Born into a family that has a passion to cook, JR Crutcher, has been the Executive Chef of Cafe On The Corner since 2012. He has made a name for himself by working in the restaurant industry for the past 30 years. But, it was with his mother that he learned what he knows today. “I got to a point helping my mom cook that eventually she didn’t have to tell me what to get for her,” he says. “However, it wasn’t until I started working in restaurants that I had control over the kitchen. That was her kitchen.”
Chef Crutcher has worked all over Chattanooga including Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, Ruth’s Chris, Nikki’s and Jet Stream Grill. However it was Pickle Barrel, one of Chattanooga’s oldest restaurants, where he says his career took off. After learning from many of Chattanooga’s chefs, Chef Crutcher was able to create his own southern style of food. “He enhanced our menu by putting some signature spin on it,” says Cafe on the Corner owner Ruth Oehmig. “Chef is used to cooking on the fly. That’s how you know you have a good chef.”
This is not the first year that Chef Crutcher will compete in the Cast Iron Cook Off, however it will be his first year representing Cafe on the Corner. He competed in the event, while representing Jet Stream Grill, a few years back. Chef Crutcher has also been the TASTE! of Chattanooga winner for two years. He says that he is looking forward to putting his creative skills to work at this year’s competition. Seafood is not something new to this chef. He always has a seafood dish featured on his weekly special menu at the restaurant.
Presently, Chef Crutcher is working on the new seasonal menu for Cafe on the Corner, set to debut early fall. He and Oehmig are excited to bring back a favorite top choice of loyal patrons – local beef stew from Head River Farms. They will also be bringing back their personal favorite, the jambalaya, which will be featured as a weekly special. The restaurant is also planning a “Thank you” cookout for the firemen who helped during the fire the restaurant experienced back in 2014. Oehmig didn’t let the fire discourage her from rebuilding the restaurant and she is so grateful of all the help from the fire department and the community.