When the Ivy Hotel in Baltimore shut its doors this past summer in the face of the coronavirus, Mark Levy, the executive chef of the hotel’s European-centric restaurant Magdalena, did not use the downtime to rest. Instead, he completely revamped the menu, which once focused on high-end European fare, to center more on the splendors of the surrounding area. “I wanted it to be more appropriate to the times we’re living in and to better showcase the region,” Levy says. Now, Levy serves Eastern Shore crab cakes and cheese dip made from local goat cheese alongside British fish and chips battered in Beazly beer from local brewpub Brewer’s Art.
A prime example of the Magdalena’s new spin: Levy’s soufflé Suissesse appetizer, which combines British and French techniques with regional Chesapeake spirit. “The cheese traditionally used is Gruyere, but you can use anything similar, like cheddar,” he says. “We use Mountaineer from Meadow Creek Creamery in Virginia. It’s a showstopper.” A combination of butter, milk, eggs, cream, and cheese, this rich dish is simple but takes patience and technique. “The most important part is buttering the mold,” he says. “I butter it once then put it in the fridge to let it set, then butter it again.” If you’re short on soufflé molds, a simple teacup will work just as well.