’t realize how long I had been standing there, just stirring, until she came out of the room and was like, “Where’s the soup?” And I had just completely forgotten what I was doing. I was completely pulled in and hypnotized by the frequency of giving. 

Putting all these things together, from the beginning of my career to where I’m at now–and I still don’t know how to articulate or explain that on a scientific or metaphysical level–is how I  describe the energy that goes into food. I guess that keeps me grounded. It keeps me loving it.

What’s it like being a woman of color in a kitchen? 

Not to be obvious, but there is a lot of misogyny in the restaurant industry. And then, to double and triple down on different aspects of my identity, being a Black, Caribbean, LGBTQ member, all of those things, at some point in my career, negatively affected my trajectory. It’s been what it is. There’s racism, there’s sexism, there are all types of isms that I’ve either had to overlook or suppress. If there was any time that I was able to speak up for myself, that always seemed to backfire–being a Black woman and being perceived as aggressive or causing conflict–when in reality, it’s just someone trying to find their voice.

The misogyny, for me, plays a bigger role than anything. Men have a hard time taking directions from women. I appear very young, so I’ve had a lot of experiences in my career of being people’s boss and them not realizing that I am the age that I am and saying, “This twenty-year-old woman is telling me what to do,” and I’m actually thirty and have been doing this for more than ten years. That has been more of a battle for me.

Lore’s menu is as diverse as our borough — tell me about cooking such a wide range of dishes. 

It’s been very educational. I’ve worked with a lot of different cuisines, and I feel like South Asian is not one that I was very familiar with. Learning about it has been very rewarding. I was very interested in the connections that you find in Indian and Caribbean cuisine. My partner is Indian, and one of the things we bickered about was the difference in curries. She calls it a “chicken curry,” and in Jamaica, we call it “curry chicken.” It took us about a year to realize that we’re both using the word curry correctly; it’s just that one culture is putting the curry on the chicken, and the other is putting the chicken in the curry. I love to explore those connections in curries, in the doughs, in rotis, and things like that.


I was at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden last week, and I was in the tropical dome, where they have all of the tropical fruits. I noticed that every single fruit that we think of as Caribbean, like jackfruit, mangoes, starfruit, actually came from India or southeast Asia. They’ve all obviously changed and adapted, but they made a home for themselves on these islands because they have a similar climate. I just thought that was so fascinating.

Exactly! They’re all Indian fruits. I went to India last year, and I was very shocked to see one of my favorite fruits from growing up in Jamaica. They call it a sitaphal. In Jamaica, we call it sweetsop. We were in this little bicycle car, and I saw the little stand, and I was like, “We have to stop!” So, I stopped and bought, like, twenty of them. And I was like, “How did this get here? How did it get to Jamaica?” It’s so interesting.

What are you doing on your days off?

It depends on the weather. If there’s a lot of sunshine outside, I love to sunbathe with clothes on, and receive the energy of the sun’s rays. If it’s not a day to be outside, I enjoy reading and just spending time with my partner because our schedules are so different. We’ll make breakfast, maybe chocolate chip pancakes and hot chocolate, things like that. We do a lot of cooking together at home.

So you’re not fed up with cooking after cooking at a restaurant all week?

Not at all. I will go home, and if my partner asks for some mac and cheese, I’m gonna whip up some mac and cheese. It’s all for love. 

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