Chef Q&A: Greg Richie, Soco Thornton Park

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Greg Richie is the Executive Chef Soco Thornton Park. This critically acclaimed restaurant specializes in contemporary Southern cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients.

If you could travel anywhere in the world to eat for one week, where would it be and why? That’s a tough one. Japan, probably. I’ve been lots of places, but never there.

Who had the biggest influence on the way you cook, and why? Outside of my familial influences, Chef Roy Yamaguchi had the biggest impact on me in terms of knowledge, execution and vision.

What’s the one type of traditional cuisine that you always wished you could prepare, and why? If I want to make a thing, I will. I’m grateful to be able to cook whatever I’d like.

If you weren’t a chef, what would your dream job be? Travel the world and be paid to eat and talk about the foods and cultures I encountered. That’s been done before, right?

What advice would you share with chefs just beginning their careers? Make sure that you are truly passionate about this because it’s a very challenging career choice and your success depends on countless different factors.

If you could change one thing about Orlando’s food scene, what would it be? I would change what many outsiders think of us, that we are a whole bunch of chain restaurants. Or beyond that, when visitors come here they get away from the parks and visit the real Orlando.

What was it like for you when Florida restaurants were in lockdown? When we were in lockdown, my primary concern was keeping as much of our staff employed and working as possible. Then it became a matter of reaching our guests in new ways. Cooking street side on the corner, creating family-style pickup meal options — stuff like that.

For more Chef Q&A’s, visit our archives.

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