An Industry Insider’s Look at Foodservice Today and a Few Allergen-Free Recipes

We recently hosted Chef Young of Tupelo Honey Café, Knoxville in the Chef Supplies by KaTom Demonstration Kitchen for a community cooking class. He came armed with a host of recipes geared to those with specific dietary needs and food allergies. It was a night chockfull of helpful tips and tricks for the home entertainer or foodservice professional. Before things really heated up in the kitchen, I was able to steal a few minutes of Chef Young’s time to learn a little bit about his background and his road to Tupelo Honey.

Growing up in a family with 46 grandchildren, Chef Young is no stranger to cooking for a crowd. Now a father to three young children of his own, he’s passing on his love for the craft to his kiddos ages three, six, and seven. Whether he’s whipping up a meal of pasta for the family or working on service for 100, Chef Anthony Young promises that it’s hard work and his passion for food that’s gotten him this far in the business.

A Quick Chat with Chef Young

Chelsea – How did you get into the culinary field?

Chef Young – It started out when I was younger. My mom and grandfather were always cooking for a big crowd. When I was in high school I bussed tables and just fell in love with the restaurant business. I went to college for engineering and business but paid my way by keeping a job in foodservice. At one point, I was going to school and working in three restaurants. Eventually, I ended up completing 6 months of culinary school in Ohio, dropped out, and headed to Tennessee. I started out in Tennessee at Connor’s – a casual concept – and stayed with the company, as they became a steak and seafood restaurant. After that I took the opportunity to become the Demi Chef at Tupelo Honey Café in Knoxville and was fast tracked to Chef de Cuisine. It’s my passion.

Chelsea – How would you describe your cooking style?

Chef Young – My wife and I only go shopping once a week. We just make do with what’s in the cabinets. You just have to make it work. I rely on garlic heavily but by the end of the week it’s all about creativity and finding inspiration from what you have.

Chelsea – So, beside garlic, what’s your go-to in the kitchen?

Chef Young – I can make anything with garlic, salt, flour, and eggs.

Chelsea – As a chef, what’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn so far?

Chef Young – This is a tough industry. The stress of the entire thing can be overwhelming. Working in a kitchen and actually running one yourself are very different things. It’s not for people who give up easily.

Chelsea – Taking a look at the industry today, what do you think? What do you really love and what would you leave behind?

Chef Young – I think the industry is headed in a really great direction. Chefs are keeping with the classics but really developing the taste. Elevating the classics has been a focus for the past five years and it looks like it’s a trend that’s here to stay for a while. The one thing I do dislike – not hate – is the lack of passion. Some people getting into the industry think it’s going to be easy and it just isn’t.

Chelsea – When you look at industry trends, what do you think? How are you responding to all the new dietary preferences and allergy concerns?

Chef Young – I didn’t really know much about the allergy issues until I moved down to Tennessee from Ohio. It seems to be more prominent here. In my opinion, I think it stems from all the additives and chemicals people are putting into their bodies. It seems to be making them intolerant to a lot. Tupelo is really in tune with it. We have separate fryers for peanut oil and seafood, separate cutting boards for gluten, soy, and dairy, and are very careful with these requests. We make 90% of what hits the plate in-house and know exactly what is going into our food.

Chelsea – It’s Friday night and the tension is high. What’s the culture like in your kitchen?

Chef Young – Fun. We have a ton of fun. I don’t do the Hell’s Kitchen style. I don’t operate well in that kind of environment and I don’t expect others to either. We sing. Well, we try to. Sometimes it’s Disney and sometimes it’s boy bands. Really, it comes down to whatever gets everyone going. We get down to business when it’s time but we have fun.

Cooking Class Prep with Chef Anthony Young

Chef Anthony Young’s Recipes

salmon filetsIngredients

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 filets of salmon
  • 1 ounce butter
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1. Combine maple syrup with dijon and mix well
  • 2. Season salmon filets with salt and pepper then set aside and allow to come to room temperature
  • 3. Place 1 ounce of butter into a sauté pan on medium heat
  • 4. When butter is liquified but not smoking, place salmon into the pan flash side down
  • 5. Cook for 1-2 minutes
  • 6. Flip salmon onto skin side and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes
  • 7. Brush the top of the salmon with prepared dijon mixture and place into oven on broil setting for 2-3 minutes
  • 8. Remove from oven and plate

This recipe should be served over rice with mango-pineapple relish.

Fruit salsa on fish

  • 1 mango, diced 1/2-inch
  • 1 pineapple, diced 1/2-inch
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly julienne
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced 1/2-inch
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar


  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Let stand for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Pan of raw nectarines

  • 3 nectarines, halved and pitted
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pinch salt


  • 1. Place nectarines on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 10 minutes
  • 2. While baking, mix together maple syrup, honey, and brown sugar
  • 3. Remove nectarines from the oven and brush with the maple syrup mixture
  • 4. Return to oven for 3-5 minutes
  • 5. Remove from oven, top with a pinch of salt, and serve

Bowl of Candied Walnuts

  • 1 pound of walnut halves
  • 1 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  • 1. Combine maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and oil in a large mixing bowl.
  • 2. Add walnut halves and toss together.
  • 3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until desired toast is achieved.
  • 4. Let cool at room temperature.

Ice Cream Made with Coconut Milk

  • 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 15-ounce can cream of coconut
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded


  • 1. Set aside 1/4 cup of coconut milk and mix with cornstarch until fully dissolved.
  • 2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and gradually bring to a low boil. Whisk thoroughly to avoid any clumping.
  • 3. Add coconut milk/cornstarch mixture to boiling mixture and continue to cook for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • 4. Remove pot from heat and allow to sit until room temperature.
  • 5. Pour entirety of ingredients into your KitchenAid ice cream maker and allow to churn until frozen.
  • 6. After churning is complete, transfer to a medium-sized container and allow to set up in freezer for 3 hours.

Interested in visiting Tupelo Honey Café? For more information on visiting one of the Tupelo Honey Café locations, visit www.TupeloHoneyCafé.com.

Chelsea B. Sanz
Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea Sanz has lived in East Tennessee since her family moved here from South Florida just before she started high school. While she initially begrudged her new home state, she eventually realized she had come to not only love it, but to “bleed orange” as University of Tennessee Volunteers fans here like to say. She and her boyfriend Hunter, a trail worker for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy exploring the nation’s most visited national park and coming up with their own farm-to-table recipes.