M&P Restaurant, chef farrington,


From Real Estate to Ravioli

Inside Chef William Farrington’s Journey from Day Job to Dream Job

By Abigail Abesamis Demarest | Photography by Chryseis Golden

Chef William Farrington has turned a lifelong passion for food into an American omakase experience on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Walking into M&P restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, is like stepping back in time, specifically into an early twentieth-century Pullman train car, complete with green velvet chairs, gold accents, and vintage glassware. Orchestra soundtracks to iconic American films, from Star Wars to Superman, play overhead as diners make their way into the restaurant.

William Farrington’s chef origin story goes back to when he was a kid, coming home from school to watch Julia Child (of The French Chef) and Martin Yan (of Yan Can Cook) on PBS. “I didn’t do a lot of cooking when I was growing up, but I always liked food, and I liked to eat really good food,” Farrington tells VIE. He recounted a time when, as a young child, he loaded up his plate with escargot at a buffet.

His home cooking journey began at age twenty-one when he came home from college after his mother passed away. “My dad didn’t have a lot of food in the house—it was mostly just Cheetos and Stouffer’s—so we went out to dinner a lot that summer.” Farrington finally decided he wanted to enjoy a home-cooked meal with his dad and learned to make seared tuna, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, and a balsamic reduction. They both enjoyed the meal and the experience, so Farrington learned how to make another one, and his passion and skills grew from there. “For me, that’s really what food is about,” he says. “I love eating and I love feeding people, but I really like what it does and how it brings people together at a table, especially in today’s world where everyone is glued to their phones. It’s those moments that I find the most exciting: people coming together over a meal, talking about it, and that leading to other conversations. I feel like those moments are more fleeting nowadays.”

Chef Farrington, M&P restaurant, Farrington food

M&P, a tongue-in-cheek play on “meat and potatoes,” is a celebration of American cuisine, presented in a tasting menu format that he describes as “American omakase.

But Farrington’s career in food didn’t take off immediately. After college, he became a real estate broker, and his deep dives into food science and history and kitchen experiments were relegated to his spare time. “Real estate was always just a job; it was a good living, but it was never anything I was excited about doing when I woke up in the morning,” he shares. “It got to the point where instead of wanting to go to work, I wanted to go home and use different salt mixes on the whole sides of pig I had in my fridge and see how it would cure, or smoke it at different temperatures. It was then that I decided, ‘If you’re ever gonna do it, you’d better do it now.’”

M&P Restaurant, chef farrington,

So he quit his job and dropped everything to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley and started washing dishes at restaurants until they let him cook on the line. “Most people get into food at a really young age, and I was doing it at twenty-eight, washing dishes just to get into a kitchen,” he says. “But I loved it, I loved the pace of it, and I knew I was going to keep showing up until they put a pan in my hand and taught me something else. I was there to learn as much as I could as fast as I could since I was already getting a late start.”

Working OAK at Fourteenth in Boulder, Colorado, was a particularly formative experience and where Farrington said he went from being a really good line cook to someone who could run his own business. “OAK at Fourteenth is where I got my ‘MBA’ in how to run a restaurant,” he says. The restaurant’s everything-from-scratch ethos and incorporating an impressive amount of techniques into each dish were things he took into his first-ever restaurant concept, M&P.

Chef William Farrington, Elizabeth Farrington, Farrington Foods, M&P restaurant,

Chef William Farrington and his wife, Elizabeth, owners of Farrington Foods and M&P restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

M&P, a tongue-in-cheek play on “meat and potatoes,” is a celebration of American cuisine (from standout ingredients to Farrington’s favorite dishes), presented in a tasting menu format that he describes as “American omakase.” Taking inspiration from the Japanese phrase and dining style meaning “I’ll leave it up to you,” Farrington serves course after course without diners knowing what comes next. Each night, he takes guests on a tour of Americana, serving elevated twists on comfort food classics.

The menu changes at Farrington’s whims, and he uses creativity as his compass. However, one dish that has endured since the restaurant’s soft opening at the beginning of 2024 is his signature tater tots, which he served at the Seaside Farmers Market when he first moved to town during the pandemic. At M&P, they’re fried to perfection, topped with chive crème fraîche and Marshallberg Farm Osetra caviar, and paired with a Champagne shooter to round out the elevated brunch theme of the first course. When introducing the dish to the dining room, Farrington notes the North Carolina-based farm is one of the only American farms employing the proper aquaculture to be classified as royal caviar. As each course comes out, Farrington paints a picture of the standout producers and childhood memories that make each dish special—anecdotes that enhance the flavor of each bite.

Every dish that comes out of the M&P kitchen is familiar yet elevated, from caviar-topped tater tots to ravioli en brodo (highlighting Mangalitsa pig) featuring a homemade broth that takes days to make. Every component of each dish, from the pasta dough to the salted caramel gelato, is made from scratch by Farrington. He preps, cooks, and plates all the dishes every night and somehow still has time to tell a story about each one as it’s served. Perhaps his most superhuman feat is that he does it all seemingly without breaking a sweat and appears totally at ease throughout service, from the minute he welcomes guests to the dining room to thanking them on their way out. Farrington’s passion for food is apparent in how he talks about it and the dishes he creates. A meal at M&P is full of those rare moments he speaks so fondly of: human connection over a shared experience—delicious food full of heart, soul, and flavor.

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To learn more about M&P and Chef William Farrington, visit FarringtonFoods.com.

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