John Currence was born and raised in New Orleans, LA to a family that loved to cook and spend time in the kitchen. His mother’s travels with his father during his childhood, combined with the family’s several years in Europe, brought the dishes of the world to their dinner table, while time spent hunting and fishing in South Louisiana began the education in the foods of his home.
Currence’s first cooking job was on a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, follwed by washing dishes at Bill Neal’s Crook’s Corner. An immediate fascination with the business prompted several supplemental jobs (baking bread at an Italian restaurant, butcher shop at a local grocery store, cutting salmon and bluefish at a local smokehouse, etc). He worked his way up and after three years, Currence returned to New Orleans as sous chef, before finally settling in Oxford and opening City Grocery followed by the rest of the Restaurants in the City Grocery Restaurant Group.
John Currence was recipient of both Restaurateur Of The Year and Chef Of The Year awards from the Mississippi Restaurant Association in 1998. In 2006, he received the Southern Foodways Alliance Guardian of Tradition Award and won the 2008 Great American Seafood Cookoff in New Orleans. In 2009, he was awarded the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef South and was a winner of Charleston Food and Wine Festival’s Iron Chef Challenge.