A terrific honor bestowed upon Big Grove Brewery Head Chef Ben Smart as Plate Magazine has named him to the “Chefs to Watch in 2016” list. To make it on the national culinary scene while being based in small town Solon, IA shows the talent and skill that Chef Smart has.
To be able to make the 10 minute drive from my home in Mt. Vernon to Solon and visit Big Grove and to try Chef Smart’s dishes is a treat. For him to be able to hit the national stage of the culinary world can only be a good thing for other chefs and restaurants in the state of Iowa. I love the quote that Chef Smart gave about the reason for coming back to Iowa:
“I want to create a sustainable life for myself, take the morals I learned growing up on the farm and apply them to where I work,” he says. “I definitely like to develop relationships with local farmers; you can’t cook great food without great ingredients. Doug and I have learned a lot about how people eat in New York, Chicago and Napa, and the focus on local and seasonal ingredients. That was underutilized in Iowa. It was one of those moments in life where you roll the dice and go for it.”
For most of us, Big Grove Brewery isn’t a hidden treasure any more, unless you haven’t visited, which shame on you. It’s a weekend dinner with family, it’s after church lunch, it’s a place to grab a few beers and appetizers with some buddies and watch the game, but for others outside of Iowa, this accomplishment will be bring more national notoriety and those folks on the outside of Iowa will find that great things can happen in small places. Cheers to Chef Ben and Big Grove, amazing!!
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