You might remember Chef Smith from his years as Oprah’s chef, or for his appearances in “Iron Chef America,” “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters.” The James Beard Foundation award winner was born and reared in the town of Jasper, Fla., on the Florida-Georgia border, where his family still raises cattle, pecans and heirloom vegetables. And after 25 years of preparing award-winning meals for celebrities and heads of state and appearing on television, he is making Florida his home once again.
The Homecoming menu will feature Southern favorites like homemade pimento cheese, Church Lady deviled eggs, low country shrimp and grits, kale salad with Sweet Grass Dairy cheese and spiced pecans and a grilled Blackstrap pork chop with sawmill gravy. “Each dish has a little Florida twist and make guests feel like they’re on the back porch with me for every meal,” says Smith. Desserts will be a specialty, with cakes, pies and delectable sweets made daily and shipped from a bakery in Hamilton County, including the restaurant’s signature Mockingbird Cake.
The “rustic-chic” restaurant has a glass-walled show kitchen and the Southern Shine bar, featuring whimsical cocktails, punches and coolers that celebrate an era where characters might have created some homegrown spirits on their homesteads just beyond the springs.
By the way, Chef Smith attended Florida State University and did a culinary internship with the Walt Disney World College Program. Welcome home, Chef!