With a culinary career encapsulating both fine dining and approachable, everyday cuisine, Executive Chef of The Preacher’s Son Neal Gray spent a large portion of his career honing his craft and culinary philosophy.
His passion for cooking first ignited while working at a restaurant during his high school and early college years in his hometown of Malvern, Arkansas. He received an associate degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University’s Virginia campus followed by a Bachelor of Science in Foodservice Entrepreneurship from the university’s Providence Campus in Rhode Island.
His impressive career is built from experience at world-class restaurants including The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia, the highly prestigious French Laundry in California and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, New York. Additionally, he has worked at numerous notable New York City restaurants, including Simon & the Whale and the former Bar Sardine. His history of experience with fine dining allowed him to refine his craft and technical skills, which he translates into a more accessible form of dining. “I like showcasing seasonal ingredients in a way that’s somewhat restrained and casual, allowing great food to shine without feeling manipulated or overworked,” he says. His culinary style can be summarized as casual, understated elegance.
Chef Gray’s mentors, including Gabe Stulman, founder of the Happy Cooking Hospitality restaurant group, and Dan Barber, chef/co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, have impacted not only his cooking style but the way he leads. As Executive Chef of The Preacher’s Son, his professional approach is multifaceted. In addition to creating menus that honor the ingredients, he endeavors to train and mentor his staff with professional growth in mind. His method not only empowers his team but also provides an excellent guest experience.
When he’s not in the kitchen, Chef Gray enjoys spending time with his wife Danielle and their young son, Jasper.