Originally from State College, Pennsylvania, Ryan Smith has called Atlanta home for the last 10 years. Like many chefs before him, Smith took up an interest in cooking when he found himself washing dishes as a college student at Penn State University (the restaurant lifestyle, and not the dishwashing part, was the source of inspiration). Smith decided cooking would be his career and chose to attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He graduated in 2000 and was drawn to Atlanta by a fellow culinary student, who heralded the emerging national fascination with Southern cuisine.
Since his arrival in Atlanta, Smith has worked with some of the city’s most influential chefs. He got an early appreciation for the city working with Chef Anne Quatrano at Bacchanalia, then made his way over to the kitchen of Canoe. Smith also spent formative years working as chef de cuisine for 2007 Rising Star Chef Linton Hopkins at Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch. While working with these chefs, Smith gained kitchen confidence and a sincere fondness for the history and traditions of the Southeast.
In 2010, Smith teamed up with 2007 Rising Star Chef Hugh Acheson as executive chef of Empire State South, where he combines his well seasoned passion for Southern ingredients and techniques with a playfulness and artistic flair. And that creative flair helped earn him a spot among StarChefs.com's 2012 Atlanta Risings Stars. Working alongside Acheson, Smith is helping Empire State South to quickly become one of Atlanta’s most in-demand locations for regional cuisine and, like Smith himself, very much part of the Atlanta community.