When Lindsay Autry isn’t in the kitchen of her West Palm Beach restaurant—The Regional Kitchen & Public House—the three-time James Beard Award–nominated chef is helping fight food insecurity in South Florida.
As one of Palm Beach County’s most highly regarded chefs, Autry says it’s not just about the food she’s putting on a plate, but rather the lives she’s impacting through her culinary craft. “I think a lot of success is dependent upon what you give to others,” she says. “If you give well to others, then your community will give back to you.”
Autry has spent more than a decade giving in Palm Beach County, helping raise money for organizations that feed some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Most recently, however, Autry has teamed up with Feeding South Florida for what might be her most special philanthropic project yet: cooking up an entire curriculum for a culinary training program that gives people in need a chance to learn in a state-of-the-art kitchen and receive job placement assistance.
The 16-week program touches on everything from knife skills and kitchen safety to food preparation and classical cuisine. It even includes professional development lessons like how to write a resume and how to prepare for a job interview. “It offers those who aren’t able to afford going to a university or college an opportunity to learn a real trade and skill and then enter our workforce and make our dining and hospitality industry here in Palm Beach County even better,” Autry says.
Autry’s own entrance into the culinary world started when she was just a little girl picking peaches on her family’s orchard in North Carolina. She began entering cooking competitions at age 9 and eventually went on to graduate with a culinary degree from industry-leader Johnson & Wales University. Since then, Autry has made her way into the kitchens of several prominent restaurants along the East Coast—and into the finals on Bravo TV’s hit show Top Chef.
Still, Autry admits there’s always been a piece of her that wanted to be more impactful, and creating this new curriculum for neighbors in need is helping to satisfy that craving. “I just want to continue to give back in a meaningful way,” she says. “What we did with Feeding South Florida was something that felt more meaningful to me than what I’d done before. A lot of the community work I’ve done has been more on a fundraising level. This was an opportunity for me to touch people’s lives in a real way.”