I can’t remember when I first met Lori Yanke, or rather, heard about her via social media and the Baltimore restaurant world. Sometimes those two things don’t equal each other. I mean, isn’t it true that sometimes you follow someone’s work (and social media account…) you feel as if you know them? That happens in my brain all the time. And, then, when I actually meet them, I am all awkward, trying to play it cool and not come off as a complete weirdo. I’d say I’m 50/50 on that.
Anyway, I think I finally met Lori in real life at Modern Cook Shop in Fell’s Point. Remember that place? (Same folks who ran the wonderful Fork & Wrench.) What a neat concept — coffee shop, restaurant, bar, neighborhood grocery shop — but it just didn’t take off. I do remember that I had my first draft cocktail there, a negroni, courtesy of opening bar manager Ian Clark. Of course, it was delicious. I remember chatting with Lori and seeing her work on a visit there and being completely wowed by her talent. She’s also a pretty low-key person, I’m guessing quiet till you get to know her better. (I love your answer to the question about your personal motto, Lori. I can relate!) Whenever we interact, it’s always enjoyable. Whether she’s helping me pick out a steak from the case, telling me a great way to cook something or just having a chat on IG, she’s just nice. I think when we saw each other at Modern Cook Shop, she was working on their charcuterie in-house among other delicious meat and non-meat treats. I do remember having a charcuterie plate and being very impressed! She is incredibly dedicated to her craft and works very hard.
After diving into Lori’s IG, I realized that she worked at Dooby’s (and later, Sugarvale) and also at the first place I had really spectacular charcuterie, Bluegrass Tavern in Federal Hill nearly ten years ago. So, Lori’s been at this a while…which is why she’s so good at what she does. This also made me miss Chef Tim Dyson, one of the best of the best.
Take my advice, drive on out Falls Road — my favorite drive in town — to John Brown and get yourself a steak. Or some sausage, or whatever you love. And get the burger. Sit out back. It’s heaven.
Cake or Pie?
Pie. I get so much delight from food I don’t make myself, and I am not about to deal with pie crust. Cherry, pumpkin, pecan, chocolate cream…I’m not picky.
Your most prized possession?
My plants. I used to kill plants, but now I have over 60 houseplants and a tea garden outside.
What’s your favorite thing to order out at restaurants?
Oysters or tartare. Simple fresh ingredients. I will also never turn down an arepa.
And, your favorite to cook at home?
Soup. I make a pot every week, even in the height of summer.
What’s your morning beverage and how do you take it?
Mostly green tea, but I have a coffee about twice a week.
What’s your personal motto?
It involves a lot of swear words.
What’s your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas Day. All the work is done, the only thing I have to do is hang out with my extended family, eat, and drink wine.
Best advice you were ever given? And from whom?
“When it comes to the most important decisions in your life, don’t think with your head, don’t think with your heart, think with your gut.” My dad told me that twenty years ago.
What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?
I’m incredibly proud of the career I’ve built and the work that I do as a whole animal butcher. It’s taken me awhile to find my path, several different careers, but all the experiences have led me down this weird, twisty road to where I am and what I do now.
The last text you sent?
Of course, dude! Take care of yourself.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A cabin in the woods, by a lake or river, in autumn.
What do you love most about food?
What don’t I love?!
What’s your favorite place in Baltimore?
I grew up in a rural area outside of Baltimore. It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college that I started spending time in the city proper, and the first neighborhood I haunted was Fell’s Point. I was doing a play at Vagabond Theatre on the square and I would spend hours between classes and rehearsal wandering the side streets and getting my first real taste of city life. So, my favorite place is still the end of the pier, at night, looking at the Domino Sugar sign. It reminds me of how magical I thought the city was all those years ago, and how much beauty is still here.
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. Here is a link to past profiles.
photos courtesy of Colin Marshall / John Brown General and Butchery