Chef Scott Phillips grew up in a small, coal mining town of Virginia with the desire to always cook and be in the kitchen. He remembers baking biscuits with his grandmother and watching his grandfather cook, becoming fascinated with the endless possibilities of what could be created. He spent his childhood watching PBS cooking shows and eventually his mom let him into the kitchen to make family dinner from time to time. This led to trying out various recipes, including ones that still stick out to him today: apple muffins and yogurt cheese. He even expanded his repertoire into baking, making cookies and cakes in high school with his neighbor.
After graduation, Scott moved on to serve in the Navy for eight years. During this time, he ventured through 16 countries and developed an Asian palate by experiencing the culture and food first hand. Ready to be back stateside, Scott accepted an apprenticeship position in Maryland to learn and get paid for working as a chef. He experienced all aspects of fine dining, how to scale recipes and implement the coastal regional style into his southern roots. After three years apprenticing, Scott was a banquet chef in a high end facility, a personal chef and spent time working in an Asian restaurant. Ready for another adventure, Scott moved to Tennessee for a sous chef position. Scott spent two and a half years working at the Carnegie Hotel and picked up many accolades and awards and even taught in a local culinary college.
In 2011, Scott took a position at Crabtree Tavern in Raleigh. He spent two and a half years there transitioning their menu to be 99% fresh, from scratch cooking and helping impart his hard work ethic within the kitchen, too. He eventually moved into a consulting role at the Marriott in RTP where he worked tireless hours and didn’t have the work-life balance so many chef and food service industry positions lack. Fast forward to early 2015 when Scott first interviewed, competed and accepted the position as the chef for JMR Kitchens. Scott first started off at Taste, one of the three restaurant concepts of JMR Kitchens. He spent a few months there and quickly advanced to the GM position of Taste and eventually progressing into the Executive Chef position of the entire company.
JMR Kitchens consists of three restaurants around Raleigh: More, Taste and The Oak. Chef Scott says, “the desires and feedback from customers are taken into consideration when creating and altering the menus.” He explained, “We don’t want to be stagnant, so we change the menus every 3 months. However, there are a few favorite items that fundamentally stay the same, with a few ingredients that change based on the season.” Across all restaurants, they use the Farmers’ Collective for their produce and even have herb planters growing at The Oak and Taste. Their restaurants center around having a good time featuring quality food at reasonable prices. Their venues are also well-decorated and trendy, but without the pretention that comes along with other “hip” Triangle restaurants.
Chef Scott says the kitchen and restaurant life isn’t for everyone, especially as it’s “100% chaos with the constant pursuit of perfection.” He also believes he’s found a restaurant group where he found “a connection with JMR Kitchens because our goals and ambitions of where we want to be in the culinary industry are aligned. They’re also knowledgeable about the food service industry and I was excited to be a part of their team.”
Despite Chef Scott’s serious attitude in the kitchen, he has fun, including rocking an impressively spiked hairstyle. Chef Scott says, “We work hard to create enjoyable meals for people. We’re growing rapidly as a company and the staff is invested in the vision, which makes it easier when everyone’s on board.” Chef Scott says that although each one has a distinctly different vibe and menu, each restaurant is focused on providing a great dining experience for all. Slowly check off your JMR Kitchens bucket-list by visiting More, Taste and The Oak. You won’t be disappointed with the flavor that comes packed into each bite.
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 @