Samuel Etheridge

Owner and Chef

Photo by Lynne Harty

What is your favorite part of being a restaurant owner in Asheville?

The people are by far my favorite part of owning a restaurant in Asheville. Being away from downtown, we are a much more local place that relies on the neighborhood as our customer base. We have so many people that we see several times a week or every week that we know very well and have become close with. I live down the street from the restaurant and feel very connected to North Asheville and the people. Of course, we welcome people from out of town as well and folks from other areas of Asheville, but we feel like we are the Cheers of North Asheville because of our regular customers. 

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

I previously had a restaurant called Ambrozia Cafe and Wine Bar in Albuquerque, NM that I absolutely loved. When I was opening here, I had kicked around other names, but came back to Ambrozia because it was just my identity as a Chef and restaurant owner. I originally came up with the name because it means Food of the Gods and also added as southern touch with the salad of the same name. The Z was added to represent the Zia symbol of New Mexico.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Salt is the simple answer, but the most true. You really can’t cook tasty food without salt. I once put up a sign in a previous restaurant that said, “Every ******* thing in this restaurant gets salt”.

What is your favorite dish on your menu?

We change the menu a lot, so my favorite changes quite a bit. One of our staples that we always have because I like so much is our Bison short rib. The meat is from Carolina Bison, braised in red wine, served with the best local mushrooms we can find at the time and a faux risotto made with grated cauliflower.

What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR member?

This is a hard question because there are so many great restaurants in Asheville, and honestly, I don’t get out much. I love everything from Bhramari, Limones, Buxton Hall, Zambra, and Copper Crown to name a few. But my favorite dish is probably the house-made hot dog from Foothill’s. It is just the perfect dog. 

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

I grew up in East Tennessee and my family and I were looking to move back from New Mexico to be closer to family. We traveled around the southeast looking at cities and fell in love with Asheville. It had everything we wanted to raise a family and a great food scene that was just starting to take off. 

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

Chef’s knife would be my favorite kitchen tool. Everything else is replaceable, but you need a great chef’s knife that you love.