Chef Jimmy Sneed of SugarToad at Hotel Arista - Biography

Naperville, IL

November 2011

Jimmy Sneed’s first initiation into the culinary world came while preparing for a degree in international law in Paris, in 1974. He had taken a job translating for the American students at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and it was here that he was exposed to the philosophy of Grand Cuisine, and the respect with which great chefs treated their product.

Upon his return to the States, Sneed began working in kitchens to further his knowledge of food. His goal was to find a master who would teach him to cook great tasting food. This search led him to Chef Jean-Louis Palladin of Jean-Louis at Watergate in Washington, D.C. who in 1975 had become the youngest chef ever to receive two Michelin Stars. Sneed’s stint with Jean-Louis was interrupted by a year spent working as sous chef for Chef Gunther Seeger at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta, which had been awarded a Michelin star. Chefs Palladin and Seeger were, at that time, the only Michelin rated chefs in America.

Sneed first acquired a national reputation based on his unadulterated preparation and serving of stunning local product while working at Windows on Urbanna Creek in Urbanna, VA. In 1993, Sneed and partner Adam Steely opened The Frog and the Redneck, the “frog” being a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the French influence on regional American cooking. Only six months after opening, The Frog and the Redneck was called “One of the Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire Magazine. The restaurant eventually closed (not before being written up in several major publications), and Sneed went on to cultivate his passion for regional American cuisine elsewhere, including Chicago’s Sugartoad.

Although still a champion of top quality product, including the carnivorous kind, Sneed is now happily ensconced in the kitchen of Fresca on Addison, the trailblazing meat-free Richmond, VA restaurant he runs with his wife and daughters. And when he's not cooking, Sneed builds upon his early contributions to publications like Fine Cooking and Restaurant Hospitality with a light-hearted, cheekily irreverent blog, www.productpassionandsalt.com.