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Rising Stars: Meet Steven Lash

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steven Lash.

Hi Steven, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My culinary journey started in high school when I got a job as a dishwasher at Steak n Ale. One night I was putting some dishes away near the line and the cook (who was working solo that night) asked me to help him out on the garnish station. I had no idea what I was doing but he talked me through it and I was immediately hooked! I worked my way up through the ranks at various restaurants over the course of the next 15 years. All along I worked to hone my skills and elevate my craft by working in better and better restaurants around the Atlanta area. When my first child was born, I began to reevaluate the restaurant lifestyle and eventually changed careers in hopes of better providing for my young family. I spent the next several years working in tech where I built a successful career – yet I very much missed the kitchen and would continue to cook for people every chance I got.

In late 2019, I was working for a tech start-up that didn’t work out and I found myself looking for something to do. I began considering returning to the kitchen so I posted to my friend’s list on Facebook that I would ‘come to your home and cook a high-end restaurant-style meal for you and your guests – a concept that I started working toward while previously in the restaurant business, but I put on the shelf. One of my friends owned a vacation property rental company Blue Ridge, Georgia and reached out to me to see if I would be interested in providing my services to her rental clients. Hell yeah, I would! Things took off from there and by the summer of 2020, it has become a full-time occupation.

When setting up my business, I chose the name BLUE DUCK. It is a reference to a little blue rubber duck that my daughter had given me many years ago to carry on a business trip, so I didn’t forget her. She was about five years old at the time and the duck has traveled with me ever since and is a nod to the various regional influences on my cooking.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Hell no! It took me several months of doing this before I really gave in to it and began to call myself a ‘chef’. I straddled the fence for a while and it wasn’t until I fully committed to what I am doing now that things began to really take off.

When I first started to do it is when COVID hit and it seemed like the worst possible time to start a food business. I lost a lot of private bookings due to travel bans and had to pivot. I began doing food truck-style pop-ups for a while and that got us by until people started traveling again.

In addition to that, there was a tremendous learning curve from a business and operations perspective. Cooking is the easy part. Getting myself organized, dealing with part-time help, and handling accounting and budgeting are all challenges that require a lot of discipline that don’t come naturally to me. Fortunately, I had spent enough time working in tech startups that I was exposed to a lot of the behind-the-scenes operational stuff so I wasn’t completely lost in it.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a personal chef and I bring an elevated restaurant-style dining experience into people’s private homes or vacation properties. My food is what I call “Inspired American Cuisine”. Many of my dishes are inspired by regional favorites (especially southern) and family recipes. I enjoy taking classic dishes and elevating them with an upscale flare and often unexpected twists.

This typically takes the form of a four or seven-course meal and if you’re adventurous enough a full “Chef’s Choice” experience where you and your guests don’t know what’s on the menu until the plate is set down in front of you! I always use the best quality ingredients I can find and I am constantly expanding my local vendor relationships.

In addition to the personal dining experience, I offer in-person and virtual cooking demonstrations and classes. One of my philosophies is that food should be accessible! Diners and cooks should not be intimidated by it and it’s important to have fun with it.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
J King Images, Wentzek Photo Indigo Lash

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