Jason SmithChef Proprietor
Born at the old Rex Hospital in Raleigh, Jason Smith spent the majority of his youth in coastal Wilmington while enjoying his family’s roots in the capital city. Both of Jason’s grandfathers made their living working in downtown Raleigh, as well as Jason’s father. Greatly influenced by both of his grandmother’s southern cooking, Jason started cooking in restaurants in Wilmington in high school—a high school hobby which soon became a great passion, tempered by his life-long exposure to the fine art of southern cooking and honed by first-rate culinary training.
Jason’s first professional cooking experience began at the age of 19 with the 42nd Street Oyster Bar. As the busiest restaurant in Raleigh, he grew blissfully dizzy imagining all the he could learn from a high-volume kitchen with many adoring fans. Three years later he left with a love for briny oysters and a hunger for a true culinary challenge.
He began at Chef Ben Barker’s Magnolia Grill in Durham, and under Barker’s tutelage, began to fine-tune his palate, all the while developing a love for seasonal cooking. Each morning, visiting farmers introduced him to delicate varieties of fresh lettuces and herbs from their gardens. Soon, he’d learned how to coax out their fine flavors. In just a few short months, he’d gained an excellent foundation for cooking, certain that it begins by seeking the finest ingredients available.
Eager to train in one of America’s most competitive kitchens, Jason pursued a position in New York City’s Union Square Café, his enthusiasm and superior training preceding him. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, there wasn’t a moment to rest at this internationally renowned restaurant. Under the watchful eyes of three spectacular chefs—Executive Chef Dan Silverman, Chef and Partner Michael Romano, and Chef de Cuisine Kenny Callaghan—Jason’s culinary talent began to take shape. After sixteen intense months of training, Jason was certain he’d carry their greenmarket-driven approach and Danny Meyer’s hospitable dining style with him as he worked toward his life-long goal of becoming a Chef-Proprietor.