The chef takes cooking to a higher level

By Wiley Henry

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The quaint little restaurant is bubbling inside, where succulent cuisine is artfully created by a master chef — like Da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa, for example.

The kitchen is as much a work of art as it is appetizing. The chef is Christopher E. Beavers. The quaint little restaurant Beavers owns is called The Grilled Asparagus.

“It goes back to the name culinary art. This is the art of cooking,” Beavers explained.

Located at one end of a small business strip, The Grilled Asparagus is just south of the Crosstown Concourse at 431 North Cleveland Street and Autumn Avenue, where small businesses thrive.

The exterior of the building is painted charcoal gray; its facade is nondescript. But the aroma of mouth-watering food wafts into the cozy and elegant space. A sign with the name of the restaurant hangs above.

Fried catfish served at The Grilled Asparagus.

Grilled Asparagus serves a range of dishes between soul food and specialty entrees that you’d find on the menu of four-star restaurants. Whatever your palate desires – vegan, vegetarian or pescarian – Beavers has it covered.

In addition to the succulent dishes he prepares at the restaurant, Beavers is a celebrity chef who personally cooks for celebrities, judges, lawyers, doctors and more. His clientele is different.

He is a culinary artist in his own right, whose kitchen skills were sought after by the late Bud Davis of Bud Davis Cadillac of Memphis, the late Lorenzen Wright and Rudy Gay, former Memphis Grizzlies standouts.

“My longest tenure was when I was the personal chef for the Memphis Grizzlies,” he said.

Beavers served as the Grizzlies’ personal chef for four years and R&B singers Anita Baker and Ginwine. He also cooked for other NBA players, coaches, community leaders, Memphis City Schools and politicians.

Reeves Law Firm in Memphis is currently a client. “We provide them with food every day,” he said.

Beavers has built a steady clientele of celebrities whose taste buds are as varied as the variety of dishes he serves. But then he would like to attract more blue-collar and young people to the restaurant.

There aren’t too many young people, he said. Either way, he is familiar with a variety of dishes when he cooks for celebrities and officials alike.

“It’s hard to find that environment,” he said, “where you attract the clientele that I’ve built, but also attract this new crowd that has money to spend.”

So what is Beavers cooking style? “It’s hard to pin down a particular style or class of cooking,” he said, choosing instead to be flexible and consistent when cooking for his clients.

“I used to say flexibility and creativity. But [the] the clientele doesn’t want creativity, they want consistency. They don’t want new macaroni and cheese; they want the same one from last year.”

Beavers’ interest in cooking began when he was a child growing up on Seventh Street in North Memphis. He graduated from Manassas High School in 1994 and chose to pursue a career in cooking.

“I just wanted to learn how to cook. I was always interested,” he said. “When I graduated high school, I had the chance to go to culinary school. That’s how I got my chef certification.”

Beavers earned his culinary arts degree from Kittrell Culinary School in Henderson, North Carolina, where he learned to develop his own unique style and flair. He then began serving as a sous chef in five-star kitchens in Memphis.

“I became an entrepreneur in 2010, but I didn’t get bricks and mortar until 2019,” he said, referring to his quaint little restaurant, The Grilled Asparagus.

Success is not guaranteed, he said, although he has been quite successful so far. But not all chefs are valued equally.

“I would say more people underestimate how challenging it is to be a chef,” Beavers said, “even people who go to culinary school to become a chef. They underestimate the tenacity, the strength you will achieve [need] to do it every day.”

Beavers said if a chef cooks for hundreds or thousands, he must be right.

“You have to have the gift of taste to do it right,” he said. “It takes some intangibles to do that at a high level.”

Chef Christopher E. Beavers can be reached at 901-406-8581.

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