CurEater Tom Gray: Executive Chef and Owner of Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails

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“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.”

Tom Gray gets it. He knows that a great meal isn’t complete without a great drink (or two). If you can source that meal and those drinks close to home, he believes they’re even better. If you want to cook with local, Florida produce, you will use a lot of seafood and citrus. The flavors of Northern Florida influence Gray’s cuisine. Think traditional Southern fare with a blend of Caribbean flavors.  Gray also makes an occasional nod to the West Coast, seeing that he worked in California early in his career. Gray wanted to bring a fun, locally-focused restaurant to his hometown and opened Moxie in 2013.

VIDEO: Make a perfect negroni with Tom Gray

Creating a locally-focused menu requires an expansive knowledge of seasonality, agriculture, and region. For example, Jacksonville’s sandy soil makes some traditional farming practices a challenge. So in the fall, Gray leans heavily on greens and shallow root veggies. “The biggest difference between us and other restaurants in Jacksonville is that we deliver local cuisine,” says Gray. “My advice for any season, any year, is to ‘support local’ and ‘ask questions.’ If you are interested in having a variety of cool, unique places to shop or eat, you have to make a decision to support them,” he told Void.

VIDEO: Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails

If you want to put Gray’s knowledge to work, follow him on Twitter or Facebook. If you want to explore Chef Gray’s Jacksonville or find some incredible tips for West Coast dining find him here on CurEat.