Growing up in St. Petersburg, FL, Brian Baxter learned to cook at an early age. His mother ran a daycare center from their home, and he spent his time following her every move – cooking, baking, and gardening. As he got older, Baxter says, food became something he couldn’t stop reading about and his passion continued to grow. After starting his culinary career as a banquet and line cook at the former St. Petersburg favorite The Wine Cellar, Baxter was accepted to The Culinary Institute of America’s Culinary Arts program in Hyde Park, NY.
While in school, he furthered his education with an externship in New York City at Beacon working under Chef Waldy Malouf. Fortunately for Baxter, the restaurant was short staffed that summer and he had the opportunity to work and cook more than a typical extern. Baxter describes the experience as intense, but it taught him the pressure of working in a kitchen early on and left him with an incredible work ethic and drive.
After graduation, Baxter returned to Florida to cook at Todd English’s bluezoo at Disney World’s Dolphin resort and worked his way up from cook to junior sous chef. In 2008, Baxter had the opportunity to stage at McCrady’s in Charleston, SC, and says it was one of the highlights of his career. When Baxter received a job opportunity at a high-profile New York restaurant in 2011, he chose instead to head back to Charleston to work under Chef Sean Brock and Chef de Cuisine Jeremiah Langhorne at McCrady’s as chef de partie. Baxter was inspired by Chef Brock’s involvement in the kitchen and his passion for product and ingredients. “I learned more in my first six months there than I had in the first six years of my career,” says Baxter.
After a year and a half, Baxter left Charleston for Tennessee when he was tapped to serve as sous chef on Husk Nashville’s opening team. In 2014, Baxter was promoted to chef de cuisine. Baxter says he loves seeing the look on his guests’ faces when they try something new and delicious. A former football player, he relates the intensity on the field to that of the kitchen and says the teamwork and passion needed is the same. When he’s not in the kitchen, you can find Baxter with a good book or foraging Tennessee wildlife.
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