FEATURED GUEST: HARVEST 2018
Harvest—the act of gathering crops and then sharing the bounty—has served as inspiration behind both of my restaurant endeavors, Acre and Bow & Arrow. In reflecting on the past and the present, I would be remiss not to attribute my entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to my craft to those who came before me.
My best memories are those of being with my family as a young boy. Jack Pauline Kennedy—the cattle farmer, the cotton ginner, the chicken farmer, the peanut farmer, the fish farmer, the banker, the restaurateur—lived life to the fullest in Hartford, Alabama. But perhaps most important, he made for a great Grandpa. His ambition and drive were inspiring. When he found himself frustrated with the lack of loan opportunities for farmers, he decided to build his own bank. After noticing a trend of dwindling fish sales at his fisheries, he built a restaurant to supplement the family’s income. Whatever the problem, he’d find its solution.
When we moved to the Texas Hill Country, which is another inspiration for my latest project, Bow & Arrow, I saw the same traits of ambition in the Texan ranchers and cattlemen—equally as hardworking and fearless. The consistent thread between the ranchers, cattlemen, and Grandpa was their respect for stewardship. They always remembered to leave the land better than they found it.
My admiration does not stop with my grandfather. My grandmothers, Mama Jean and BeeBee, bestowed upon me as much influence, leadership, and love. I would not be the chef that I am today had I not spent countless hours of my childhood observing them in the kitchen. These women remained poised and prepared when executing multilayered holiday feasts while corralling a house full of rambunctious grandchildren. My grandmothers loved their families and were pillars in their communities. It is so comforting to see this same form of love and leadership in my wife, Christin. Restaurant life is hard. Long hours, unreasonably high expectations, good and bad reviews, and liabilities at every corner. Her strength and grace constantly remind me to get back up and lead again. She has taken the role of “chef wife” to a new and powerful level.
At Acre, a seemingly simple shovel hangs on the wall near the front door. The blade is painted gold, and the handle is adorned with inspirational quotes and Bible verses from my family. Christin presented it to me as a gift for our groundbreaking ceremony for Acre. I used the same shovel to break ground on Bow & Arrow this past spring. It gives me great hope and peace to know that my restaurants are built on the foundation of those who love us and truly want us to succeed.
I feel both honored and humbled to serve as Guest Editor for the 2018 Harvest issue of Good Grit, and I hope to convey the inspirations of my life through these pages. The seeds of faith that my family and friends have sown for me throughout the years continue to grow and blossom. It is my sincere hope to honor their investment by being a good steward of my business and team. For me, the bounty of the harvest comes daily in the form of investing in my family, in my team, and in my community. This unique opportunity to reach people through food is not lost on me, and to say I am thankful for it would be an understatement. My community raised me as a chef, and this is where Christin and I have committed to planting our crops. May the journey to your own personal harvest be fruitful, intentional, and blessed.