Chef Spotlight – Chef Michael Pryor at Cave 1912

Cave 1912 is tucked into a small strip mall off Bernard Street in the Five Points neighborhood of Raleigh.  Aptly named for its cavernous qualities, Cave 1912 opened on September 2, 2015 under the ownership of Brian Wellman.  This is Brian Wellman’s third restaurant, the other two having been in Florida and Virginia.  Brian’s passion for the culinary field stemmed from growing up in the restaurant industry.  Brian says Cave 1912 is akin to his previous restaurants with “similar cooking techniques featured in a modern ambiance.”  Cave 1912 is in its beginning stages, but it has already harbored great recognition and respect in the local press.  They are quickly becoming the next restaurant to keep an eye out for because of their delicious chef-driven menu that is straight forward, yet whimsical.

On his quest to find an executive chef for Cave 1912, Brian was clear he wanted someone with culinary talent, vision, and creativity akin to the style he desired for Cave 1912.  Chef Michael Pryor was just the chef for the job.  As Chef Michael says, “It was a good match because the job description mentioned a creative chef-driven place and quality of experience.  It wasn’t just about having so many years of work experience.”  Having gained most of his restaurant experience working in fine dining, Chef Michael was happy to see his culinary originality shone through to Brian.

Cave 1912 - Pryor and Wellman

Cave 1912 – Pryor and Wellman

Although Chef Michael is plain about his culinary history, he has worked with some of the top chefs known throughout not only the industry, but by the public, too.  Originally starting out his culinary adventure working at a Subway at the age of 15, Chef Michael moved on to becoming a runner in a restaurant and then starting to cook in restaurants.  Chef Michael was initially drawn to the pace and excitement of the kitchen, with the food coming secondary.  He decided to further his love of cooking by leaving his hometown of Frederick, Maryland, to attend the Culinary Institute of America in New York.

While attending the CIA, Chef Michael interned under Chef Michael Gettier at Antrim 1824 in Taneytown, Maryland.  It was there he started to develop his fine dining cooking skills.  After graduating, Chef Michael moved back to his hometown to work under the guidance of Chef Bryan Voltaggio at Volt.  He then moved on to work with Chefs Grant Achatz and Dave Beran at Next in Chicago before heading to Raleigh.  This resume is more than enough to impress the average Joe, yet Chef Michael is extremely modest.  He credits Chef Grant Achatz as an inspiration for being “hardworking, humble, and always working alongside you.”  After speaking with Chef Michael, it’s clear he has picked up a trait or two from his mentor.

Cave 1912 - Chef Michael Pryor

Cave 1912 – Chef Michael Pryor

Cave 1912 sticks out not only for its delicious food, but for the incredible thought and intention behind all details of the food, drinks and décor.  I think the best word to describe them as a whole is unassuming.  Speaking with Chef Michael and Brian, it’s evident they are both thoughtful individuals who do things with the intention of quality, not filler.  In an industry where being loud and boisterous can get you noticed, these gentlemen stand out for being understated.  These two just mesh well together with a great working relationship and the common understanding of their culinary vision for Cave 1912.

As with many new restaurants, Cave 1912 has time to develop and grow into what they envision for themselves.  One of these ideas includes developing and growing a garden behind the restaurant.  This will give Chef Michael even more flexibility in being able to grow what he wants to include on Cave 1912’s menu.  However, Cave 1912 is not lacking in the fresh and local department; despite the extremely small kitchen and storage space, the only thing not made in house is the cheese.  For the quality, creativity and extent of their menu, this is amazing.

Chef Michael hopes diners will come in to Cave 1912 and find “a place to call home for great food and service.”  He also hopes that after dining at Cave 1912, they will feel “excited and happy-whatever happy is for them” about the food they are creating and cooking.

Chef Michael Pryor, owner Brian Wellman, and their culinary crew have already generated a buzz for their deeply creative and thoughtful menu offerings in the short 4 months they’ve been open.  They are all passionate about “putting in work with constant growth and improvements” to help create and add to a relevant food scene in the Triangle.  Don’t miss out on the chance to see all Cave 1912 has to offer from food and beverage to ambiance and experience.

Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @ChefTessaRD.

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