Master's of Cuisine, Wining & Dining

Chef Larry Blevins

Chef Larry holding SF signature potatoes and filet mignon while cooking a rib eye on the grill. Photo Credit © Chester Simpson

Chef Larry Blevins
Society Fair
277 S. Washington Street
Old Town Alexandria

On Thursdays it’s French Steak Night, Larry Blevins Sous Chef at Society Fair cooks and serves a New York strip, rib eye, or filet, potatoes, and Caesar salad.

Personal Bio: I am the demo chef at Society Fair. I was born in Natchitoches, LA and spent my childhood moving in a military family. I graduated from L’Academie de Cuisine’s professional program in June of 2012. LAC is a small school in Gaithersburg MD, consisting of 6 months classroom and practical instruction, coupled with a 6 month externship. I did my externship at Acadiana in D.C. where I worked as their pastry assistant and miscellaneous prep guy. After graduation, I stayed on at Acadiana, and worked a different station every night of the week. During the day, I worked right across the street from Acadiana at a small (now closed restaurant) Asian-ish restaurant, 901. I was the daytime fry guy. After overstretching myself, maybe 10 total days off, for 6 months I quit both locations, and started at Society Fair December 2012. I figured if the Mayans were right I wanted my last few work days to be on my terms. Since then I have taken over French Steak night. I have stolen the demo’s and claimed them as my own. The world didn’t end, but I have found happiness in the kitchens here.

When did you first become interested in cooking? Why did you decide to pursue a culinary career?
In our family everything revolves around the kitchen. Whoever was behind the stove held all the power – they were the creators, the bosses of what and when we ate. They were always the most important person in the building. I grew up an only child of a single army mother splitting time with her and with my grandmother in Louisiana, so I had issues with being the center of attention. When I was maybe 4 or 5 years old I would get tasked with mixing biscuits or scrambling eggs. Later bacon. I didn’t decide to cook professionally until I was in my early 20’s

Who have been the biggest inspirations for your career?
This is easily my mother. Raising me on a limited enlisted soldiers salary was very tough. We had to be creative. Cooking for a spoiled brat on a tiny budget takes serious talent while juggling a demanding army career.

What dish on the menu are you most curious to see how it’s received?
The first I was curious about was the Gumbo. It is 95% my mother’s recipe. I have gotten great reviews on it, and that stirs a little extra pride in me. Lately though, the dish I have been watching is the Smoked Pork Chops and Grits. This was a collaboration of Chef Dan and myself. I am a very firm believer in cheese does not belong in grits. I believe if you slowly cook your grits with whole milk, herbs and some love it trumps cheese and that’s how we make our grits. I am curious to how people take to cheese-less grits.

What do you do to insure the quality of the food going out to customers?
First there is the visual inspection of the plates. With a lightly “vinegared” cheesecloth, clean the plates. Make sure hot food is hot, on a hot/warm plate, and the cold food is cold and on chilled plates. Tasting spoons are inexpensive, and they are lifesavers. I would rather gamble in Atlantic City on Roulette, and on my reputation and food that doesn’t taste very good.

If any chef in the world could prepare you a meal, who would it be?
I fortunately have been able to update my culinary bucket list a few times in my short career. I have crossed off, Chef Cathal Armstrong, Chef Michel Richard, Chef Gabrielle Hamilton, and some others. Right now I have an obsession with Chef Michael Symon of Lolita in Cleveland and Iron Chef fame. I am in love with the things he does with bacon, and his funky laugh.

What’s your guilty food pleasure?
This is an unfair question, most food is a guilty pleasure. I guess, I like to binge eat on pizza. I try to space out my sessions. And I mean pizza, I do have preferences but when you get down to it, I am not necessarily picky about what type or from where.

Cooking a New York strip, filet mignon , and rib eye in salt pepper, butter and garlic. Photo Credit © Chester Simpson
Cooking a New York strip, filet mignon , and rib eye in salt pepper, butter and garlic. Photo Credit © Chester Simpson

Written by: Chester Simpson
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