A lifelong love of cooking and creating different meals has led Blake Yount from working as a cook all the way to starting his own restaurant venture in Guntersville.
The Lafayette, Louisiana native began cooking at 10-years-old simply because the family around him put an emphasis on the kitchen. Yount broke into the culinary field by perhaps the most unconventional way before eventually working as a sous chef for Tony Chachere’s.
“Growing up in Louisiana you learn from an early age that everything happens in the kitchen,” he said. “You love, laugh and cry in the kitchen and that had a big effect on me as a young kid. I always wanted to cook and started when I was about 10. I got my first BBQ pit when I was 12 and kept cooking as a hobby for years.”
Yount started cooking professionally at the age of 20. Now 35-years-old, he believes the lessons he learned at his first cooking job resonate to this day.
“My first job was at Village Café in Lafayette, which was the place to eat in that city if you wanted fine dining,” he said. “The chef there was Jude Touzin. I had just gotten laid off from my other job in the oil business and decided it was time to try and get into the culinary world. I had no formal education but I wanted to learn so bad. So, I went to the restaurant every day for two weeks until finally Touzin gave in and hired me.”
Yount worked for Touzin at Village Café for four years before going back into his original career in the oil industry. He said some hard lessons were learned, but ultimately the experiences and relationships built while at Village Café have stayed with Yount to this day.
“After four years I got the opportunity to run the restaurant and the kitchen,” he said. “I quickly learned I wasn’t ready for this kind of responsibility. I learned so much about the art of cooking but I wasn’t ready to manage people. That’s when I decided to get back into the oil business. Regardless, I always gravitated back to cooking. It never left me and I knew it was something I’d eventually go back to.”
As fate would have it, Yount was laid off from his job again and he knew it was time to get back into the cooking industry. He attempted one venture with several cooking partners but decided it wasn’t the business for him. Yount decided to call an old friend for some help.
“I called Touzin and ask if he could help me out at all,” he said. “He said he was working as the head chef for Tony Chachere and said I should come be his sous chef. Obviously, I took that job in a heartbeat. I started working for them a little over three years ago and in that time, I have learned so much about the business side of the food.”
Guntersville professional angler Chris Lane is indirectly responsible for Yount making the move to Guntersville. Before getting into the food industry, Chachere fished professionally and got to know Lane. Since then, Chachere has been a consistent supporter of the Chris Lane kids fishing camp every year it’s been held.
“I met Chris Lane and Wes Long with the MLFAA last year at an event we were having at Tony’s house in Opaloosa, Mississippi,” Yount said. “We all started discussing different ideas we had and I decided to visit during the Kickoff the Summer event in Guntersville last May. I fell in love with the place almost immediately. The different kinds of food I cooked for people while in Guntersville were all received very well, which motivated me to make the move even more.”
Yount’s new venture called Southern Fare will offer French, Italian and Cajun inspired flavors with a twist. While he hasn’t officially named a location yet, Yount said he’ll be serving up his unique dishes to people in Guntersville and the surrounding area in February. Right now, he’s already added a few new dishes to the Guntersville Wintzell’s menu like stuffed oysters, sea bass, new seafood gumbo and creamed spinach.
Yount also plans on offering a private chef experience for parties and events.
“The plan is to make this a complete culinary experience and more personal for those who dine with us,” he said. “Guntersville reminds me a lot of home in several different ways. The lake reminds me of home and Guntersville has a lot of the same qualities as Lafayette. There’s lots of history, religion is important and people love their food and the love their people.”
Yount plans on opening his own restaurant in Guntersville this February and said he’ll make an official announcement about this restaurant in the coming months.