Fire & Salt Chef and Proprietor Alex Gass grew up in Oak Ridge, helping his aunt, mother, and grandmother feed hundreds at the Kern United Methodist Church. He also cooked with his mother’s catering business and explored the art of smoking meats with his Uncle Jim.
At 12, he worked at a grass-fed organic farm. “That helped me appreciate fresh ingredients,” says Gass. “The farmers that I currently interact with put as much integrity in their growing of food as I do cooking it.”
At 15, Gass started at Big Ed’s Pizza. He opened a couple of Aubrey’s for Randy Burleson, then private cheffed on the road with stars like Elton John, Van Halen, and Widespread Panic. He eventually rejoined Burleson at Bistro by the Tracks, then wowed diners for five years at Walnut Kitchen in Maryville.
Brainstorming names for his new restaurant, Gass recalled wise words that “Simplicity is an arrival point,” which recalled farmers’ wise words that “You don’t need to do too much to good food. It only takes a little fire and salt.” Gass opened Fire & Salt in his hometown in December.
Gass met his wife, Jessica, at Oak Ridge High, where he played alto sax in the band. Their kids are Trinity, 12, and Jasper, 5. Alex now plays bass in the jazz-influenced progressive rock band Entente, with Executive Chef Billy Krebs on guitar and his son Gabe on drums. “We are dedicated to art in general,” says Gass. “Our art goes beyond who we are as humans.”
Appetizer: Smoked salmon with spinach, arugula, olive oil, caper aioli, rosemary & tarragon, and charred bread, paired with Il Monticello Groppolo Vermentino
Entrée: Roasted beef tenderloin, rutabaga pave, mushrooms, shallots, raspberry dijon sauce, and frise, paired with Clay Shannon Cabernet Sauvignon
Dessert: Buttermilk pana cotta
with black walnut granola and apricot chutney, paired with Biutiful Cava Brut Rose