Get to Know Louisville's Best Chefs - Louisville Article

Get to Know Some of the Best Chefs in Louisville

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Get to Know Some of the Best Chefs in Louisville

Published May 10, 2017
Updated Nov 3, 2017

Louisville has gained a national reputation as one of the best foodie destinations in the country. Nearly any list of top culinary destinations will mention Louisville as a must-do! Jetsetter and USA Today have ranked Louisville as one of the best new local food scenes in the country, while National Geographic, Zagat, Travel + Leisure and members of the International Association of Culinary Professionals have all Louisville as one of the top-rated foodie destinations in the world. And for the second consecutive year, more than 16 restaurants have opened in the area!

With the overwhelming number of great dining options throughout the area, competition is at a very high level, which brings out the best in everyone. The vast array of cuisines, dining settings and culinary influences come together to form one of the country’s most diverse and exciting dining scenes.

To provide some perspective on how and why Louisville has become one of the best dining destinations in the U.S., we talked to several of the area's best chefs and restaurant owners to relate their experiences for our hotel guests.

Discover Some of the Best Chefs (and Restaurants!) in Louisville

When it comes to a love of cooking, most of our chefs indicated they had experience early in life that made them appreciate the art of a good meal. For example, Chef Eric Shaw of Jack Fry's was introduced to the joy of cooking by his mother and grandmother, who were both excellent cooks.

Chef Mat Weber of Uptown Cafe began as a photography student at the University of Louisville but soon discovered his love of cooking while working at Cafe Metro, a local favorite, which was right across the street from his current gig at Uptown Cafe.

Chef Anthony Lamas of Seviche, a Latin Restaurant, grew up appreciating his mother’s unique Latino flavors and developed a love for food and cooking as a result. Chef Zac Young of Marketplace Restaurant at Theater Square also grew up cooking with his mother and still enjoys cooking with her for holiday events.

Dallas McGarity, proprietor of The Fat Lamb, started as a dishwasher at a Country Club in South Carolina at age 15. His love of cooking sprouted from the staff there cooking and eating a big lunch together on Sundays.

Chef Steve Gustafson, who will begin his tenure at the new Omni Louisville Downtown hotel in March 2018, mentioned he enjoyed family meals together which they shared no matter how busy everyone was at the time. Volare’s Joshua Moore was introduced to cooking by both of his grandmothers and was known to change the channel from cartoons to cooking shows as early as Kindergarten!

While Louisville might not be the first city that comes to mind when considering a restaurant venture, the Derby City has attracted some of the very best! The area's many local chefs who are held in such high regard have helped to attract even more new restaurateurs, while Chef Andrew Hubbard of Martini Italian Bistro, came back home at his mother’s request and ended up getting married and starting a family.

Chef John Varanese, proprietor of Varanese as well as the River House Restaurant & Raw Bar and Levee at River House was imported by long time local favorite, Azalea, from Charleston, South Carolina.

Secrets of Louisville's Best Chefs

One of the other things we found in common amongst the chefs we spoke with was their desire to express themselves in a creative fashion. For example, John Varanese considers cooking as his playground. Josh Moore loves to express his creativity and to see the excitement from a guest when they sample a dish. Steve Gustafson added the “endless possibilities” that cooking food and bringing people together offer.

Anthony Lamas enjoys being able to use the creative part of his brain and then watch the joy that food brings people. Creating is also huge for Zac Young, who enjoys coming up with fun new dishes and making those at the table happy!

With the growth of the foodie scene in Louisville on such a fast pace, we asked these chefs their vision of the scene’s future. Everyone expects the scene to continue to grow and the restaurants will continue to push each other to execute on a higher level. Anthony Lamas added that a level of creativity would be needed to continue attracting new customers.

Why Louisville's Best Chefs Love the Derby City

Now that we have some insight into these chefs’ thoughts on the restaurant scene here, we asked for their favorite thing about Louisville in general. Anthony Lamas likes that Louisville is a big city with the charm of a small
town. Diversity was added by both Dallas McGarity and Andrew Hubbard as a critical part of Louisville’s appeal.

As Eric Shaw summarized, “The multiple cultures of Midwestern, Appalachia and Southern styles gives a chef a
lot of room to try different dishes and cuisines in Louisville.”

The availability of farm fresh and local products will continue to make Louisville a terrific place to be. Matt Weber mentioned he wants to see restaurants in the area become even more progressive with farm-to-table offerings. Zac Yong added that he’d put Louisville up against any city of its size for its food and culinary offerings.

The foodie scene in Louisville has become a large part of the city’s national notoriety in recent years, as visitors travel from near and far to enjoy the culinary delights these and other amazing chefs create for their guests. No two are ever alike and we encourage you to sample as many as possible during your visit!

Click Here to Read More Interviews with Top Louisville Chefs! 

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