Chef/owner Matt Gallaher opened Knox Mason, located on South Gay Street in Knoxville’s historic Old City.
Knox Mason, located on South Gay Street in Knoxville’s historic Old City, blends sleek, modern style with traditional Southern charm in a perfect reflection of its chef and owner, Matt Gallaher.
Knoxville-raised, Gallaher spent his early years helping in his mother’s tearoom, Miss Emily’s Fine Foods, but he never planned to become a chef. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee—which didn’t feel right—and was working in catering when another chef recognized his talent and took him on as an apprentice.
With 15 years of culinary experience, Gallaher applied to be a prep cook at the renowned Blackberry Farm resort in nearby Walland, Tenn. Instead, in an intense trial by fire, he was put on the line. Four years later, he was offered a job cooking for country star Martina McBride while she was on tour. It was supposed to be a short-lived adventure. It ended up being nearly five years—Gallaher toured the world, working for various artists (Neil Young was one), cooking meals in a new location with new suppliers and new ingredients nearly every day.
But when Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, asked Gallaher to come home in 2011, he said yes, becoming Executive Chef of the Tennessee Residence. The experience motivated Gallaher to finally open his own restaurant, Knox Mason, where spicy pork rinds, deviled eggs with rooster sauce and chow chow, and crispy duck leg confit, and seared Sunburst trout with Anson Mills farro risotto, butternut squash and smoked Cruze Farm creme fraiche are stand outs. There’s even a Benton’s bacon infused whiskey with fig vermouth and housemade bitters.
Knox Mason is open 4 to 11 p.m. (dinner service stops at 9 p.m.), Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday brunch is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit knoxmason.com or call 865.544.2004.