Chef Randy Lewis has been professionally crafting in the kitchen for over 30 years. A native of New Orleans, Lewis’ innate and singular talent has been the adept use of local ingredients, masterfully integrating and transforming his native southern bounty into delicious, unexpected creations. As a fourth-generation Lousianian, Lewis spent his youth in the family kitchen learning Creole culinary traditions while incorporating fresh, organic ingredients from his Mother’s garden. Family trips to visit Cajun relatives in the bayou regions of the state completed this first education as he got to know Creole’s more rustic sister, world-renowned Cajun cuisine up close and personal as well. Lewis’ passion for food and distinct flavors further evolved during family “eating” vacations to Europe while in his teens.
As he moved toward the professional track, Chef Lewis trained at the acclaimed New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. Early in his career, he was inspired by the unique “New World Cuisine” creations of chef/owner Norman Van Aiken in South Florida. After the stint at Norman’s, Randy returned home and opened his first restaurant, Indigo, where he thrived at bringing delicious, soulful and sustainable food to his tables. At Indigo, Lewis was hailed for serving up surprising new facets of southern cuisine and uncovering the excitement found in under-appreciated regional ingredients. His restaurant was named “Best in New Orleans” and “Most Splurge-Worthy” by Bon Appétit magazine. In its four-bean review of Indigo, the local Times-Picayune heralded “Lewis has a gift for the unexpected”. His most distinguished honor while leading Indigo was to be named one of top 10 “Best New Chefs” in the United States by Food & Wine magazine in 2001.
Ever moving forward with his culinary ambitions, Randy was lured next to California’s wine country. He began his journey in Sonoma, as Executive Chef of Jackson Family Wines, where he cooked daily with magical ingredients grown onsite in acres of organic gardens. While cooking in the wine country, Randy also pursued his interest in the art of wine and food pairing. In 2003, Lewis received his first coveted invitation to cook a featured dinner at the James Beard House in New York where he served eight courses of heirloom tomato creations, each expertly wine-paired. Several years later in Sonoma County, he opened Popina restaurant and earned a three-star review from Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle’s along with a perfect four-star review from Wine County’s Jeff Cox. In his over thirteen years of experience in the Bay Area, Chef Lewis has taken the helm at several other restaurants and also consulted throughout The Bay Area. His food has always been met with critical acclaim and recived multiple awards, such as, a Michelin’s Bib Gourmand, three-three-stars from Michael Bauer. As well as donned an “uber-chef” and called “one of the best chefs in the Bay Area” by Mr. Bauer.
Always eager to expand his education in other regions and abroad, Lewis has traveled and worked throughout the States, Europe and Asia on multiple occasions to explore and to train culinary professionals on his locavore-inspired cuisine. He filmed and appeared in four episodes of Ready, Set, Cook on the Food Network. On the high seas, he served as a celebrity chef for Holland America’s Culinary Arts Center program and was the guest chef aboard the luxurious Crystal Cruise’s Crystal Harmony in Alaska. He has participated as a chef in many important food and wine festivals, to include the Aspen Food and Wine Classic, the Toronto Film Festival and the Cayman Island Food and Wine. Randy was a featured chef in the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner Series in St. Louis, MO. Finally, since 2001, Randy’s talents have been touted in numerous food and lifestyle publications. Chef Lewis was recognized by the prestigious Food Arts Magazine as one of five ‘American Chefs re-defining America’s regional cuisine of the future and, most recently, he is one of the chefs referenced in Culinary Intelligence: The Art of Eating Healthy (and Really Well) by Peter Kaminsky (Knopf/Publisher 2012).
In 2014, Randy was lured to return South to be close to his family and opening Executive Chef of Gypsy Kitchen and The Southern Gentleman. In the first few months of opening, both restaurants were chosen in Jezebel Magazine’s “Top 100 Hottest restaurants 2015’ coming in at number 3 and 9. This year he opened The Ashford and has created another outstanding restaurant with an exceptional menu.