The Walnut Kitchen
Down on High Street in Maryville, you will find The Walnut Kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant serving up locally grown produce and Tennessee beef. There inside, building the menu with a musical flair, is Chef Alex Gass, an Oak Ridge native.
While it might not be obvious, Gass didn’t grow up envisioning a life in the culinary industry; he wanted to be a musician. However, his mother ran a catering business, and while he didn’t recognize it then, his life in the culinary arts had already begun. “I was trained to be a chef my whole life through my mother and all of these other instances,” he says. “With the acceptance of that and wanting to pursue something in the arts, I took off with it and made it my thing.” He approaches cooking just as he does music: blending emotion and energy to create something people love.
The tunes are high as he looks at a sample of
everything coming off of the farm to create his menus. “It becomes my paint palette as I try to figure out the best ways to match the ingredients to bring the best product to the table,” he says.
With a love of the Cherokee purple tomato—a product that made him realize the beauty in a raw vegetable, thanks to his grandmother—Gass creates menus with the hope of building connections with guests. When not in the restaurant, or preparing a menu for Top Chefs, Gass can be found enjoying time with his wife and children.
Simpson’s Dry Aged Filet
— 2ND PLACE WINNER —
Served with a Celeriac Puree, Braised Leeks, Hot Sauce Reduction, Honey Garlic Blue Cheese Compound Butter, and House Gravy.
Cream Sickle Panna Cotta
Made with Orange Peel Jam, Buttermilk Panna Cotta, and Candied Orange Peels, and served with Orange Supreme.