Raised in Clearwater, Florida, Greg Baker set his sights on Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon directly out of high school. He chose to leave the sunshine and white sandy beaches (and a fully paid college tuition) for diverse farmland, abundant adventurous eaters and an awesome punk rock scene. It would be in Portland where he would find his love and cement his respect for the elegance of “Poor Man Food”. Forging partnerships with local farmers for nearly a decade, Greg took these lessons back home to Tampa Bay where he would single handedly change the culinary scene by putting faces to farmers and daringly utilize all aspects of proteins. To do this successfully, he was forced to change his menu every week. In the beginning, there were only the sound of crickets. But with each week passing, Greg forged a new food climate in an area known for little culinary creativity. He now boasts thousands of food fans that travel from all over to enjoy his creations. But Baker remains very humbled by his success often being quoted “I’m just a dumb kid who cooks.”
Baker opened The Refinery with his wife Michelle in 2010, in the historic neighborhood of Seminole Heights, Tampa. His menus incorporate the flavors of the vast countrysides from across the globe, mixed with classical French technique all the while keeping in mind Florida’s rich cultural history. He is known for resurrecting nearly lost Florida ingredients and cooking techniques, for whole animal butchery, whole vegetable use, and for being an avid defender of farmer worker rights and policy reform.
Both The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Bay Times consider The Refinery one of the most prized restaurants of Tampa Bay. Chef Greg and The Refinery has been named in Bon Appetit , Southern Living, Conde Nast Traveler, Forbes.com, Esquire Magazine, New York Magazine, The Local Palate, USA Today, The Washington Post, Edible Tampa Bay and Garden & Gun Magazine as well as countless local and national online and weekly publications. Southern Living Magazine named The Refinery Best 100 Restaurants in the South 2014. Celebrity Chef Mario Batali included Greg in his most recent cookbook; America: Farm to Table, for his work with local pig farmers. Greg currently can be read at Food Republic.com. Zagat rated The Refinery ‘Best Restaurant’ 2012 – 2015. The James Beard Foundation named The Refinery as a semi-finalist Best New Restaurant in 2011 and named Baker a semi-finalist for Best Chef South in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.