Surry Business

For and about business in Surry County, N.C., including Dobson, Elkin, Lowgap, Pilot Mountain and Mount Airy

Surry Business random header image

New chef has an MBA in one hand, saute pan in the other

July 31st, 2007 · No Comments

Young chef Lee Fann – he turned 23 on July 18 – quit his job in Providence, R.I., and moved to Mount Airy in June to take over the jobs of executive chef and food & beverage manager at Scuppernongs Restaurant & Deli in the Old North State Winery on Main Street in Mount Airy.

He’s committed to delivering “fresh, quality food; quality service; quality experience.”

“If you have all those things together,” Fann explains, “it’s going to bring people in and it’s going to bring people back.”

Fann knows quality. He has three degrees from prestigious Johnson & Wales University, including an Associate’s Degree in Baking and Pastry, a Bachelor’s Degree in Food-Service Management and an MBA in Global Business Leadership.

Fann honed his skills in kitchens ranging from Cracker Barrel’s in Fayetteville near his hometown in Stedman, N.C.; through two of Johnson & Wales’ campuses; to high-end caterer Mediterra in Charleston, S.C., and in Athens’ four-star Hotel Alexandros in Greece.

While Fann was growing up in North Carolina, cable television’s Food Network was growing nationwide and raising many restaurant customers’ expectations whether they live in a big city or a small one, such as Mount Airy.

“People definitely have a heightened sense of what quality is,” Fann said. “They know, when they’re sitting down, if their waitress or waiter is not a quality server. Service is a big key to this business. People are more aware of what they should get when they order things. They know flavors more and if their meal comes out and it’s not the quality they’re expecting for the price they’re paying it’s another flaw. All those things have to work together.”

To serve Scuppernongs’ customers the highest-quality meals, “We give a higher-quality, fresher, local taste to everything here,” Fann says. That emphasis, along with the restaurant’s unique setting in North Carolina’s oldest downtown winery, makes Scuppernongs stand out from its competitors.

“When you go to a national chain’s restaurant, you’re getting that chain’s menu. It’s predictable, no matter what city you’re in.

“We start with fresh meats, fresh chicken, and fresh eggs. We cut our steaks and chicken breasts by hand. When you dine with us you always know you’re going to get the freshest, quality piece of meat in your entree. We buy all of our vegetables, if possible, locally. Our lettuce and other salad greens are grown locally using organic methods. Fresh, local, flavorful.”

And, of course, Scuppernongs uses and features the local wines produced at Old North State Winery, where customers can tour the winery itself and sample wines at the tasting bar.

The overall atmosphere is one in which people can enjoy casual fine dining.

“We want you to come in and we want you to be relaxed,” Fann said. “It’s not black-tie here. We want you to sit down, enjoy yourself with a glass of wine. It’s casual, but it’s a good dining experience.”

Scuppernongs’ standard menu features seven entrees, priced from $12.50 up, and almost a dozen signature sandwiches starting at $5.50, as well as appetizers and salads.

“Everything is cooked to order,” Fann emphasized. “Even our steaks are hand cut, grilled over a real grill, not a flattop, and cooked to order.” “We ‘quarter’ our steaks ourselves,” he said proudly.

“I think one of our standout dishes is the sautéed shrimp and scallop fettuccini alfredo,” Fann continued. “It’s made with fresh shrimp and scallops. We prepare the alfredo cream sauce to order with each one; there’s nothing coming out of a bottle. We make all of our sauces in-house and you’re not going to get a fresher taste.

“We also have an amazing Reuben sandwich. Corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island, Swiss cheese piled high on toasted rye. You’re not going to get a sandwich like this anywhere else. You’re not going to get sandwiches prepared one at a time like ‘The Wang Chung,’ our tempura-battered tilapia filet with a sweet-and-sour sauce on a Kaiser roll. Our fried grouper sandwich, ‘The Deep Wowza,’ is another great dish.”

Several of the appetizers are unusual. Fann personally recommends the luscious pineapple dipped in a coconut batter and flash-fried moments before being brought to your table.

Scuppernongs Restaurant & Deli and Old North State Winery at 308 N. Main St. in Mount Airy are open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. On Sundays the restaurant is open for brunch from noon to 3 p.m. and the wine bar is open from noon to 6 p.m. Old North State Winery also has banquet facilities and a catering service and offers tours of its wine-making operation. For more information call (336) 786-8600 or visit the web site at

Tags: Businesses

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment