Bill Smith was born and raised in New Bern, North Carolina and was the chef at Crook’s Corner for nearly three decades until his retirement in 2019. Smith is as well known for his sumptuous take on Southern comfort food as he is for his exceptional food writing—including the New York Times Notable and Food & Wine Best-of-the-Best cookbook Seasoned in the South and the bestselling Savor the South title, Crabs & Oysters.
Bill Smith stands out as the only James Beard Foundation “America’s Classic Restaurant” chef ever to have been named a final-five finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast—and twice.
Continually interpreting found heirloom recipes, Bill Smith’s recipes have their way of becoming iconic dishes, first served at Crook’s Corner. Among the recipes that have become classics are Green Peach Salad (featured in the New York Times), Tomato & Watermelon Salad (featured on the cover of Southern Living), Cheesepork! (the southern schnitzel), Southern Risottos & Tamales and of course his many desserts, including his most famous, Honeysuckle Sorbet and Atlantic Beach Pie (dubbed by NPR the “Oh, My God Pie.”). Among his most loved recipes are the Atlantic Beach Pie, Orange Red Hot Sorbet, Soft Shell Crabs, Jerusalem Artichoke Relish, Bourbon Brown Sauce and possibly the tastiest Eastern NC House-cured Corned Ham—anywhere.
During his time at Crook’s Chef Bill Smith long worked with farmers, homestead gardeners and foraged himself for ingredients that gathered season by season on the Crook’s Corner menu. A foremost chef-expert in Southern foodways, he served for years on the board for the Southern Foodways Alliance. Also notable, his grounded commentary on Mexican immigrants has been featured in CNN’s Eatocracy, in Southern Cultures, the SFA’s Cornbread Nation, and in Garden & Gun.
And it’s quite likely you’ll spot Bill on his bicycle heading to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market most Saturday mornings. You can follow Bill on Instagram @chulegre.