Josh Smouse, executive chef

From cooking tortillas in family-friendly eateries to poaching halibut in butter at a 3-star Michelin restaurant, Josh Smouse discovered how good restaurants become great.

“Restaurants that value customer service, great food and genuine hospitality are where I want to be,” Smouse said. “That’s why I’m working with Ouita.”

Bluegrass restaurateur Ouita Michel hired Smouse as executive chef at Honeywood at The Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington.

Why did Michel choose Smouse to head Honeywood? Because he makes great food.

"Josh wants his guests to be happy and feel good when they eat his food," Ouita said. "Making people happy is what it's all about.”

Smouse earned his culinary degree at Sullivan University. He has cooked in and managed kitchens at restaurants in Chicago, Indiana, Louisville and Bardstown over the last 15 years. His first stint at Holly Hill with Ouita was after he earned an accounting degree at the University of Kentucky. He worked full time for the state auditor and cooked weekends at Holly Hill. He realized his heart was in the kitchen.

The food served at Honeywood is fresh, locally sourced when possible, and creatively prepared but with a strong nod to Kentucky’s food traditions. 

For example, Honeywood uses cast iron skillets from Michel’s friend Jim Nance and sears all steaks in the 100-year-old cast iron with duck fat.

Part of Smouse’s philosophy is cooking to serve the customer but also the food. For example, his goal with the Honeywood steak entree is to "serve the beef," in that the garnishes — potatoes roasted in duck fat, braised shallots, preserved lemon, roasted garlic and herb butter— complement the beef through texture or flavor.

Smouse has been touring several Kentucky Proud farms, finding that the farmers are exceeding his expectations in the vegetables, fruits and meats they produce.

“Beautiful product and passionate purveyors make my job so much easier,” Smouse said. “I think people are going to love Honeywood.”

Smouse lives in Lexington with his wife, Megan Penrod, daughter and puppy, Johnny.