Kurt D’Aurizio is an award-winning chef with thousands of menu items created, who oversees more than 20 restaurants for the Diving Dining Group, as an executive chef. As an award-winning caterer in Atlanta or as a consultant, helping restaurants and catering companies develop menus and improve profitability, D’Aurizio lives and breathes his passion for food.
His move to Jacksonville was one for family, but his enthusiasm for food has drawn his involvement with Slow Food First Coast as their co-leader and director of events and the market manager for Hemming Park’s GreenMarket. He was also involved in Springfield’s inaugural PorchFest.
His dedication to his family is obvious. Apart from raising two teenagers, he assists in the operation of My Grandmother’s Pie, a serious baking venture fronted by his wife.
Folio Weekly: What are the disappointing things about living in Northeast Florida?
Kurt D’Aurizio: There are too many chain restaurants, and not enough independents. I was fortunate to work for two very successful restaurant groups in Atlanta and Myrtle Beach and opened six restaurants in the past 12 years, two of which were AAA four-diamond rated. I had to seek out independents but once I became connected with the community of entrepreneurs who are doing wonderful things with food concepts, I became very excited about what is happening here. It has changed a lot in the past few years.
What are some pieces of advice you could give Northeast Florida with some perspective from having lived in other places?
Embrace the local businesses who are putting out a high-quality product. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. Every dollar spent in our community fosters and grows a local business. Atlanta has an active local food system because people support it and buy local; we need more of that. Support local farmers and farmers markets and get out and attend events. And don’t forget to shop local for services, too — get creative work done by people like Crux Collective instead of someone across the world. We all will build Jacksonville into what it will become. Let’s build a more vibrant, creative, exciting community for all.
When people from back home ask you about living here, what do you say to them?
Jacksonville is changing. Events like One Spark have helped usher in a new era of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. There is an overall spirit of collaboration as well. It is a great place to start a business.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am working on the launch of an artisanal food production business; stay tuned for more details. PorchFest will be bigger and better this year, mark your calendars for Nov. 7. Slow Food is planning a fall Tour de Farm as well; watch for more info.