Q&A with The Regional’s Executive Chef, Lindsay Autry

Palm Beach County has a new restaurant in town – The Regional Kitchen & Public House. Located on the outskirts of CityPlace on Okeechobee Boulevard, this new eatery has a classy-yet-hipster vibe and an intimate ambiance, and with a main dining room, private dining room, public house space, and patio, is an ideal space for a night out on the town.

Executive chef Lindsay Autry, who made headlines as a finalist on Bravo TV’s ninth season of “Top Chef,” hails from North Carolina, and her southern roots can be seen in the distinct dishes she creates using a combination of consciously-sourced ingredients and bright, fresh Mediterranean flavors.

The Regional’s menu is divided into four categories: From the Pantry, Green Things, Warm and Soulful, and To Share or Not to Share. From The Pantry includes offerings such as Autry’s scrumptiously-soft Parker house rolls and tangy pickled shrimp while Green Things features picks including crispy scallions with a zesty horseradish sauce and brussels sprouts coated in the restaurant’s signature hot sauce.

The Regional’s Parker House Rolls, served with “everything” butter.

In the menu’s Warm and Soulful section, guests can taste Autry’s southern influences in her fried chicken thighs, served with a sweet-tea brine and bread and butter pickles, and her tomato pie, a cleverly crafted little dish containing roasted tomatoes, sharp cheddar, caramelized onions, and herbs.

Autry’s signature tomato pie.

If you’ve come with a few people, share the tender-yet-flaky sockeye salmon or moist grilled snapper (wrapped in a banana leaf and served tail and all). Better yet, order a serving of Autry’s pimento cheese dip, which is prepared tableside with the restaurant’s housemade club crackers.

Finally, even those with the pickiest of palates will find something to please with The Regional’s dessert menu, which offers up selections like Autry’s grandmother’s coconut cake, a creamy panna cotta, a lemon meringue tart with toasted meringue and rosé sorbet, and a chocolate concotion serving as the restaurant’s unique take on Rocky Road.

The Regional’s lemon meringue tart and Rocky Road dessert bar.

Continue to page 2 for an exclusive Q&A with Autry.

We had the chance to chat with Autry about her new restaurant and what she hopes to bring to Palm Beach County.

PBI: How will The Regional differ from the rest of Palm Beach County’s dining scene?

Autry: At The Regional, we strive to provide a memorable experience that is approachable, comfortable, and makes you feel at home. We have divided our space to have a warm and inviting dining room, a lively pub and lounge, as well as a cozy private dining space in order to offer options to our guests so that they can experience us in many ways.

The Regional’s kitchen pantry.

Explain your farm-to-table philosophy.

I love to create menus and dishes that tell a story. We spend a lot of time sourcing ingredients, getting to know our farmers, artisans, and purveyors and sharing those relationships with our staff so that everyone has an appreciation for our food from the very root of it. We will source as much locally as possible, and we are focusing on regionally-sourced, conscious ingredients, and even reaching into other regions to get the best seasonal, quality products.

What are some of your favorite dishes you’ll be featuring at the restaurant?

I’m excited about the dishes that honor the people whom have influenced my cooking style and there are a few of those on the menu. We will be making a country-style sausage which is my grandfather’s recipe from when he had a butcher shop when I was a child. I also am paying tribute to my amazing grandmother whom was known as the local “cake lady” in her town by having her Coconut Cake recipe by the slice.

When did you first know you wanted to be a chef?

I grew up surrounded by food. My family had a peach orchard where we spent our summers selling peaches and homemade ice cream at a roadside stand.  We preserved our summer harvest by canning and freezing all of the vegetables we grew and utilizing them throughout the year. I started participating in cooking competitions through 4-H when I was nine, and really fell in love with cooking.  While attending Johnson & Wales University in Charleston and Miami, I worked in a variety of restaurants and hotels to gain experience.

As a North Carolina native, how do your roots influence your cuisine?

The older I get, the more I tend to get back to my roots. The Regional is a combination of many influences through my experience over the years, but is has a subtle Southern accent, just like me.

How did your experience on Top Chef influence your cooking?

I wouldn’t say that Top Chef influenced my cooking, but it did help me realize where my cuisine was starting to have its own identity. The best part for me was having Chefs that I admired for many years give me genuine feedback.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Ah, I wish I could say something crazy like sky-diving, but honestly if I am not in the kitchen, you can find me wandering the aisles of TJ Maxx.

What is your “guilty pleasure” meal?

Cheeseburger – extra everything, especially pickles and jalapenos

What kind of seasonal offerings will your menu feature?

Since we’re opening at the end of summer, you can expect to find fresh field peas, local okra, end-of-summer tomatoes, and dishes inspired by those last, long summer days.

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