Audrey was my maternal grandmother and is my biggest inspiration for cooking, my career, and the way I approach, appreciate, and respect food.
She was the classic Appalachian grandmother. She worked as a butcher and in her father's gristmill, she always kept bees, she had an enormous garden, she had a basement full of preserves, and she was always cooking.
At a very young age, she saw my interest in food, took me under her wing, and started teaching me all the things that she had been taught as a child.
When I was naming this restaurant, the one where I want to spend the rest of my life cooking, naming it after her was an easy choice. I didn't consider anything else.
To sit here in Audrey and look back over my career—all the tough times, all the great times—I’m reassured that everything is exactly the way it's supposed to be and that's what got me here. I was inspired to create a place that's better for the environment, better for the team, and to create an experience for our guests that will hopefully be a memory that lasts forever.
My idea in designing Audrey was blending the scenes of where I grew up in Appalachia with my passion for a modern Japanese architecture—to make it feel like an Appalachian tobacco barn, but also to be contemporary.
Where I grew up, it's very rural. Everyone grows everything they eat, and you hunt and fish, and you know exactly where your food comes from. One of the main things that I want to keep alive are not only the traditions of what goes into the pot, the recipes, and what ends up on the table, but the specific seed varietals and heritage animal breeds. They all tell a story. And that's the story that needs to stay alive. It's those stories that allow us to understand truly how special and unique our individual cuisines are throughout the South. The products also carry important lessons learned throughout history.
The soul of Audrey reflects the values of my grandmother. Besides cooking, she was a very nurturing person. She just had this incredible warmth about her, and she took great pride in feeding people, taking care of people, and helping people. I knew that I wanted to do more than just cook food at Audrey. I wanted to create a place that allowed our team to be healthy and happy. We strongly believe that the health and happiness of our team will allow us to take better care of our guests.
When people come to Audrey, I want them to experience what is possible with Southern food and how special and unique our cuisine is in the South.