Chef Steve Ferrell
Owner / Executive Chef of Firebox 55
Chef Ferrell brings the sophisticated tastes of fine dining to accessible sandwiches and BBQ.
“I will always cook with the best quality ingredients I can find and use my 20+ years of experience to create the best tasting dish every single time.”
Chef Steve Ferrell is one of the original Root to Table Top Chefs and known for his fine dining cuisine. After a successful run at Hillbrook Inn & Spa in Charlestown, WV, Steve has now opened his own restaurant in nearby Martinsburg. We caught up with the talented chef turned entrepreneur for an update on his career, “Foodie Bites,” and new place, Firebox55, located at 55 Meridian Parkway, Suite 112.
Guilty pleasure snack: “Lately I have been craving fried chicken almost all the time and I rarely give in. But I think about getting some more than a few times a week!”
Favorite meal growing up as a child: “I’ve always loved hearty winter foods that stick to your ribs. Beef stew, roasted chicken, pot roast, meatloaf and mashed potatoes.”
Most essential item in the kitchen: “My new Southern Pride SPK-500 smoker of course!!”
The one condiment I can’t live without is: “All types of vinegar, very underrated for its ability to brighten up all sorts of recipes.”
Meet Chef Steve Ferrell
A native of Brunswick, MD, Chef Steve received his training at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. “After coming back from my first year of college, I wasn’t really sure what to do with my life,” says the chef. “I was working as a bar-back where my brother was working. I struck up a friendship with the chef and began helping him when he was busy. That is where I found out I was good at cooking and enjoyed it, so I decided to go to culinary school to learn more about the profession.”
After stints at luxury country inns, Chef Steve decided to take his skills in a new direction. “I’d grown a bit tired of strictly being a “special occasion” chef,” says Ferrell. “I want to be able to cook for the people I love and the people that live around me for any occasion, special or not!”
Chef Steve and his family live in Hedgesville, WV – just a stone’s throw from his new restaurant. “I love the natural beauty of our area and the small town charm that we have here. I just feel like the time is right to share my talents with my neighbors.”
Inspiration Behind “Firebox 55”
With his new focus, Ferrell is exploring ways to incorporate his experiences into Firebox55’s sandwich menu. “I’m hyper focused on sandwiches for the restaurant now. Any chef (no matter what level of kitchen) will tell you we are all basically sustained by sandwiches.”
“It’s always been so easy to grab some scraps from whatever dishes you’re making that day and throw it between some bread,” continues the chef. “There have been a ton of crazy combinations over the years. Some work, some don’t … but I’ve definitely developed a great love for fine cuisine smashed between two slices of great quality bread.”
And remember that most essential item in Chef Steve’s kitchen? BBQ is prominently featured on the Firebox55 menu – and it’s the inspiration for the restaurant’s name. Explains Ferrell, “I chose Firebox to emphasize our focus on smoked meats. The firebox is the heart of a smoker where the fire is kept and maintained. The 55 is our address.”
Facing a New Challenge
“After spending the last 10 years focusing on new American and European cuisine, smoking meat is bringing about a whole new set of challenges for me! It’s a different culinary world. I’ve been working at becoming comfortable with a much different set of ingredients and techniques.”
And even though the menu is a change from fine dining, Chef Steve will continue to be a champion of locally sourced food. “I’m brand new to the Berkeley County culinary scene, so I know it will take me some time to make new connections. I would love to keep everything as local as I possibly can.”
Staying True to Local Sourcing
Chef Steve will continue to work with his longtime farm connections and food artisans like Whiffletree Farms (proteins), Spring Valley and Orr’s farm markets, Wades Mill, and Bolivar Bread. “Katie (Bolivar Bread) makes such delicious sourdoughs and more. We are definitely going to use as many varieties of bread as she can make for us. And I love being able to go and hand pick what I will be using for the restaurant,” says Ferrell.
Along with his connections, Chef Steve is also taking his culinary philosophy to his new endeavor. “I’ve always taken pride in my attention to the small details that add up to create an extraordinary dish. I will never claim to be the most avant-garde chef, but I do not take shortcuts.”
“I will always cook with the best quality ingredients I can find and use my 20+ years of chef experience to execute techniques to the best of my ability every single time. My goal is for the people of Martinsburg and beyond to know that every time they come to Firebox55 they will have great food and drink, and a consistently great experience.”
Taste of Blue Ridge – A Love for Collaboration
And as a Taste Top Chef “OG” Chef Steve will continue to delight Root to Table diners. “I believe the first Root to Table dinner was held at Hillbrook Inn while I was the chef there,” remembers Ferrell.
“I love being a part of Taste for two main reasons. One, it’s great to get out of my own kitchen every once in a while to collaborate with other local chefs and farmers. I have made some great friends and learned a lot more about my community that I may not have ever had the opportunity to do without Taste. And the format of Root to Table makes it so easy to talk directly to our guests. I love being able to meet my neighbors, have a good time, and get their feedback on what we are doing.”