Kevin Maxey, a native East Texan, grew up in a family in which good food was the focal point of every gathering, sparking an interest in the culinary arts at an early age. Further inspired by cooking shows on PBS or family outings to Peking Garden down the road, Maxey was drawn to the notion of working behind the swinging doors of a professional kitchen.
In 1994, Maxey graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in marketing knowing that the only thing he wanted to do was cook. Two months after graduating, he moved to California in hopes of learning the culinary ropes first-hand. He took his first cooking job as a butcher’s apprentice, and though this less-than-glamorous position was not what the neophyte had in mind, Maxey committed himself to working up the ranks to becoming a chef. A year later he was back in Texas working at The Riviera under Chef David Holben, where he learned the foundations of French culinary technique. Two years later he embarked on a self-directed apprenticeship that took him to Seattle, Aspen, and then New York.
It was Chef Thierry Reautureau at Rover’s in Seattle who suggested he go work for Tom Colicchio at Gramercy Tavern in New York. By then Maxey had been cooking for four years and felt ready for the challenge of cooking in Manhattan. Over the next four and a half years he developed his skills among the best aspiring chefs in the country and learned that a cook must look, listen, smell, and be aware of everything going on in the kitchen. Maxey adopted a simple culinary philosophy of letting ingredients speak for themselves with proper technique and seasoning.
Maxey took a break from New York in 2003, ending up in Louisville where he worked for local chefs, including a stint at an artisanal bakery where a passion for the best ingredients and a strict adherence to precision reflected his own approach to cooking. In 2005, Colicchio called and asked if he was ready to rejoin the Craft family and head up the Craft Dallas project. Maxey jumped at the chance to not only work for Colicchio again but also to be back in Texas with his family.
At Craft, Maxey's menu reflected his philosophy as a chef: perfect ingredients perfectly cooked. That precision earned him a 2007 StarChefs.com Dallas Rising Stars Award. After establishing himself as a presence in Dallas and the Craft empire, Maxey moved to Atlanta to take on Collichio's Georgia outpost until the restaurant closed in 2010.