Former Private Chef to NFL & NBA Superstars, Chef Todd Shares How Family Shapes His Cuisine

For Marcus "Chef Todd" Fitzpatrick, home is where the heart—and food—is. Family was a key ingredient in his recipe of becoming a professional chef.

"I learned a lot about cooking from my maternal grandmother and my father," says Fitzpatrick, Executive Chef of Atlanta's FADE + FACET. "Every Sunday we would always go to my grandma's house and she'd always cook a big dinner. I saw that as a way to bring people together."

Fitzpatrick's dad passed down a creative approach to cooking, stemming back to childhood family trips to the grocery store where they'd buy seemingly unrelated ingredients and make a masterpiece meal out of them. His dad is also the etymological inspiration for Fitzpatrick's chef identity, "Todd," the middle name they both share. Fitzpatrick likes honoring his dad's creative influence.

chef todd with raekwon

Marcus "Chef Todd" Fitzpatrick

However, cooking wasn't always a creative outlet for Fitzpatrick, but more of a duty as the oldest of three siblings. He even studied mechanical engineering at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU), not considering culinary school until later in his 20s.

"I realized later in life that I liked mechanical engineering because I wanted the ability and space to create. Culinary ended up doing that for me."

While at FAMU, Fitzpatrick still gained culinary insight outside of the classroom through a new branch of his family dinner tradition—this time with his paternal grandmother who lived near campus.

"She had some good collard greens," remembers Fitzpatrick. "Her food gave me that feeling of home."

chef todd prepares food

Marcus "Chef Todd" Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick eventually attended Second Harvest Culinary School in his hometown of Orlando, Florida, learning technical skills to combine with his inherited family flair.

With no prior restaurant experience and no interest in working in Orlando's tourism industry, it was hard for Fitzpatrick to find a job post-school beyond catering gigs. He was hired as a prepper and dishwasher at Kasa, a restaurant downtown, working his way up to Executive Sous Chef in two-and-a-half years. Wanting to continue his growth beyond what Kasa could offer, Fitzpatrick decided to start his own business.

"I feel like I've always been an entrepreneur at heart," says Fitzpatrick. "It was scary, because there are no guarantees. You have to make sacrifices, but ultimately it felt like the best thing for me because I can control my own destiny."

His decision was a slam dunk, becoming the private chef for the families of NBA players Terrence Ross and Jerian Grant (Orlando Magic), as well as Grant's brother Jerami (Detroit Pistons). Once Fitzpatrick relocated to Atlanta, he became the personal chef of NFL player Deshaun Watson.

"Pesto Carbonara Pasta and Stuffed Chicken with Risotto were my favorite dishes to make for them," says Fitzpatrick. "Most professional athletes eat carb-heavy on game day so pasta was always on the menu on those days."

chef todd with Deontay Wilder

Marcus "Chef Todd" Fitzpatrick

The most valuable lesson from those experiences came before Fitzpatrick even stepped foot into the kitchen: the power of social media. Grant's manager discovered and reached out to Fitzpatrick through Instagram to set up a tasting.

"I use social media as a tool to promote what I'm doing. To me, it's important to build relationships. If you do good business, you'll always have return clients and they recommend you to others. In Atlanta, I've gotten a lot of my business through word-of-mouth."

Instagram was the catalyst in Fitzpatrick becoming FADE + FACET's Executive Chef, with owners Kelly and Damian Roberts following his work before bringing him on before they opened in November 2021.

"I try to be as transparent as I can of what I'm doing as a chef," says Fitzpatrick about his Instagram presence. "Any time I'm trying new dishes, even if I don't get them right the first time, I put them out there so people can see what I'm doing."

chef todd with jason campbell

Marcus "Chef Todd" Fitzpatrick

After taking a tour of the space and discussing Caribbean and soul food flavors with Roberts, Fitzpatrick designed the menu, channeling the creativity of his father as he visualized each dish. He looks at every plate as if it was a canvas.

Fitzpatrick's own favorites from the menu are Cajun Steak Oscar, a filet mignon with asparagus, scallion mashed potatoes, and a crawfish cream sauce, and the Fried Snapper, served with house coconut rice, plantains, and a seafood cream sauce.

"Soul food has such bold flavors," he says. "It's heavy-handed because when you think about your grandmother or your mother, they're cooking with a certain amount of love. When you cook with love, you're not skimping on anything."

That's a family recipe Fitzpatrick knows will make any dish feel like home.

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