Catching Fire 11

Ruth’s Chris’ New Chef Pete Repak Fires Up the Grill

Chef Pete Repak’s career has spanned the country, but his favorite place thus far? “Asheville is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. I’m not leaving,” he proclaims with his signature brand of brash honesty.

The fact that Repak has chosen Asheville as his forever home is most definitely to our benefit. As the new Executive Chef at Biltmore Village’s Ruth’s Chris, he’s at the forefront of Asheville’s food scene. The classic dishes that come out of Repak’s kitchen are infused with his passion and pure ardor for the art of food.

That zeal for cooking was passed down through generations. “My passion for food came from hanging onto the apron strings of my Russian grandmother—a rubenesque woman with a nose like a grapefruit but a heart of gold,” Repak laughs. “For her, cooking was simply an extension of her love.” That taste of love is something you can still find in Repak’s dishes today.

Repak may have spent his childhood toddling around a home kitchen, but the past several decades have found him honing his culinary skills in some of the best restaurants in one of America’s acclaimed foodtopias, Chicago. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, Repak worked with legends like Dean Fearing at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and Charlie Trotter at his namesake restaurant. Climbing quickly up the allegorical ladder, Repak gained experience as an Executive Chef at the Congress Plaza Hotel, through launching his own successful enterprise The Urban Fridge, and as the spearheading Executive Chef behind a variety of ventures like DryHop Brewers and Grassroots Restaurant.

Which brings us back to Asheville. Repak’s gusto for Asheville isn’t just indicative of our friendly folks and beautiful landscape, it’s a testament to our burgeoning food scene—especially the plethora of local produce and artisan producers. “I hate the fact that sports stars make millions of dollars for so few performances. We should be worshiping our farmers and artisan food producers. I like cheese a lot more than I like basketball!” he says with a wry smile.

Take a page out of Repak’s (recipe) book: pick up some local veggies, a good steak and a nice bottle of wine and fire up the grill.