Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen

Richard Gras

Chef de Cuisine

 

Photo by Lynne Harty

What is your favorite part of being a Exec Chef in Asheville?

My favorite part of being an Exec Chef in Asheville is having the ability to work very closely with local farmers and really pushing locally sourced seasonal menus. It inspires me to go to these farms and really get to know the people and passion behind food they are producing for our restaurants. I also love the food scene here. There are a lot of great chefs doing some really great food here and it keeps me pushing myself.

What is the background of EDISON, craft ales + kitchen’s name?

EDISON is named in honor of Thomas Edison. He, along with Ford, and Firestone called themselves The Vagabonds and took off from Grove Park starting in 1915 for their “glamping” adventures into the Blue Ridge Mountains. We honor the innovative spirit of Edison in the way we build the menu for the restaurant. There is always a new way to approach a dish.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Vinegar, I use a lot of different varieties of vinegars.  I love the way vinegar can take a dish or sauce and elevate it to a completely different level.  We use about 12 different vinegars in the restaurants and we have 3 vinegars that we are making in the restaurant. 

What is your favorite dish on your new menu?

My favorite dish on this EDISON menu would be ivy creek beets, yogurt, tamarind, pistachio, and garden herbs.  This dish utilizes beautiful beets from Ivy creek Farm, yogurt that has been infused with garlic and chili, tamarind vinaigrette (yes we have a tamarind vinegar) which just adds sour and sweet to the dish, pistachios which we candy in a very clever way, and lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lovage from our garden on property.  Just a simple, beautiful, flavorful dish.

What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR restaurant’s menu?

My favorite dish is the Rabbit terrine at Vivian.  Truly impressive dish.. their terrine is flawless and the accompaniment accents the dish perfectly.

Why did you choose to work in Asheville?

I chose Asheville because I had vacationed here for about 3 years and just loved the area and vibe that was here.  The restaurants, breweries, food culture, and people also attracted me to coming back.  Then I got the ability to come to The Grove Park Inn and I jumped on the opportunity immediately.

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

I have two custom left handed kikuichi knives.  One is a Kiritsuke and the other is a Sujihiki.  I had these made for me about 10 years ago from Japan when I was cooking in California.  Being a left handed chef it was very hard to find knives that would fit me perfectly because most chefs are right handed.  I use these every day.  From brunoising to fileting fish, they are my absolute favorite kitchen tool.