The Cafe at Crosstown Arts
As a Memphis native, Chef Raymond nurtured his love of food at an early age, watching WKNO on Saturday mornings and taking notes from Justin Wilson, The Frugal Gourmet, Jacques Pepin, and Julia Child. He left Memphis to attend St. Paul’s school in New Hampshire and, later, Georgetown University where he received a B.S.B.A in Accounting.
Accounting proved not to be his passion, so he moved to New York to attend Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School as a work-study student. After he graduated culinary school, Raymond was lured by the sounds of jazz and the smell of gumbo, muffulettas, and crawfish to an externship with Chef Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans. The next stop on his culinary journey was filled with ripe mangoes, plantains, pato frito, and mojo as he began working with Norman Van Aken in Miami.
Chef Raymond opened a Southern/Caribbean restaurant, Alvin & Friends, in New Rochelle, New York. The restaurant received numerous accolades under Raymond’s guidance including “Best Fried Chicken” in Westchester County, “26 out of 30” for food by Zagat and a “Don’t Miss” rating from The New York Times.
Raymond made The Cayman Islands his home when he accepted the position of Executive Chef at Al La Kebab and Dine by Design Catered Events. His time living in the Caribbean provided the opportunity to open Surfside, a wildly popular Seven Mile Beach destination beach bar, and SMOKE, a locals’ roadside BBQ stand. Through both ventures, Raymond became totally immersed in Caribbean ingredients and techniques.
Raymond’s culinary journey eventually brought him back home to Memphis and to a completely new challenge — successfully opening the plant-focused cafe at Crosstown Arts. This stretch of the journey has been truly invigorating, allowing Raymond to learn new techniques and work with new ingredients.