CHEF KENT GRAHAM
CHEF | PIT MASTER | CONSULTANT
Deeply rooted in Southern tradition with a contemporary approach to locally sourced ingredients, Chef Kent Graham brings an honest approach to food that is otherwise lost in technique. Classically trained, he started at his mother’s apron strings in Memphis, Tennessee. With both Father and Mother having a heavy appreciation for the arts, Kent’s youth was spent enriched with culture and education. Creating beauty and bringing it to life was a pastime in the Graham home.
Following his love of food, Kent studied at the hands of very talented mentors across the country. He has cooked in New York City, Napa Valley, Jackson Hole, Atlanta, and throughout the South. He now makes his home in both Atlanta, Georgia & Knoxville, Tennessee.
A Chef, a farmer, a huntsman; Kent introduces diversity to classic southern offerings. With a heavy concentration on locally sourced and crafted foods, he uses naturally raised or grown ingredients to highlight the cornerstone of his culinary philosophy - “Keep it local; Keep it fresh; Keep it simple.”
Moving forward, Kent hopes to break the mundane, over cooked, tired thoughts of Southern food over saturated with butter and all too commercial ideals with his new projects. As a Southern Foodways Alliance member and grass roots Southern boy, he looks to bring the heritage… history… stories…memories… back to Southern dining.
Kent has been featured in magazines and on television throughout the South. He has been a repeat participant Charleston Wine + Food, a guest chef at Popup dinners and supper clubs. Also cooking for past and presidents, vice presidents, military officials and other leaders of state. He has given his time to work with St. Jude on fundraising events.
A VIEW OF FOOD...........
What is food........... that is an eternal question that we often ask ourselves as chefs. Is it food that touches the soul, is it a piece of art work or does it bring back a memory. When I look at food I often see something far more than a source of energy. I see the long hours that we put into each piece of produce by a framer. The cow that was taken by a rancher and raise an unstressed cow so that gives off a wonderful steak.
I often find myself looking at the ingredients as so much more than what they are. How can I pull out the subtle sweetness from a brussels sprout or show the herb brush that a pig has eaten in the woods. I firmly believe in an local touch with everything that I use in a kitchen and building the relationship with the farmer so that I know as much as I can about that product.
Come and enjoy my food and life as I eat, entertain and travel.
WHERE IS THE INSPIRATION.........
Like everyone who is in an artistic field, you find you inspiration everywhere. I often will find myself walking through a farmers market just looking for an idea with no clue what i am looking for. Allowing my mind to go blank and take everything in. I have found when you are searching for something you will never find it but the moment that you stop searching it will come to you.
One of the best places that I find inspiration is in old church cookbooks. A perfect collection of recipes that are regional and have been share with the local community. What more can you ask for than a recipe for that perfect side dish or a casserole that is so simplistic but yet has so much complexity.
Not long ago I had attended a funeral in a small middle Alabama town. The church had banded together to cook a lunch that followed the service. There was food that had been brought from both the grocery and some that had been home made. In this sea of food there was one dish that caught my attention. A very simple and unassuming bowl of Creamed Corn. A bowl that was hazy and scuffed and had shown its decades of use. The corn matched the sames color of the bowl except for the texture of the corn popping through the top. I filled my plate with fried chicken, okra, peas and potatoes, but I was most excited about this spoon full of creamed corn. I sat down and began to eat and waited to enjoy the corn till the last. That first bite of that creamed corn brought me a mix of emotions. I was so excited by this one little bite that I started to look around to see if I could find the woman who made these. That one bite was filled with love, time, caring, patience and history. This was a dish that had not been made from a book it was a dish that had been made from years of being passed down as two people cooked side by side cooking for people they love.
I find that inspiration can hit me in the most unusual of placed and at the most unusual of times. I try to understand those moments and let them shape the food that I am creating.