Greg Baker, The Refinery, Tampa, FL (Live from ATLFWF)

photo: the refinery

photo: the refinery

Tomorrow is the last service of The Refinery, a Tampa, Fla. restaurant that has been pushing the boundaries since 2010. At the helm of it for its entirety has been Greg Baker, a chef also pushing the boundaries, who’s been nominated for five James Beard awards, whose retirement from his kitchen was announced in Food & Wine, but who’s also written extensively about the pitfalls of the industry, from its taxing affect on mental health to his piece called “A Pissed-Off Tampa Chef Explains The “Farm To Fable” Controversy.” It pissed a lot of people off, especially ones who use the names of farmers but don’t build relationships with them. Still, what I see in Greg is a passion for the language of food, so much so that there is often frustration when so many of us don’t get it, or worse, simply don’t care. This is a chef who trying to tell you something through cooking, and as he retires The Refinery this weekend, he’s readying for his next course.  

Episode 147 >

Lindsey Barrow, Lowcountry Street Grocery (Charleston, SC)

photo: stephanie burt

photo: stephanie burt

I’ve been interested in Lowcountry Street Grocery since talking to director Lindsey Barrow before its wheels even started rolling a couple of years ago. But these days, I’m a customer. I shop on the bus when I can for veggies and other local foodstuffs, and now I’m on their email list for a weekly bag pick up. So in short, I’ve seen this food system in action; it works, and it’s quietly revolutionary. It’s bringing farmers and shoppers together, a mobile market that turns a profit in the tech company parking lot and also near the extended stay hotels where people live by the week. Barrow’s trying to prove we can fix our food systems in a way that is delicious for all, and he’s not just preaching on paper; he’s working numbers in a rolling grocery store that is just the beginning of his mission.

Episode  148 >

Steve Palmer, The Indigo Road Hospitality Group & Ben’s Friends (Charleston, SC)

photo: aaron kotowaski

photo: aaron kotowaski

Restaurateur Steve Palmer has long been part of Charleston, SC’s food scene, but when Oak Steakhouses and O-Ku Restaurants started popping up in other cities in the South, this dynamic leader of The Indigo Road Restaurant Group landed on a bigger stage. It’s something he’s embraced, seizing the opportunity to bring to life his ideas of hospitality and his role to define and shift industry culture, including as a mentor to many through Ben’s Friends, a food and beverage industry support group for those who struggle with substance abuse. Still, the nuts and bolts of all of this has to be good restaurants, and Steve knows how to build them. It’s a mix of brain and heart, and he has an abundance of both.

Episode 149 ›