“Food of Love,” Chef Anne Kearney’s motto, says it all, keeping the chef and her staff ever mindful of their mission to create culinary excellence in every dish that is placed before a guest.
For Chef Kearney, the words are close to her heart. Her passion for culinary perfection and the “sense of place” she feels in the kitchen, will always be the cornerstones of her dedication to her chosen career.
After graduating from Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, Kearney followed her dream, entering the Greater Cincinnati Culinary Art Academy. After finishing her studies in 1988, Anne worked in Cincinnati for Jim Tarbell at Grammer’s. Kearney then went on to New Orleans to work under the late chef John Neal at the acclaimed Bistro at the Maison de Ville Hotel. When Great Chef Neal left to open Peristyle in late 1991, he took Kearney along as his Sous Chef. Kearney credits Neal for her tutelage in classic French cooking techniques, but also for perfecting her own palate and prompting her discovery of new tastes and the depths of flavor.
“His passion for his work was so real, it was almost tangible,” says Kearney. I will always hold with me the image of John hovering over a tiny pot that held what would become a perfect pink pea risotto. He would stir and taste, stir and taste, until it was absolutely perfect.”
In 1992, Kearney took leave of Peristyle for a three-year tenure with Great Chef Emeril Lagasse. Kearney spent most of the first two years sweating it out on the Emeril’s restaurant cook line, working at the frenetic pace only an institution of that caliber could command. Then she moved behind the scenes to advance her restaurant knowledge, researching and formulating recipes for Lagasse’s television program, Essence of Emeril, in addition to developing and testing recipes for his cookbook “Louisiana: Real and Rustic.” However, her passion for hands-on food preparation remained, and she sought an opportunity to return to work in the kitchen.
Kearney purchased Peristyle shortly after the April 1995 death of John Neal. Though she made the menu her own immediately upon taking over the helm, she remains ever mindful of incorporating Chef Neal’s legacies whenever possible: from cuisine (“Respect for the food and proper preparation from start to finish was expected. Nothing marginal was accepted.”) to the dining experience itself (“We seated 62 people by design. It was our intent to create an intimate dining experience. This is important to the staff and even more important to our guests. I was able to experiment with recipes, work with the cooks on the line, and visit the guests.”).
Chef Kearney was awarded The James Beard Foundation’s title of “Best Chef Southeast” in 2002.
Kearney discovered her interest in food through her family while growing up in Dayton. Kearney’s mother always had a garden and cooked what it provided. Her grandfather owned a lodge and would entertain a different cabin each night with one of his special meals-while Anne watched, helped where she could, and absorbed it all.
In 2004, with Anne’s father suffering from Alzheimer’s, Anne and her husband Tom returned to Dayton to be near both of their families. The new restaurant she and Tom envisioned was born as Rue Dumaine in 2007. Located in the South Dayton suburb of Washington Township, Rue Dumaine offers an unforgettable experience in casual fine dining. The ambiance includes subtle southern accents brought up from New Orleans, such as wrought iron railings and ceiling fans over the patio. They have developed a local following and instituted special events for their most loyal diners. Years of studies, cooking on the line, assisting stellar chefs, and Anne’s private trials, have matured Chef Anne’s cuisine into an Americanized version of classically-styled French Provençal fare. Ultimately, however, wherever she is cooking, the cuisine reflects her motto: “Food of Love.”
The Great Chefs team recorded Anne at her Peristyle restaurant in 1992 where she prepared seared squab, smoked salmon, and an almond pear tart, all of which were featured in the Great Chefs, Louisiana New Garde series.