My passion for cooking began when I was much younger, while watching my grandmother prepare her memorable homemade meals. Though many people still consider me to be very young, I have 17 years of professional cooking experience. My two-year culinary degree from Louisville Kentucky’s Sullivan University was coupled with a rewarding experience at the James Beard Award Winning restaurant, Azalea.
In 2007, I was presented with the opportunity to relocate to a quaint town just north of Charleston, SC in Summerville. The prestige and intricacy that went into every course at the Woodlands Resort was humbling. My desire to learn provided the motivation to pursue a “sugar-blowing” class taught by world-renowned Ewald Notter as well as an unforgettable apprenticeship in Portland Maine at the Browne Trading Company; one of the highest regarded seafood purveyors in the country.
In an attempt to learn as much as I possibly could during a time in my life that allowed for such traveling, I (call me crazy) worked for free at many restaurants nationwide: French Laundry – Yountville, CA; La Follie - San Francisco; Blackberry Farms – Wallard, TN; Green Brier – White Sulfur Springs, WV; Duquesne Club - Pittsburg, PA; Osteria - Philadelphia, PA; Lola – Cleveland; Hugo’s – Portland, Maine; Ritz Carlton, Buckhead - Atlanta, GA; Joel – Atlanta, GA. The bond with my family and friends was strong, so I returned back home to become the sous chef at Brookside Country Club. I was fortunate enough to be offered an opportunity to pursue the executive chef position at Gervasi and haven’t looked back. In 2011, I was the proud recipient of the American Culinary Federation Akron/Canton Chapter Restaurant Chef of the Year award.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family, close friends, and respectable colleagues. Currently, I am tasked with managing four kitchens; soon to be five in 2013. I manage a staff of 30 dynamic cooks and eight hard-working dishwashers. I am very proud of my career and thankful to be such an integral part of Gervasi.
- Jerry Risner
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