The prodigal chefs come home
Lured by affordable rents, access to abundant agricultural assets, and the ever-important quality of life, chefs increasingly have been swapping the big cities where they rose to prominence for a little place called home.
Steven Gedra has worked in Boston, Nantucket, Colorado, and New Mexico and cooked alongside chefs like Le Bernardin's Eric Ripert and French Laundry pioneer Thomas Keller. But when it came time to open his own restaurant, it was Buffalo that made the most sense. Recently named a 2017 James Beard Award Semi-Finalist for Best Chef: Northeast, Gedra followed the now-familiar tack of returning to his hometown to set up shop -- even if the move stunned his big-city contemporaries.
"We moved back seven years ago because we didn't need a moneyed investor to get started," says the chef, who runs the progressive farm-to-table eatery The Black Sheep. "You go to the big cities to learn your trade, but then realize what it would cost to open your own place. I had to explain to all my friends back in Boston why the hell I was buying a restaurant in Buffalo, but they've never been here, they don't get why we choose to live here."