2016 Local Food Hero: Tom Gray
NAME Tom Gray
STARTUP STORY Summers in South Carolina at his aunt and uncle’s small farm allowed Tom to see first-hand at a young age what farming was like and how it felt to be connected to the seasons and soil. Later, once he was a cook, Tom had the chance to get to know and purchase from small, specialty farmers and artisan producers in the Los Angeles area, San Diego, New York City and the Napa Valley for the restaurants he worked in. When Tom moved back to Jacksonville in 1999, he continued the tradition, and has never stopped.
WHY LOCAL? “As a chef, I’m always looking for the very best ingredients to serve to my guests and building relationships with people who are passionate about what they do. When an item is grown locally and sustainably, fresh-picked and served within a few hours or days of being harvested, the flavor, color, texture, vibrancy, freshness and nutrient content are all at their peak. Secondly, and just as importantly, by purchasing from our local farmers, specialty growers and food artisans, I’m directly supporting small business enterprises and the families that own them. I’m a small business owner, and when guests choose to dine with us, it means they are directly helping to support all of the people that work in our restaurant, as well as all of the local businesses we buy from. It’s a win-win-win all around.”
RUNNER-UP Daven Wardynski
HONORABLE MENTIONS Alex Yim, Kurt D’Aurizio, Scotty Schwartz, Waylon Rivers, Michael Lugo
For more information about Chef Gray and his restaurant, visit their website at Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails.