Marcus Jacobs’s family loved food. Every night they all chipped in to make home-cooked meals. At 18 Jacobs found himself hanging around his neighborhood restaurant washing dishes and rinsing greens. He worked his way up to sous chef and found a true passion for the culinary arts.
“When you get exposed to this culture and you find that you love it, it just becomes your whole life,” he says.
Now he and his life partner, Caitlin Carney, own Marjie’s Grill, a Mid-City restaurant established in Jan. 2017 named after Carney’s mother. Jacobs is the lead chef of the establishment and Carney is the manager and runs the front-of-house operations.
After traveling extensively through Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, Caitlin and Jacobs discovered striking similarities between the climate, vegetation and cuisines of the Mekong and Mississippi deltas. They said they were inspired by the emphasis on nose-to-tail cooking and the flavors that flourish in these humid environments. That’s what they wanted to bring to their new business.
Because almost all of Jacobs’ ingredients are local, the restaurant’s menu changes daily. And this results in creative preparations of such things as pork spare ribs, wild Des Allemands catfish and barbeque beef short ribs.
To make all this delectableness happen, Jacobs uses a 10-foot Santa Maria grill, which allows him to raise and lower the grates holding the food, depending on whether he wants a quick sear or a low and slow process. Jacobs describes the grill as a beast but has affectionately named it “Lucy.”
“My perfect day would be to stand by the grill and experience the alchemy of barbeque: taking a big stubborn piece of meat and slowly turning it into a delicious, tender meal. And that’s kind of what I get to do every day.”
Jacobs must be doing something right because he has quickly made a name for himself as one of the best live-fire chefs in the city. Since opening, Marjie’s has been featured on several best new restaurant lists including Bon Appetit’s “50 Best New Restaurants 2017,” Food & Wine’s “Where to Eat in New Orleans Right Now” and Jacobs was named one of Louisiana Cookin’s “2018 Chefs to Watch.”
“From the moment people walk into our space we want them to feel welcome,” says Jacobs. “So everyone from the bartenders to the dishwashers is making an effort to make sure our diners have a memorable experience.”
320 S. Broad