By LISA WHALEY
Boone Street Market, Chef Seelye Coombs has quite a lot on his plate lately.
Not only has Coombs introduced a new offering of freshly prepared, locally grown, and ready-to-eat-dishes at Jonesborough’s favorite downtown market, he’s also busy getting ready to dazzle palates at his first National Storytelling Festival, set for October.
And he’s relishing every bite.
“I love food,” Coombs explained of his new role as chef in residence at Boone Street Market. “It’s my communication to the world. That’s how I interact with the community. It’s my heart.
“Food brings people together.”
Seelye has only been at the market a few months, but has already developed a love of the town and its locally grown premise.
“Jonesborough has a really cool feel to it,” he said with a wide smile.
Born in West Virginia, Seelye lived in Washington County previously, though he spent much of his growing up years in Michigan.
A graduate of Southeast Culinary & Hospitality College in Bristol, Virginia, Coombs recently moved back to Jonesborough to be closer to his family and help his dad move to Jonesborough from West Virginia.
That was how the part-time position at Boone Street Market caught his eye.
“A couple of my friends sent me emails about this job opportunity,” Coombs said. He interviewed, got the job and began turning the local produce that was pouring in into delicious dishes for diners in search of easy fresh food.
“I look at whatever we get in on a weekly basis, and then I come up with the menu ideas,” Coombs said. “Whatever is coming in is what I’m going to be cooking that week.”
Some weeks the chef’s flavors might turn Asian; in other’s Indian flavors may reign. And in still others, good old Southern cooking might be the bill of the day.
“I try to make it different every week,” he said.
Coombs has been enjoying the challenge, always excited to see what’s in the basket each week in Jonesborough own real-life version of “Chopped,” where creativity and the expertise to take what’s available and turn it into something wonderful always wins the day.
He is also passionate about the message he believes “Chef Seelye’s” creations and the market itself are sending.
“My eventual goal is to be able to have a variety of places for people to come eat local, as well as get people more into shopping locally eating locally and knowing where their food comes from,” he said. “I want it to be as local as possible. Just simple good food.
“I’ve done fancy restaurants and the high end,” Coombs continued. “That just never was my gig. This is perfect. It’s right up my alley.”