Across from the Watauga County courthouse sits a gem, a restaurant that brings to the table quality service, inspired culinary creations and a relaxed atmosphere. Vidalia of Boone is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the High Country.
Team Vidalia Boom from Boone: Sam Ratchford, Vidalia Restaurant co-owner and executive chef; Julius Kalman, Vidalia Restaurant co-owner; and Jason Walsh, Vidalia Restaurant chef.
Sam Ratchford, the executive chef and owner of Vidalia restaurant in downtown Boone, has many accolades to back up his cooking. His talents have garnered him two back-to-back appearances in the Fire on the Rock competition held annually: Ratchford made it to the finale of the 2013 competition and to the semifinals in 2014. “I started doing dishes when I was 16,” Ratchford said of the humble beginnings of his culinary career. “I started to work for some older chefs and they started teaching me how to cook, that was how I started to get interested in it. I went to New England Culinary Institute in Vermont in 1998 and I have been cooking ever since.” Ratchford’s passion comes from his creative nature, and he comes to work every day to what he considers his dream job.“I really can’t see myself doing a 9 to 5 sit down job,” he said with a smile. “I like to be on my feet and be creative.”His creativity and his passion for cooking began at his roots. Sam grew up in the High Country, in Blowing Rock to be exact, after his family moved to the area in 1983. He started working at various restaurants in the area honing his skills, until he became the chef at Storie Street Grille in Blowing Rock. There, he sharpened his craft, and at the same time happened upon his now wife, Alyce.