Chef John B. Shields’ father was a playground designer for Little Tikes, but it was he who provided Shields with the inspiration to cook. As a youth, Shields scoured Charlie Trotter’s cookbooks and longed to recreate something of that caliber. He began his foray into the culinary world at the Gateway to the West, St. Louis.
Here he attended culinary school and worked in local restaurants. Shields accepted a position in Tampa Bay, Florida, leading the kitchen at Grande Finale. He soon moved locations, this time to Chicago as sous chef at the Windy City’s renowned restaurant Charlie Trotter’s. After two years, he continued his career in Chicago at Alinea, also as sous chef under Grant Achatz.
Shields was inspired but couldn’t let go of his dream of having the run of his own kitchen. So he packed his bags and moved with his pastry chef wife to Chilhowie, Virginia. Here he works with fellow executive chef and pastry chef Karen Urie Shields to rework culinary Americana and destination dining with inventive flair and distinct panache. The two also run the nearby two-room inn, Riverstead, which they stock with Town House-made snacks for their guests.
Shields also works extensively with local farmers and puts together quarterly fundraising dinners for the Appalachian Sustainable Development organization. He is an avid supporter of healthy eating habits for children and helped raise funds for classes that teach young students how to garden, harvest, and cook produce from the garden. We weren’t the only ones to notice. He was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 2010 Best New Chefs.