Posted in

Top Chef Brian Malarkey Loves Cooking Oils; Here’s Why

brian malarkey with his line of oils
Photo by MADPICS

Talk about hot. Not only is Chef Brian Malarkey a success in the kitchen and on Top Chef – he’s created over 15 restaurant concepts across the U.S. and internationally, including the nationally acclaimed San Diego’s Herb & Wood and his most recent, opulent Pan Asian experience, Animae. He also recently launched Chefs Life Oils, a collection of cooking oils, one of which is used to create his roasted jalapeño hot sauce (recipe below). We sat down with the chef to chat about everything from his favorite kitchen gadgets to his go-to dish to Lunchables. Yes, Lunchables!

You’ve had great success as a chef/restaurateur. What does it take to open a successful restaurant?

It takes a lot of love, patience and perseverance, but most importantly a great team. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing people behind me.

Obviously you can be a great chef and not a great restaurateur. What sets the two roles apart?

I think a lot of chefs try too hard and find themselves cooking for other chefs rather than for the guests. To be a great chef, you have to find the middle ground – a place where you are proud of the food you’re making, yet it’s still approachable to large groups of people. If you cook for the masses, you’ll live with the elite. If you cook for the elite, you’ll live with the masses. Essentially, if you want to make money, make your food approachable.

Do you remember that moment when you discovered your passion for cooking?

Yes, I was cooking at Citrus in Los Angeles under Chef Michel Richard and I distinctly remember looking around on one crazy busy Saturday night and being in awe of how well everyone was working together. It was the perfect display of what we call “synchronized chaos.” There were so many celebrities and beautiful people staring into the kitchen because they were fascinated by the beautiful scene.

chef brian malarkey

Photo by MADPICS

What’s your favorite dish to make?

The simplest seafood dishes are often-times my favorite. Less is more. A clam dish with butter, herbs, lemon and charred bread is one of the best things in the world.

What’s the one thing your family asks you to make that might surprise us?

Some of my kids’ favorites are BBQ, bacon and turkey wraps or loaded breakfast burritos (I’m the king of breakfast burritos). They don’t have the most sophisticated paletes. Although during the pandemic when my restaurant Animae had to temporarily shut down, I brought home some A5 wagyu beef and caviar, and now they think it’s okay to ask for it on a regular basis! They have no idea that these aren’t everyday and they even told their friends how much they enjoyed those foods, so I threw a luxurious party for my kids and their friends last week with some A5 wagyu beef and caviar.

Tell us about Chefs Life Oils. What drove you to create the line? They look amazing. Do you have a favorite recipe using them?

I started teaching virtual cooking classes online during the pandemic and I realized that home chefs had no idea which oils to use at each step of the cooking process or they were using the same oil for everything. I made Chefs Life Oils to eliminate the confusion behind which oils to use, so people can make restaurant quality food from their own homes.

My favorite thing to make right now is aioli and mayonnaise with the Blending Oil because it’s so easy. I just throw the Blending Oil, an egg and some herbs in a blender and it takes 30 seconds. I’m so happy I don’t have to buy vinaigrettes anymore.

brian malarkey holding will bottle

Photo by MADPICS

Do you have one important tip for novice cooks that you find helps those fumbling their way through recipes?

Stop using extra virgin olive oil for everything! You need to use cooking oil. The world doesn’t revolve around extra virgin olive oil, and I will shout that from the rooftops.

Kitchen gadget you can’t live without?

A blender. I use mine daily for sauces, aiolis, marinades, smoothies and milkshakes. Also a Diamond Steel knife sharpener to keep my knives sharp, which is super important.

Any advice for future contestants on Top Chef?

Watch all the old seasons and figure out what foods Tom, Gale and Padma like and don’t like. I’m always super surprised when people make risotto or bell pepper dishes, knowing they hate those. Other than that, throw caution to the wind and have fun.

What’s one thing we’d be surprised to find in your refrigerator?
This is top secret, don’t tell anyone – but Lunchables. My kids love them. Let’s pretend I didn’t say that.

Roasted Jalapeño Hot Sauce

roasted jalapeño hot sauce

Photo by MADPICS


Makes about 24 oz
2 Tbsp Chefs Life Cooking Oil
12 jalapeños, cut in half (I use half red and half green)
1 yellow onion, cut into quarters
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp sea salt
1 lime, juiced
1 cup cilantro
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup Chefs Life Blending Oil


Preheat the oven to 425˚.
In a cast iron pan or baking dish, drizzle in the Cooking Oil to coat the pan.
Toss in the jalapenos, onion and garlic.
Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the peppers and onion are slightly browned and soft.
Add the jalapeno mixture into a food processor or blender with the lime juice, cilantro, vinegar and Blending Oil.
Process until smooth, tasting in between to add more salt or a touch more vinegar, depending on how you like it.
Store in the fridge until you’re ready to use, and enjoy!


Elizabeth Hazard

Elizabeth Hazard is a writer, producer and photography editor. Her work has appeared in various publications and she writes frequently about art, culture, fashion and history.



Leave a Comment