My name is Brian McDonald.

I grew up in the projects of Charlestown, Massachusetts, in a large family. Food was the most crucial moment of each day. Church food banks and farmers markets all stretched to feed five kids.

Living in a city with such a diverse culture and history, paired with low-income and resourceful parents, the kitchen was a playground of creativity and flavor influenced by the culture of my city. Time slowed down; burdens were released when bread was broken.

In the name of opportunity, my hard-working parents moved us out of the city and into the country in Chattanooga, TN. The move did away with concrete and bricks and traded it in for mountains, farmland, and a new potential—an entirely new influx of culture, history, and a different pace of life.

One of my first jobs when I was young was in a restaurant, in the dish pit. I loved the kitchen; I couldn’t stay out of it. Despite many careers, I’d always find my way back into the kitchen. Food was still the best time of my day, even when it was work.

About three years ago, I decided I wanted every day to be how I felt when cooking. So, I started a pop-up restaurant and dedicated my life to chasing the feeling that cooking brings me. I showed the world what I thought of food and an undiluted version of me, and I never felt more seen.

These days, the hard days and chaos are still muted every time I turn on the stove, every time a farmer comes in the back door, and every dish that hits the pass. This time, the difference is that it’s my restaurant @macs_kitchenandbar and every cut, sear, and chop is connected to the ones who grew it.

There was a transformative moment in my journey when I took a job for a non-profit organization as a chef. I spent six years teaching kids where their food came from and introduced them to cuisines they otherwise wouldn’t have experienced at a young age.

I hope my restaurant can continue shifting my city into focusing on slow food made with time and care and to see the revitalization of a food system in Tennessee that used to feed itself off its own land.

What is your favorite street food?

As simple as it may seem, a hot dog.

Which restaurant or food stand do you recommend? (Different from yours) (Add its Instagram handle if possible)


What is your guilty pleasure?

Pizza. Thick or thin, in crust we trust.

What ingredient do you find overrated?

Not an ingredient, but fried food.

What ingredient do you think is underrated?


What is your favorite kitchen tool?

The spoon I use for grits, it’s the grit spoon.

What is your worst kitchen nightmare?

A silent ticket machine.