Before he opens his eclectic new American eatery, The Regional, in Avanti Food & Beverage on July 19, chef-owner Kevin Grossi decided to pack his bags, build a make-shift camper in the back of his Subaru, and embark upon a month-long, solo road trip across the South and the Midwest. The purpose of this excursion is simple: to find inspiration. The journey will take him to Asheville, Atlanta, Cedar Rapids, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kansas City, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville—and everywhere in between. Grossi plans to meet up with family members and friends along the way, but he will also be asking locals where to find good cooking that’s indigenous to those cities.
Already set with a few core menu items—including a roast pork sandwich, spicy fried chicken sandwich, oysters, Brunswick stew, and clam chowder—Grossi will take additional culinary inspiration from his trip. And while he plans to highlight specialties from across the country at the Regional (which will replace Poco Torteria on Avanti’s first floor), he also wants to showcase Colorado’s best seasonal produce. While driving from Kansas City to Memphis, Grossi chatted with us about what he hopes to bring back from his month on the road.
5280: You’re working your way through most of the Midwest and Southern states. What are you hoping this trip will bring to the menu and the ambiance of the Regional?
KG: It’s a memory that we are trying to recreate. We want people to eat food and be like, ‘Holy sh*t, that reminds me of when I was in New England or Missouri or Texas.’ But we aren’t trying to be obvious. For example, I’m so excited about our roast pork sandwich. If you happen to have been to Tommy DiNic’s in Philly, you would be like, ‘That is just like that sandwich.’ But even if people don’t relate to it, it’s just a good sandwich. My sous chef is from Atlanta, and he cooks from the heart. I want him to be able to duplicate something his mother did. Again, it’s like recreating these memories.
I am also looking for that quirkiness in the places [I visit]. I feel like Denver is such a melting pot when it comes to ideas and themes, so some of that quirkiness will blend into the final product. The fact that we are in Avanti and in a trailer is part of that, too. When it comes to hospitality, I really want to be like the Clam Shacks in New England. If you go to those places, they aren’t necessarily kissing your a**, so I want to add a little more authenticity to the lineup of the restaurants in town.