Bill Greene of Artisanal - Biography

Asheville, NC

November 2013

Chef Bill Greene got the heck out of Banner Elk, North Carolina, after high school. He never envisioned returning. But sometimes life forces you to make tough choices that you could never anticipate. Greene attended the Culinary Institute of America and worked in high-caliber kitchens, including Le Cirque in New York City.

When his mother was stricken with cancer, Greene came home—a decision that altered the course of his life and the course of fine-dining in North Carolina. He took care of his mother for the last year of her life, and got a job at one of the region’s many elite country clubs. For the off-season, Greene got a job at Charlotte restaurant Upstream. Through a connection at work, he met his wife, Anita. Together they moved back to Banner Elk—the Christmas tree capital of the world—and opened a restaurant in a strip mall.

Situated in the Smoky Mountains, the year-round population of Banner Elk is 1,200. It swells to 35,000 during the summer. One of Greene’s seasonal guests liked his touch in the kitchen so much that he agreed to back him in opening Greene’s dream restaurant: a rustic cathedral to Carolina cuisine, Artisanal. Guests swoop in on helicopter to get a seat at Artisanal. But it’s not the spectacle of the clientele, it’s what’s on the plates that excites Greene. He and Anita are overwhelmed by farmers boasting beautiful harvests of tomatoes, ramps, and morels. He’s home for the long term to build family, comfort, community, and a dining institution.