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Meet the Chef

A Q&A with Chef Kris Stubblefield

By: Lodge Cast Iron / December 14, 2023

Behind each of our Recipe of the Month features, you’ll find Kris Stubblefield—Lodge’s first Chef, unmatched dropper of 90s hip-hop references, and garlic’s biggest fan. Our January 2024 recipe is near and dear to his heart, so we sat down with Chef to learn more about what this Chicken Marsala means to him, and how he turned his passion for cooking into a career in cast iron.

Chef Kris Illustration
Can you tell us how you started cooking?

I was raised by my mom and she used cooking as a tool to keep my brother and I in the kitchen while she was making dinner because she didn't want to have two little boys that were two years apart kill each other in the other room. We would stand on a stool or a kitchen chair and stir pots and that just fostered this deep interest in cooking. Later, my mom had an idea that we should cook through a James Beard cookbook. She had this old yellow, stained, flour-in-the-pages cookbook, and we would open that up in the beginning of the week and pick out a recipe, she'd get the ingredients, and then later in the week I’d make the recipe with her.

How did your mom’s cooking influence your own?

My mom's a fantastic cook. Anything she touches turns to gold. And she can't cook for four people—she always cooks for an army. I like to make people feel whole, and having a good plate of delicious food is a great way to start that. I learned that from my mom.

Your Chicken Marsala recipe is influenced by her, right?

I wish that I remembered the first time I had Chicken Marsala, but I don't! But I do remember that growing up, Chicken Marsala was one of those things that my mom made that I always felt, wow, it's just good. I begged her to teach me how to make it. And she told me it wasn’t hard! We just set up a dredge station, seasoned the flour, and we cut chicken and chicken breasts and then she deglazed the pan with Marsala wine and there it was. She would either have egg noodles or her garlic mashed potatoes, they are the stuff that dreams are made of.

And you’ve been cooking this ever since?

Oh yeah. I loved that recipe so much that when I was a freshman or sophomore in college, my mom sent me a bottle of Marsala wine to the school that I went to, and at some point I had an early morning class and after I got out I thought, ‘I want some Chicken Marsala.’ It must have been 9 in the morning. I went to our tiny little kitchen in the dorm and I made a ton of it and I set off the fire alarm, but I had what I needed. So I walked outside with a giant plate of Chicken Marsala and sat on the bench eating it. My fraternity brothers were walking outside, scratching their heads, and I was just smiling.

How did you come to Lodge?

When I was 15, I met my wife Masey at a Baskin Robbins. We were really good friends for a long time—it only took me ten years to get her to date me. Masey is a fifth-generation Lodge family member. We were living in Washington D.C. when we got engaged, and we started looking to move nearer family. There were a couple positions that opened up at Lodge and I applied to one (and didn’t get it) and then another one and I did get it. 

I was working in our product development department, and every time we would come out with a new product, [former Lodge CEO] Bob Kellermann would say ‘That’s great but has anyone cooked in it?.’ At that point, we were giving products to chefs or people who worked at Lodge and asking them how the product felt. So we wanted to make that process a little bit more formal, and I worked with [Marketing Director] Carey Garland to start our Test Kitchen, and soon after I became our first Test Kitchen Coordinator. And that was a dream.

Chicken Marsala
How did you become a Chef at Lodge?

Social media took off in this time and we started needing more of our own content made specially for our products. About that time, we had a partner pull out of the National Cornbread Festival’s vetting process for the Cornbread Cook-off. And we needed a place to vet some of those recipes. Somebody had a connection with the culinary program at Chattanooga State and that’s where I met my culinary mentor, Chef Shannon Johnson. I started an apprenticeship with him and it was one of the coolest things that has happened to me. I had different things that I had to be able to do and different accreditations that I needed, and after some roadblocks with Covid, I’m now Lodge’s first Chef.

You are responsible for a lot of the recipes on our site; how do you come up with them?

With the role that I have, we don't make the same things over and over again. But I get to play with things and try new things. For example, our braised pork chops. We knew we wanted a different take on this recipe. So we asked, what else can we braise pork chops in? Why not milk? Or our biscuits and gravy, we challenged ourselves to make these on the stovetop for campers. We start with what cast iron can do, and what our community wants, and we go from there.

Any cast iron advice for home chefs?

Yeah, if you play golf, you understand the ‘let the club do the work’ mantra. Let the skillet do the work and it will let you know when it's time to flip or stir or finish up.

Cook your way through Chef Kris' fan-favorite recipes
Contributed By: Lodge Cast Iron

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