Lessons Learned So Far

LESSONS LEARNED SO FAR

By Josh Smouse
 

 
 Chef Josh Smouse created Victory Hemp Salad, which uses several Kentucky-grown foods, such as salad greens, pecans and hemp hearts. 

Chef Josh Smouse created Victory Hemp Salad, which uses several Kentucky-grown foods, such as salad greens, pecans and hemp hearts. 

 

Without question, the process of opening Honeywood has become the greatest learning experience of my life. I’m fortunate to be working with Ouita, Chris and Roger, whose vision of operating restaurants is to celebrate the flavors from Kentucky’s small farms and producers, and to celebrate the value of those farmers’ contribution to our local economy and culture. So I’ve been thinking, what have I done to deserve such an opportunity?

Like most chefs, I have a cumbersome cookbook collection. I have well-made Japanese knives, and endless ideas of how restaurants could create a better experience for their diners. I know how to make good food.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked every job in a restaurant and catering kitchen. I have cooked for a few and for hundreds. I enjoy meeting and bringing up young chefs, and swapping stories with more experienced chefs.

My working life has been dedicated to growing in my craft: becoming more knowledgeable, more skilled, more efficient and more effective at communication. But the lesson I am learning now is humility. Am I qualified to help manage a 150-seat restaurant? Yes. Do I deserve a brand new restaurant in a cutting edge campus with a farmer on staff? No.

What I do know is that I, too, share Ouita, Chris and Roger’s vision, that Kentucky farmers are one of our state’s greatest treasures. The food they produce is second to none. Our Honeywood team is creating a dining experience with a delicious menu and hospitality that will, as Ouita says, plant the flag for Kentucky at the Summit at Fritz Farm. 

I will consider Honeywood successful if it is open 20 years from now and no one can remember the name of the chef who helped open it. I am one of many stewards of the vision that Ouita, Chris and Roger had 16 years ago with their first restaurant, the Holly Hill Inn. Honeywood is the manifestation of the tremendous sacrifice that the managing partners and every single person employed by this group has made.