Hailing from kitchens of renowned culinary cities across the country, Chef Max Hussey has now spent three years at the helm of Folk’s Folly, Memphis’ original prime steak house. There he has mastered and elevated the award-winning traditional menu while building the restaurant’s popular weekly specials into a curated culinary showcase.
Commanding the finer points of open-flame cooking has long been part of Chef Max’s expertise. Prior to his Memphis arrival, Chef Max served as Executive Chef of Southpaw BBQ & Southern Cookin’ in San Francisco, where he earned a spot in the Top 30 BBQ Restaurants in the Country by OpenTable voters. He was also Chef de Cuisine of 25 Lusk in San Francisco, one of Esquire’s Top 20 New Restaurants of 2010, and of Caliterra in Boston, as well as Executive Sous Chef at Emeril’s Delmonico (New Orleans) and Sous Chef at Emeril’s New Orleans.
Although Folk’s Folly is known for its high quality and attention to detail, it is also rooted in the simple pleasure of a perfectly prepared steak. Luckily for the restaurant’s patrons and other home cooks, Humphrey’s Prime Cut Shoppe, located right next door, sells prime cuts and menu specials in-store and online. Folk’s Folly founder Humphrey Folk created the store in response to public demand for the products his namesake restaurant was serving.
Starting with the best ingredients is key to the restaurant’s success and yours, so once you’ve made your choices from Humphrey’s, you’re well on your way. Duplicating the full Folk’s Folly experience may not be possible, but it doesn’t take a professional chef to make the most of a well-selected cut. With these 10 tips from Chef Max, you can still easily get a taste of a Memphis original wherever you call home.
10 Steps to the Perfect Prime Cut
1. REST UP FIRST
Take your steaks out of the fridge or cooler 10 minutes before using. Taking the chill off before introducing the meat to heat allows it to cook more evenly.
2. DRY NOW, DELICIOUS LATER
Give your steaks a quick pat dry with paper towels or clean dish cloths before seasoning. You’ll get a better sear without the excess moisture.
3. DON’T BE SHY WITH THE SEASONING
The crust of your steak seals in the goodness, so make sure to season both sides thoroughly with salt and pepper to create this flavorful layer.
4. USE A WELL OILED MACHINE
Think of the grill like your pan and oil the grates instead of your steak. This step ensures you’ll have a smooth, conductive cooking surface without affecting the flavor of the meat. At the restaurant, we’ll oil the grill continuously and scrape it down.
5. AIM FOR MID-FIRE NOT BONFIRE
Your grill goal should be medium-high heat. For a final internal temperature, get to 125 degrees for medium rare and go up from there, if desired.
6. WARM YOUR BONES
If you’re grilling a cut that includes a bone, getting a consistent temperature throughout can be tricky. Make sure to put the bone directly over the flame at some point during your flipping to get it hot, which will radiate outward to cook the meat closest to the bone evenly.
7. FLIP FOR EVEN COVERAGE
A good, even sear all the way around requires patience but also proactive measures. On a typical gas grill, four flips are standard during the grilling process; on an open flame, you’ll need to flip more frequently.
8. GET SOME CLARIFICATION
Finish off your steak with a drizzle of clarified butter, which has a higher burn temperature and can handle the flames, or move the steak to a pre-heated cast iron skillet and add the butter there. We use Plugra European-style clarified butter at Folk’s Folly, but you can also create your own at home.
9. EARLY IS ON TIME
Take the steaks off the heat when the internal temperature is 5-10 degrees lower than your goal. Let it rest one minute per each degree under (5-10 minutes). This step is possibly the most critical. Resting allows the muscle fibers of the meat to reabsorb the moisture lost during cooking, making sure that goodness is in your steak and not all over your plate.
10. THE SLICE IS LIFE
Use a sharp carving knife, never a serrated blade. When slicing, cut against the grain or in line with the bone.
Chef Max would love to welcome you to Folk’s Folly for your next exceptional dining experience and wishes you great success in creating your own perfect plate at home. Visit Humphrey’s Prime Cut Shoppe in person or online at humphreysmemphis.com to get started with the same high-quality ingredients as the professionals.
Humphrey’s Prime Cut Shoppe is located at 551 South Mendenhall, Memphis, Tennessee 38117. Learn more at (901) 328-2245.
This article is sponsored by Humphrey’s Prime Cut Shoppe. All photography by DCA.