Hometown Chef Brings Zest to Alabama Restaurant
A celebrated new restaurant has appeared on the culinary scene in Dothan, Alabama. After years of training and work experience at legendary New York dining establishments, Dothan-born Kelsey Barnard has returned home and is now running Butcher Block, newly reopened as KBC Butcher Block and Market.
Barnard began developing her culinary skills at a young age, growing up in her Southern mother’s kitchen, baking cakes and learning family recipes that would ultimately develop the foundation of her reputation. Giving boxed cakes and goods to family friends as gifts, Barnard created a buzz with anything she baked in the oven. By the time she was 14, she had taught herself the art of fondant and sugar paste decorations and began selling her first specialty cakes. The next year she had her mom take her out of school and drive her to cater her first wedding, with her personally crafted wedding cake carefully placed in the back.
Barnard attended Auburn University for two years studying hotel and restaurant management, but it was clear that her interests were focused on a more specialized career path. Working at an off campus café called Bizilia’s, Barnard discovered her love for cafes and delis, and was inspired to further her education and experience by applying to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
As part of her education, Barnard was no stranger to the diversity and surplus of fine-dining available in Manhattan, and it was there that she mastered her craft in world-class NYC restaurants such as Café Boulud and Dovetail. Barnard interned under Gavin Kaysen (James Beard Rising Chef of the Year) for a year at Café Boulud and served as his stage for the Bocuse d’Or competition. She also studied for one year under Michal Shelkowitz at Dovetail where she was promoted to sous chef within four months of interning. It was during this year of pastry work that Barnard developed her famous macarons and perfected her recipe with endless practice.
Barnard’s hometown reputation, and growth, all started with her development of KBC Catering. Specializing in private events and fine dining, she has gained invaluable experience and continued to offer premier service and cuisine in another field of the food industry. Barnard’s private-home dinners, personally designed cakes, and seasonal macarons have created a following of old friends and beyond.
In early 2014, Barnard’s focus changed when she became owner/chef of Dothan, Alabama’s Butcher Block Restaurant. The new eatery, now called KBC Butcher Block & Market, has been operating for the past few months while Barnard continues to grow and manage KBC Catering. Her love of cafes is now on display here at this wonderful new venture. KBC Butcher Block is one of the more exciting, growing restaurants in the area, featuring Slow Food and local produce as well as Barnard’s amazing baked goods.
The restaurant features daily specials, with an emphasis on providing great food, a local flavor, and an inviting environment for delicious offerings of lunch, dinner, and any specialty cut of beef or gulf seafood on the block. There is also a small retail storefront that offers a wide selection of wines, meats, and cheeses, and of course some wonderful house-made baked goods.
“The KBC Butcher Block and Market is the ideal eatery for those who enjoy a serious, meaty sandwich," says Matt Elofson of the Dothan Eagle.