Story by Liesel Schmidt

Having been formally trained at L'Acadamie de Cuisine and then getting her cooking chops in DC restaurants such as Marcels' by Robert Wiedmaier, Kyirisan and Sababa Uptown, Chef Shelby McCrone has some serious talent. When Junction Bakery & Bistro owner Noe Landini was looking for some new blood in the kitchen at his Del Ray location, he tapped McCrone for the position—first as Chef de Cuisine and then as Executive Chef. “I love the creativity of cooking,” says McCrone. “There is always something new to learn and experiment with, so it never gets boring in the kitchen.”

Like many passionate chefs, McCrone got her start in restaurants at a relatively early age. “I have always worked in the restaurant industry,” she says. “I started at 15 working in a small family-owned deli where I fell in love with the environment that you get from your restaurant family. When I was about 22, I decided to take my love of the industry and turn it into a career by going to culinary school. The rest is history.”

Now, she brings her flair to the dishes at Junction—though some of her greatest creations are not actually on the menu. “My signature dish is a ‘crab cake’ made with lions mane mushrooms instead of crabs,” she says, noting that it can’t be ordered at the restaurant. “I developed it last year during quarantine and it just became my signature dish. I won a challenge on the Food Network with it, so it must be alright. As a vegetarian but also a Maryland girl, I had to find a way to get my crab cake fix without the crab, and lions mane mushrooms mimic the flavor and texture perfectly.”

Her favorite Junction dish to cook is the brisket. “Even as a plant-based human, I find it very zen and calming,” says McCrone. “It's just such an art. You really have to get the feel for it and there is something about maintaining a fire that just puts me in a happy place.” Her other happy place is eating Oreos and ice cream. “I would eat ice cream for legitimately every meal if I could,' she admits with a laugh. 1508 Mt Vernon ave #1718, Alexandria, VA 22301 •

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