When I started thinking about this new feature, I decided that I wanted to profile a few people I don’t actually know personally. These would likely be chefs, owners, etc who run places or create products or experiences that I am continuously drawn to, even though I don’t know the people behind the scenes.
Brendon Hudson is the perfect example of this. He and his partner David run Liliahna, a small and growing boutique restaurant and catering group here in Baltimore. The first restaurant they opened was Allora and If you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend it. After I had my first lunch visit there in early 2022, I thought about it for weeks – loved everything about it. They do dinner on weekends, too. I’m plotting my next visit as I type this!
In case you don’t know, Brendon is part of the Velleggia family. Their restaurant in Little Italy was legendary for sure – and Brendon recently brought Velleggia’s back to life, this time inside the historic Cross Street Market in Federal Hill. I went with some friends a few weeks after it opened and I was impressed. I think I’ve told no newer than 20 people about the melon and prosciutto – when something very relatively simple is done well, that’s my absolute favorite thing. This beautifully uncomplicated dish is comprised of ripe and flavorful cantaloupe (it tastes like summer, no?) and thinly sliced and perfectly salty prosciutto, drizzled with olive oil, finished off with freshly ground pepper and microgreens. Lovely.
Another one of Brendon and David’s newest projects coming to downtown Baltimore later this summer is Zander’s. It’s their reimagined version of the short-lived (and completely gorgeous) restaurant, The Alexander Brown. Maybe you went, maybe you didn’t, but the Alexander Brown was only open a short time and had very mixed reviews – but it was one of the most beautiful spaces in the city and I’m so glad it’s coming back with the Liliahna team guiding it. One important thing to note: I’m told there will be valet parking, one really important thing their original restaurant developers should have considered. One thing I have learned over many years of working with restaurants, Baltimore really cares about parking, especially in the middle of downtown.
So, here’s my Q+A with Brendon. Even via email and Instagram messages, I get a good feeling from him. I like good vibes. I also like nice people who are doing things the right way. Thanks, Brendon.
Cake or Pie? And what kind?
Pie, apple. All day.
Your most prized possession?
My partner, David (even though it sounds weird to say possession, lol)
What’s your favorite thing to order out at restaurants?
Beef carpaccio and a slightly dirty gin martini
And, your favorite to cook at home?
Steak and pomme puree
What’s your morning beverage and how do you take it?
Two shots of espresso, over ice, black
What’s your personal motto?
“Rest at the end, not in the middle.”
What’s your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas, everyone is (generally) happy and excited to be around everyone.
Best advice you were ever given? And from whom?
“Don’t take it too seriously” – my grandfather
What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?
Being able to stay true to myself and my business and culinary beliefs through my restaurants
The last text you sent?
“I can make it work. Just make sure you let Julie know to put on calendar plz.”
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being at peace and calm, as often as possible.
What do you love most about food?
The power it has to bring people together, and create core memories. Even though, most of the time it isn’t about the food itself, but that specific place and time. Memories are made, and that’s invaluable, and I cherish being able to play a part in that.
What’s your favorite place in Baltimore?
Really have been loving CookHouse recently in Bolton Hill. Gabe is masterful.
Baker’s Dozen is an occasional column highlighting some of the very talented, hardworking and kind folks in the Baltimore food + beverage community. I hope you will make a point to support their businesses.