Des Moines, IA- Oct 10 – On Monday October 10th, Chef Benjamin Smart, Executive Chef and Partner at Big Grover Brewery, Pullman Bar & Diner and St. Burch Tavern, in Iowa City was awarded the 2018 Restaurateur of the Year Award by the Iowa Restaurant Association. Smart was nominated by a customer and chosen for his commitment and dedication to the restaurant community in Eastern Iowa. He was presented the award at a ceremony in Des Moines by the Incoming Chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Joe Essa of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Current Chairman of the Iowa Restaurant Association Board of Directors Darin Beck of Barmuda Companies.
Smart always knew he was not cut out for a desk job. He earned his geoscience degree from University of Iowa with that thought in mind. From the time he was a child, he loved cooking and had a fascination with the chefs on television, specifically the program “Great Chefs, Great Cities” on PBS.
Smart couldn’t deny his draw to the restaurant industry. One night when he was out with his wife she told Smart that he was not stuck on one path and encouraged him to go cook. This was the nudge he needed to truly start his journey down the culinary path
The Iowa City native earned his culinary degree from Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids. He worked in several local restaurants—meeting many of his future business partners. He spent time in Kansas City working with James Beard winning, Chef Celina Tio, in the fine dining American Restaurant.
In 2013 he received a call from Big Grove partner Doug Goettsch that brought him back to Iowa. Goetsch wanted an Iowa chef to open the Solon restaurant. Smart made the leap and helped establish the small-town brew pub as a culinary destination. Even as an owner, Chef Smart is never far from a kitchen and continues to hone his craft and encourages his team to do the same.
A video showcasing Smart can be found at www.restaurantiowa.com.
Iowa Restaurant Association
The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s restaurant and bar industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.
Public Relations Specialist