Steven Devereaux Greene, The Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary, NC)
Today, it’s time to call it. I’m tired of hearing it. Some of you need to stop saying that modernist cuisine isn’t “real food.” That’s just damn silly, and, frankly, it sounds like a lot of ignorance to me. Here at The Southern Fork, just because I love macaroni and cheese and barbecue and my granny’s green beans that have cooked all day does not mean I can’t also love composed dishes of ingredients transformed and manipulated in ways that delight all of the senses. There is a definite place in my world for tasting menus, and on occasion, I love to experience food as an experience, as an occasion, more than just a good meal. Steven Devereaux Greene, the executive chef of The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, NC, is one of those creating progressive American regional cuisine. When I eat his food I am wowed, delighted with texture, amazed at the effort and composition conceptualizing and building each dish, and left thinking about delicious ingredients and combos in new ways. It is beyond the everyday, sure, but then, who is attracted to making this kind of cooking his every day? A native of upstate South Carolina, that’s who, a man who started his restaurant career as a dishwasher. The quest for excellence and precision is Steven’s calling card, and his thoughts on how he does what he does will have you signing up for a tasting menu in no time.