Great Chefs’ Dinner: Introducing Chef John Currence

Chef John Currence

On April 15, 2019, The Family Tree is hosting our 28th Annual Great Chefs’ Dinner! This event is our largest fundraiser of the year, and after almost three decades of dinners, we have been so lucky to have some truly amazing chefs come to Baltimore to help support our work to prevent child abuse and build strong families.

This year is no different, as we are honored to introduce Chef John Currence as our 2019 Chef. Chef Currence is well known in Mississippi and nationally for his southern cooking style and restaurants. In an article from Tasting Table, Chef Currence said, “I truly believe the dining room is where people can and should come together with dialogue and discourse, and hopefully people want to be part of that conversation.” Similarly, we know that Chef Currence will help us make our 28th Great Chefs’ dinner a place where our supporters can come together in dialogue about building strong families in Maryland!

Chef Currence was born in New Orleans, LA. His family always loved to cook and spend time in the kitchen. He and his family also lived in Europe for a few years, which helps explain some of the global twists on his southern recipes. Ever since college at UNC, he has been working in the food and restaurant industry.  He has been fascinated with the industry since his first job in Bill Neal’s Crooks Corner Kitchen washing dishes. He has done everything from dishwashing, to a butcher, baker and now a head chef in over 7 restaurants.

In 1992, Currence settled in Oxford, Mississippi where the restaurant scene was struggling. He opened City Grocery and it really took off, especially among young professionals. Shortly after, he was able to open up some of his other restaurants including Nacho Mama’s, Kalo’s, Ajax Diner, City Grocery Catering Company, Bouré, and Big Bad Breakfast and Snackbar. The Chef is very well known in the area and has been winning awards in the restaurant industry since 1998, including the Best Chef South award form the James Beard Foundation in 2009. Most recently, his first restaurant, City Grocery, won best special occasion restaurant in Mississippi named by The Daily Meal. You can also find of his favorite recipes that helped launch his career in his two cook books; Big Bad Breakfast and Pickles, Pigs and Whisky.

In addition to being an award winning chef and published author, he still finds time to embrace his passion in the outdoors and through his nonprofit Move On Up Mississippi. Move On Up Mississippi is dedicated to funding organizations invested in the future health of children in Mississippi. Their own programs and services include helping provide healthy food education to low income families, providing healthy food at reasonable costs and encouraging exercise for children. Chef Currence helped start this nonprofit and still serves on the board.


We are looking forward to another amazing evening raising families up in Maryland, and we are so thankful for all of the support from our community. We are all in this together!

Rooted in Community, Raising Families Up.

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