Young Culinary Grad Off to Quick Start

There are people who have always known what they were meant to do. Kyle Hobbs is one of those fortunate souls. “I come from a very food-oriented family,” he says. “As far back as I can remember, we were always traveling and trying new restaurants and new types of food.”

Kyle gravitated to the kitchen at an early age and soon began entering chili cook-offs in his rural community of Gates County, North Carolina. In high school, he began working in a pizza parlor. He’s been working in restaurants ever since. However, that was not all that long ago. For Kyle, high school was just a few years back. He graduated in 2016 and a couple months later was enrolled at ECPI University’s College of Culinary Arts, Culinary Institute of Virginia (CIV).

From the moment he arrived on campus, Kyle knew he had made a good decision. He was in his element. “It was a fantastic learning experience,” he says. “It’s a family-like atmosphere and there are many friends I made there that I am still very close to.”  When it came time to pick a restaurant for his externship, Kyle already knew where he wanted to be. He and his family had always enjoyed Harper’s Table, a fine dining, Southern-style restaurant in Suffolk, Virginia. Kyle impressed everyone there, just as he did the faculty at CIV and was offered a full-time position after graduation.

In May, Kyle was offered a position as sauté chef at the Chef & The Farmer, a progressive eatery in Kinston, North Carolina owned by famed Chef Vivian Howard, a restaurateur, author, and television host. She and her husband opened the farm-to-fork establishment in 2006 as a way to help turn some of Eastern Carolina’s displaced tobacco farmers into food farmers. Since then, the Chef & The Farmer has been featured in countless magazines and TV shows. Chef Howard has even won a Daytime Emmy and Peabody Award.

All of this is to say that being offered a job at this kind of restaurant is a pretty big deal. “I love what we do,” says Kyle. “On one hand, we do offer Southern cooking, but in a way few could imagine, fusing it with foods and traditions in places as far-flung as Italy, India, and the Middle East.”

So what’s next for Kyle? He says he wants to stay put for a little while. “The executive chef here is amazing and has serious connections in some of the nation’s leading food destinations,” he says. At some point, this self-described country boy says he will be ready to move on to a big city like New York, San Francisco or Atlanta. After that, he wants to go small again and start his own restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina. He certainly has a game plan, but then again, what would one expect from someone who’s always known what he’s wanted to do?

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