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January 30, 2024

Photo recap: Meet the Chef with Kaley Laird

Mimosa Grill’s first female executive chef in its 30-year history treated attendees with delightful food and stories

by TM Petaccia

Kaley Laird has traveled coast-to-coast — from upstate New York to Michelin-star restaurants in Napa, California to Asheville to becoming Mimosa Grill’s first female executive chef in its 30-year history. Originally a pastry chef, she brings the same creative and artistic approach to her savory dishes. Something UP diners experienced last night at our first Meet the Chef dinner of 2024. Telling stories about her background and her approach to developing hearty yet refined dishes, the evening gave attendees insights into her style and engaging personality.

Here are just a few of the highlights from her Meet the Chef dinner.

Meet the Chef is just one of the series of dinners and culinary events Unpretentious Palate hosts every year. UP subscribers always get preferred status with upfront ticket purchases at a discount. Be sure you don’t miss a single bite of what we plan to offer in 2024. If you are not yet a subscriber, subscribe today.

The night’s Meet the Chef menu. TM Petaccia/UP

Surprise bread service included Chef Laird’s housemade focaccia with avocado butter. TM Petaccia/UP

Peanut Butter + Pork — celery root purée, savory peanut, pork croutons, celery greens. TM Petaccia/UP

Kaley Laird discusses her journey from New York to California to North Carolina. TM Petaccia/UP

Sherry-Roasted Turnips — grilled banana, smoked cocoa nibs, spiced honey, duck confit. TM Petaccia/UP

Mushroom Goulash — venison, salty cheese, blackened tomato, good noodles, smoked oil. TM Petaccia/UP

UP diners take a small break between courses. TM Petaccia/UP

Roasted Chicken Thigh — herb salad, citrus oil. TM Petaccia/UP

Chef Kaley Laird puts the final touches on dessert. TM Petaccia/UP

Caramelized Parsnip – umami carob crumble, chai, cream. TM Petaccia/UP

After dinner, Kaley Laird (far left) discusses the evening with attendees, Ashley Boyd, chef/owner of 300 East (left), Piedmont Culinary Guild executive director Kris Reid, and local food advocate Amie Dillon (back). TM Petaccia/UP

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