Imagine this: You show up for a job interview only to find that a notoriously tough food critic from The New York Times is filling in as interviewer – and she wants you to cook on the spot.
Or, how would you feel if you got a performance review every.single. day. at work and the whole world can read the results?
Both of these things are part of Harrison’s life as a chef and why I could never do what he does. I’m once removed and it’s still nerve-wracking – just like the time he received his first written review in a popular paper as the chef of a destination restaurant in Vermont. Three years ago – almost to the date – is when it came out.
It was his first time at the helm of a restaurant kitchen and he had less than a month to move across several states, both find and move into an apartment sight unseen (more on that later), tap into a network of local farmers, build relationships, navigate new seasonality, create a menu (sourcing 80% within 50 miles or less), test recipes, train staff, and revive a nationally recognized restaurant that had fallen on tough times.
Looking back on that time all I can think is what the &*%$ WERE we thinking? I mean, there’s something to be said about finding comfort in the discomfort but the decision to uproot our lives again to take this challenge on was just ridiculous. Or was it?
When the review came out for his first menu I was so hesitant to open the paper and give it a read. I knew how much he wanted to represent his home state through southern flavors, comforting dishes and wood-fired smoke. As his wife, I saw his talent and the heart behind his hustle, but art is subjective and you never know how a critic might feel.
Reading that review again filled me with such gratitude. The writer, Alice Levitt didn’t just speak highly of his dishes, she gave context to his journey as a chef. That article, which you can read here, reminds me that if you just keep your eyes on the prize – even when you’re most uncertain and have faith to press on that special things will happen.
It also affirms what I have said all along – this guy has skills and his heart comes through on the plate.
As many of you know, Harrison has enthusiastically taken over the kitchen at The Honey Pot restaurant in downtown Winston-Salem. Tonight he, along with his talented crew, will debut his first menu back home in North Carolina. The timing could not be better as we head into the height of summer’s harvest season and as The Honey Pot’s front of house team celebrates a tremendous win with a coveted Wine Spectator ‘Best of Award of Excellence’.
The making of this menu includes days on end of creating and tweaking and testing to bring you something fresh and exciting. It is composed of ingredients sourced from our friends and neighbors and each night, plated and served by folks who sincerely want to elevate our local food scene.
I hope you pay them a visit and tell them Harrison’s #1 fan sent you. Above all, I hope you treat yourself to something special that I’m sure you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
With love for new seasons,