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Lisa Odom grew up in Piscataway, NJ, where she realized her true passion for cooking for friends and family. After working for six years at Yahoo!, she enrolled in culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco. Soon thereafter, Odom’s culinary path took her to an externship with Contemporary Catering in Kauai. In 2008, she moved to South Florida and honed her skills as a line cook under the tutelage of Chef Zach Bell at Cafe Boulud. A year later, she met Chef Jamie DeRosa. Odom went on to work with DeRosa for five years before opening Miami’s acclaimed Taste Gastropub, AMG Restaurant, and The Tudor House.
Her journey landed her a position at Almond Restaurant in the Hamptons, but eventually Chef DeRosa lured her back to Miami with a leadership role at the widely anticipated Tongue & Cheek. Odom was an integral part of the opening team that led the restaurant to be named a Best New Restaurant in America by both Bravo and Eater. After leaving Tongue & Cheek, Odom helmed the kitchen at South Beach’s critically acclaimed Oolite.
Currently, Odom is the Executive Chef at Maryland’s SUCCOTASH, where she executes the inspired Southern cuisine of the restaurant’s celebrated Culinary Director, Chef Edward Lee. When she’s not cooking, Odom enjoys snowboarding and taking in Washington football games. She’s an avid New York Yankees fan, too.
Tell us about yourself and your culinary background?
In 2001 I left NJ and moved to San Francisco to find out what the hype was about the internet. I worked at Yahoo! for six years but always had a passion for cooking. I decided that I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer anymore and went to Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco. I graduated in 2006 and have been cooking since! I spent a year in Kauai, HI, a year in NY, and was in South Florida for six years.
How does it feel to be one of the few female chefs in the DC area?
Being a woman in our industry today is much easier than it was 20 years ago. There were a lot more struggles. It actually makes me blush when I get categorized like that.
What brought you to Succotash?
I worked with Michael Reginbogin for seven years and opened three restaurants with him in Florida. We’ve built an amazing relationship and he always knew I wanted to continue working with him. The minute construction of SUCCOTASH was finished we made contact, and he got me on a plane and flew me to Kentucky to do a tasting for Chef Edward Lee.
What new, creative dishes can we expect at Succotash?
We’re opening for brunch this weekend and we have some new dishes that are amazing! Everyone has to try the big breakfast and sausage & gravy.
What’s your favorite kind of food?
My favorite food is New Jersey pizza and Tastee’s sub. If you go to central New Jersey, you have to get a sub there.
Who would you call your mentor?
Work ethic is important in any industry, and I have to give credit to Chef Zach Bell in Palm Beach, FL. He definitely made me into the person I am today.
What are your cooking influences?
I spent a number of years in the Bay Area and in Miami. I’d have to say that a lot of my influences are Asian or regional cuisine from the Miami area.
Where do you eat out other than Succotash?
In Miami I loved Gabose. Since I’ve been in DC, I’ve ventured Restaurant Eve and Zatinya.
What will Succotash feature in their holiday menu?
Tons of stuffin’, plenty of fried chicken, and lots of pies!
What do you serve at home for your holiday dinner?
I have a very big family. When we get together for the holidays we all cook together. have an Italian aunt who makes the best manicotti and my grandmother makes pirogies. We have a shmorgishborg of food.