Chef Alex Gass | Fire & Salt



Chef Alex Gass grew up in Oak Ridge, inspired by his mother and aunt’s cooking for their church. He started at Big Ed’s Pizza and Aubrey’s. Gass (guitar), Associate Chef Billy Krebs (bass), and his son, Assistant Manager Gabe Krebs (drums), play in the band Entente, which performed at Maryville’s Bird and the Book pub the Friday before his Top Chefs event.

At Fire & Salt, it’s all about family. Almost everyone working at Fire & Salt heard about the job from a family member of Chef Alex Gass or a friend of one. This esprit de corps gives the restaurant a warm and welcoming feel and diners a VIP experience. “That’s the point,” said Jessica Gass, Alex’s wife. “That family feel is what we’re trying to do.”

At the Top Chef dinner, bartender Cassy Davey offered two “welcome” beverages, a classic whiskey sour and a light white wine. Harpist Becky Hook added a touch of elegance with her music. Chef Alex’s dad, Rex, sat with Associate Chef Billy Krebs’ parents, Jeanne and Gary Sanderson. Becky and Jim Dodson were also on hand. The mayor pro-tem of Oak Ridge and a middle school art teacher, Jim once taught Chef Alex and now teaches his daughter, Trinity. 

Top Chefs | Fire & Salt Appetizer

Servers Whitney Moles and Gaby Teston passed the hors d’oeuvres: Caprese salad skewers (mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes, kale pesto and balsamic drizzle); grit chips with house-made pimento cheese, Italian sausage, a crisp bread-and-butter pickle; and focaccia topped with herb cheese and dill pickle. “We pickle everything,” chuckles Chef Alex.

The meal began with a mushroom croquette made with local mushrooms from Extraterrestrial Fungi, goat cheese and panko breadcrumbs, served over a balsamic reduction sprinkled with toasted pecans. It was paired with Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc & Viognier from Clarksburg, California. “The bright notes of the chenin blanc are a delightful balance to the rich and earthy mushroom croquette,” said Chef Alex.

Top Chefs | Fire & Salt Entree

The entrée of King Shepherd’s Lamb—“our play on shepherd’s pie,” said Chef Alex—was a dish of melt-in-your-mouth lamb chops served with Irish potato colcannon, a blend of mashed potatoes and kale. “We added a pea puree to brighten the Irish potatoes up,” said Chef Alex, “and serve it with Guinness gravy.” It was paired with a Domaine Gassier Syrah from Camargue.

Top Chefs | Fire & Salt Dessert

Dessert was a deconstructed Irish Cream cheesecake, a blend of goat cheese, espresso beans, chocolate mousse, white chocolate, and chocolate ganache. This was paired with a Hermandad Red Blend from Argentina. Honestly, he had us at “chocolate ganache.”

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