All chef Greg Collier can do is wait; June will change his life — in more ways than one.
He’s poised to potentially become the first Charlotte chef to win a James Beard Award. He’s the first ever in the Queen City to advance to the prestigious award’s final round, after three consecutive nominations.
“I’ve done everything I think I can as a chef, as the cook, as a Black man, as a husband. From a restaurant perspective and a food perspective there’s not much more I can do,” Collier says.
The winners will be announced on June 13 in Chicago — just weeks before Collier and wife Subrina welcome their first child.
“Winning the award would be great, but I think this year, maybe next year with the baby coming — and all the stuff we’ve got going on, I’m about to enter a different phase,” he says.
It’s been 20 years since he started his career as a dishwasher. Collier worked his way up through the ranks.
“I lean toward the passion and the willingness to sacrifice more than I would the talent. I think I have some talent,” he says.
He attended culinary school at Scottsdale Community College — home of the Artichokes — after his financial aid to Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts college fell through.
Collier and Subrina have taken the Charlotte market by storm since opening their first restaurant, The Yolk, in Rock Hill 2012.
Today, they operate the highly acclaimed modern juke joint Leah & Louise at Camp North End. That restaurant opened in June 2020 after Covid delays.
Their fast-growing BayHaven Restaurant Group has four other concepts in the works at Camp North End as well as a soon-to-open South End location of Uptown Yolk. BayHaven will launch more restaurants over the next decade while highlighting Charlotte’s Black culinary scene through events such as the BayHaven Food and Wine Festival.
The Colliers are focused on creating opportunities, highlighting the need for funding for Black-owned concepts and leveraging their own experience and talents to help others succeed.
Collier recently spoke with the Charlotte Business Journal about being a James Beard finalist, his growing restaurant portfolio and the Black culinary scene. Read the full interview here.
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