How Eric Gabrynowicz gave Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar a menu refresh while staying true to its roots

The VP of culinary, a transplanted New Yorker, executes a menu lineup that works as well in the Midwest as it does in the South.
Fried green tomatoes
Chef Gabrynowicz elevates the presentation of fried green tomatoes, a Southern staple. | Photos courtesy of Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar.

Eric Gabrynowicz, vice president of culinary for Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar, fell in love with knives and fire when he worked in a restaurant kitchen as a teenager.

From there, he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, worked for Danny Meyer at Union Square Cafe and Blue Smoke, and eventually helmed his own kitchen at North Restaurant in Westchester County, N.Y.

Eric Gabrynowicz
Chef Eric Gabrynowicz

But Gabrynowicz has always been obsessed with the flavors and passion that go into Southern food. When he landed at Tupelo Honey, he wanted to preserve the Southern signatures that built the restaurant’s reputation, but reinvigorate both the food and bar menu with elevated ingredients, techniques and presentation, and add his own culinary stamp.

The polished-casual concept now has 23 locations across the U.S., but the menu plays as well in Idaho and Indianapolis as it does in Georgia and North Carolina—the state where it all started. Listen as Chef Gabrynowicz describes how he has brought Tupelo’s Southern menu to new heights but learned not to mess with favorites like the mac and cheese, how the refreshed food and drink lineup has boosted sales and profits, and why he is so committed to bringing an end to childhood hunger.

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