Corporate Executive Chef, Alexandria Restaurant Partners
Graham Duncan brings a wealth of culinary and restaurant management experience to his role as corporate executive chef at Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP). He was tapped for this new position in April of 2015, with his main focus on the conception and development of the menus for all ARP restaurants in Florida, Georgia and Virginia.
Since joining ARP, Duncan has kept busy updating the ARP concepts including The Majestic Café and Virtue Feed & Grain in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, while working on expanding the offerings at Café TuTu Tango in Orlando, Florida. Duncan is currently engaged with developing ARP’s newest small plates concept, Palette 22, anticipated to open in November, with a focus on what he likes to call “cutting edge and authentic global street food”.
Originally from South Florida, Graham pursued his passion for the kitchen by attending Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, earning his Culinary Arts degree in 1990. Graduating in the top five percent in his class, he immediately accepted the position of junior sous chef at the West Palm Beach bistro, Café des Artistes.
Subsequently Duncan held positions of increasing responsibility in Florida and Long Island, New York exploring and refining his techniques with different cuisines. He prepared French cuisine and pastry under Chef John Varnom at Au Bar/Au Sea in Palm Beach and Sag Harbor; Italian-Mediterranean under Chef Emile Labrousse in Fort Lauderdale at Casa Vecchia, and country French and Italian fare under Chef Ulrich Koepf at Bistro Mezzaluna, also in Fort Lauderdale.
In 1994, Duncan moved to Atlanta and assumed the position of executive sous chef at the Pacific Rim fusion restaurant, Azalea. He got his first taste of the local food movement in Atlanta as the top toque of City Grill, a position he held from 1999-2004. At this AAA 5-diamond rated fine dining restaurant, he worked with Georgia Grown Organic Farm Co-Op farmers, holding recognition dinners at the restaurant for local farmers, along with being one of the main market chefs at The Morningside Farmers Market. Duncan was also only the second chef in the region to exclusively feature Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses at City Grill.
During his time in Atlanta, he took over the kitchen at Fifth Group Restaurants’ regional Mexican concept, SALA-Sabor de Mexico in 2004, where he mastered the modern regional foods of Mexico with a concentration on the cuisines of Vera Cruz and Oaxaca.
Next, Duncan served as the executive chef for the Lettuce Entertain You concept, Wildfire Steaks, Chops & Seafood, from 2006 to 2008. Always looking to expand his knowledge, Duncan earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality & Restaurant Management from the New England Culinary Institute in 2006.
In 2008, Duncan moved to the metro Washington, D.C. area to serve as opening executive chef for Founding Farmer’s flagship location, which launched to great acclaim and recognition, including being named, in 2009, as Top 50 Best New Restaurant by Travel + Leisure and among the 100 Best Restaurants, by Washingtonian. While there, Duncan was instrumental in sourcing all produce, dairy, and meat from local farmers in Virginia and Maryland.
Duncan went on to serve as executive chef at McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant in Tysons Corner, Virginia, in 2009, before launching his own enterprise, Chefxpertise, in 2010, with a focus on creating culinary concepts, restaurant strategy, design, product innovations and culinary training for independent restaurant clients.
Duncan attributes his culinary forte, in part, to three key chefs’ influence in his career: Chef Ulrich Koepf taught him how to work concisely, 80 hours a week in a hot kitchen and “have fun doing it!” Chef Emile Labrousse showed him that the pot washer is just as important as the owner and customer, deserving the same respect. Chef John Varnom taught him to cook “down and dirty” for which he is eternally grateful.
Duncan currently lives in Burke, Virginia with his wife Maia, two daughters Annika and Kenna, and a little furry terror named Sophie. When not in the kitchen he can be found playing Frisbee golf, electric bass, or grilling lake trout on the deck.