Executive Chef/Partner Yellow Rocket Concepts[dropcap]S[/dropcap]cott Thomas McGehee was born in Fayetteville and raised in Little Rock. As a boy, he was inspired to be a cook by both his great-grandmother Ruby Thomas (of the Red Apple Inn) and his father, Frank McGehee (Blue Mesa Grill, Juanita’s).
After attending the University of Arkansas, McGehee was an honors graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, followed by a position as line chef at Alice Waters’s famed Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California.
In 1999, McGehee returned to Little Rock and opened Boulevard Bread Company — a gourmet bakery, delicatessen and café that quickly became a beloved Little Rock institution. In 2004 and 2006 Scott opened River Market and UAMS Medical Center locations of Boulevard Bread Company.
McGehee opened ZaZa Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Company in Little Rock in 2008; then ZaZa Conway; Big Orange Burgers, Salads and Shakes (West, Midtown Little Rock and soon to open in Rogers); Local Lime Tacos and Margaritas; Lost 40 Brewing; and Heights Taco and Tamale.
With his exceptional partners and team, McGehee aspires to continue to develop and open new and exciting restaurants, and to be a small part of the success of all the people around him.
Hometown: Born in Fayetteville (while my dad was playing football for the Razorbacks), raised in Little Rock.
First job: Mowing grass and pumping diesel fuel at “Brownies” on East Broadway in North Little Rock.
What’s an interesting fact about you that would surprise others? I love stars, geology, science and nature as much as food!
What are you passionate about? Having an extremely positive impact on every person I meet, especially my children, team and other creative people and chefs in town.
Favorite place in the world: Home
One word that describes you: My kids would say “positive” I believe. I preach and practice positivity daily!
Favorite food: The “summer plate” — thickly sliced Arkansas tomatoes, purple hull peas, green tomato pickle, pone bread and any other summer vegetables in season.
Volunteer work: Yellow Rocket works with hundreds of organizations, but our “just say yes” policy especially kicks in when supporting marginalized communities, kids, hungry people and hospitals.
What is the accomplishment you’re most proud of? My three children, no contest. They are SO amazing. They make me look good.
What do you love about what you do? I’ve always loved seeing people’s reaction when I cook them something delicious, but seeing young people in jeopardy grow and blossom into amazing happy humans is really what it’s all about for me. There’s no greater satisfaction at work.
What’s left on your bucket list? A restaurant honoring my great-grandmother and Arkansas food culture.
Photo by Jamison Mosley