Article and photography by Fitz
Ask anyone who has worked in a kitchen with Sam Garrity and they will tell you he is a talented chef. When the first Young Guns of the Industry chef competition was put together, his name kept popping up repeatedly in an open ended Facebook thread as industry folks weighed in on who they thought the most talented chef under 30 was in Hampton Roads.
His style of cooking can best be described as a hybrid of Southern and French cuisine. From delicate fish to gigantic steaks and heirloom based grain dishes, it would take an expansive search locally to find many other chefs of his sprightly age that can make those types of ingredients excite a diner’s palate as much as he can. Veteran Hampton Roads cook Travis Lindblad said of the twenty-nine year old, “He’s a great young chef that is helping to shape the food scene in the area.” It’s a compliment echoed by many others and one Chef Garrity is keenly aware of.
Under Chef Ben Halley’s tutelage at Six Little Bar Bistro in 2009, Garrity truly began to harness his creativity and grow as a professional in the industry. Under Aengus Channon at Fin in 2010, he earned a more complete reverence for the purity of cooking and focused on mastering the basics. Under Chef John Ledbetter at Venture in 2013, Garrity learned how to innovate while still paying homage to the traditions of the past. And then in 2015, Garrity would step up and become the defacto kitchen manager at Deadrise.
Garrity, however, would come to find himself more and more overbearing in the kitchen at Deadrise, and let the power of being higher up the food chain get the best of him. As he put it, “I knew I had a gift and that can feel powerful. I was yelling in the kitchen and was treating my body like shit. I had my vices and made what should have been simple in the kitchen complicated.”
Upon being let go from Deadrise, Garrity recalled being “humbled…I had forgotten about the joy of cooking, about using cooking as an outlet, about being creative using my hands, about making things from scratch,” as he remembered beneath the autumn tree leaves overhanging the veranda of Vintage Tavern where he cooks now.
Today, those reasons, those principles are in the forefront of his mind as his hands stay busy on the Vintage line. Garrity keeps it simple, but never lets his cooking become complacent. The innovation of Ledbetter is with him. The purity of Channon is with him as well. Now, alongside a crew at Vintage he sees as “family”, Chef Garrity is making some of the best food yet in his promising career.
For more on Garrity and Vintage Tavern, visit: vintagetavernvirginia.com