Executive Chef Greg Richie is well known as the man who fronted Orlando restaurants for celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and Roy Yamaguchi. But with Soco, he returns to his Southern roots with a contemporary interpretation of one of America’s classic cuisines.
The award-winning chef spent his early professional years in the kitchens of renowned Southern restaurants that included Magnolias in Charleston; The Abbey, Atlanta; The Lark and the Dove, Roswell, Georgia; and Atlanta Athletic Club. It was in those restaurants that he first gained an appreciation for carefully selected ingredients and the honesty of the finished dish. Long before such terms as farm-to-table and locally sourced became culinary buzzwords, Richie was practicing that philosophy. “I place a strong emphasis on the integrity of the ingredients I use,” he says, “what I call ‘thoughtfully sourced,’ whether they’re from accountable local growers or purveyors dedicated to sustainable fishing.” Richie developed the Soco menu over several years as an exciting new expression of Southern contemporary cuisine.
Richie graduated with honors from the acclaimed Johnson and Wales University in Charleston. He worked with Yamaguchi at the original Roy’s Restaurant in Hawaii and was selected to be the first executive chef/partner for Roy’s in Orlando. He was then chosen by Lagasse to take over the kitchen at Tchoup Chop at the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando.
Richie has cooked multiple times at the prestigious Beard House in Manhattan, a sought after honor among chefs, and he is a charter member of SunshinePlate, a coalition of chefs and culinary industry professionals dedicated to food advocacy. His awards include Chef of the Year, Best Local Chef and Best Seafood in Orlando (Orlando Magazine), and he was perennially named to Restaurant Forum’s list of the Top 20 Chefs in Central Florida. He has made numerous appearances on local and national television shows and participates in food and wine charity events, including Heart of Florida United Way’s Chef’s Gala and Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation.
“We’re not just a local restaurant in terms of the products we use,” says Richie. “Soco is a neighborhood restaurant. We’re committed to the community of Thornton Park and to being a part of the culinary renaissance of downtown Orlando.”