In the kitchen with Shawn McCoy: For Brown Dog Cafe owner, pursuit of perfection began with pancakes

BLUE ASH, Ohio - We invite you to dig into our column spotlighting different chefs from the Greater Cincinnati area. WCPO Contributor Grace Yek takes you into their kitchens and talks to them about their food. The chefs reveal their inspirations, philosophies, and provide a glimpse of their authentic selves.

At age five, Shawn McCoy cooked his own pancakes because they had to be perfect. He made them all the same size and kept the griddle at just the right temperature, so they would cook to a perfect golden brown. 

"Then I stacked them, all perfectly lined up, just like Frisch's," McCoy said.

It was that kind of meticulousness that led him to a culinary career. McCoy is, today, the chef and owner of Brown Dog Cafe in Blue Ash. Born in Middletown, his family moved to Cincinnati when he was a second grader. 

He learned to cook from his mom, and soon jumped in the kitchen to cook for the family.  

"My mom and dad went to work, and us five kids were on our own," he said. "I think my mom was happy and proud I cooked for everybody."
  As a teenager, McCoy mowed grass for $2 a lawn. He decided he would do better working in a kitchen. 

"I already had a good understanding of how to cook. I just had to get in the door," he recalled.  At 16, he landed his first restaurant job--as a dishwasher. In just 3 months, he worked his way up to become the line cook.

WCPO Insiders can read more about McCoy's journey to Brown Dog Cafe in Blue Ash. Learn what he considers his kitchen essentials, and get the recipe for his favorite meal to cook at home.

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