Dining Room Hours: Sun 11:30a-10p | Mon-Thur 5p-10p | Fri-Sat 11:30a-11p | Full Menu served
Bar Hours: Sun 11:30a-10p| Mon-Thur 5p-12a | Fri-Sat 11:30a-2a
Cracker Cuisine, Defined
Cracker cuisine is a tribute to old school Florida culture and the would-be cowboys who populated our state in the early- to mid-1900s. It draws heavy influence from the Scottish, Irish, African and Spanish cultures, but few recipes were ever recorded. We pored through regional vintage cookbooks and sought oral pioneer histories from multi-generational Florida Crackers to garner inspiration and unique insight into Florida’s “back woods” culture of the time.
It all started about 20 years ago. A young cook named Greg Baker was working the line at an upscale French restaurant. One night during a particularly hectic service, as the ticket meter began its mechanical song and the chef barked orders, Greg had an epiphany. He looked at the comis working beside him, peered out at the well-heeled patrons in the dining room, looked down at the freshly tattooed black widow spider on his forearm and said, “Good food is wasted on people who can afford it.”
Motivated by the idea that good food should be made available to everyone, Greg embarked on a mission that would eventually turn Tampa’s dining scene upside down. In 2010, Greg’s vision became a reality when he and his wife, Michelle, opened The Refinery. Founded on the principle that good food is a necessity, not a right, the pair has accomplished exactly what they set out to do—serve elevated food at prices that don’t break the bank.
Four years later, the Bakers took their mission a step further and expanded their restaurant footprint to include Fodder & Shine. Here, they aim to give folks a glance into Florida’s rich cultural heritage through food and drink.
Greg Baker, HMFIC
Clearwater, FL raised Greg Baker set his sights on Western Culinary Institute in Portland, OR directly out of high school. He chose to leave the sunshine and white sandy beaches (and a fully paid college tuition) for diverse farmland, abundant adventurous eaters and an awesome punk rock scene. It would be in Portland where he would find his love and cement his respect for the elegance of Poor Man Food. Forging partnerships with local farmers for nearly a decade, Greg took these lessons back home to Tampa Bay where he would single handedly change the culinary scene by putting faces to farmers and daringly utilize all aspects of proteins. To do this successfully, he was forced to change his menu every week. In the beginning, there were only crickets; with each week passing he forged a new food climate in an area known for little culinary creativity. He now boasts thousands of food fans that travel from all over to enjoy his creations. But Baker remains very humbled by his success often being quoted “I’m just a dumb kid who cooks.”
Baker opened The Refinery with his wife; Michelle, in 2010 in the historic neighborhood of Seminole Heights, Tampa. His menus incorporate the flavors of the vast countrysides from across the globe, mixed with classical French technique all the while keeping in mind Florida’s rich cultural history. He is known for resurrecting nearly lost Florida ingredients and cooking techniques, for whole animal butchery, whole vegetable use, and for being an avid defender of farmer worker rights and policy reform.
Both The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Bay Times consider the Refinery one of the most prized restaurants of Tampa Bay. Chef Greg and The Refinery has been named in Bon Appetit , Southern Living, Conde Nast Traveler, Forbes.com, Esquire Magazine, New York Magazine, The Local Palate, USA Today, The Washington Post, Edible Tampa Bay and Garden & Gun Magazine as well as countless local and national online and weekly publications. Southern Living Magazine named The Refinery Best 100 Restaurants in the South 2014. Celebrity Chef Mario Batali included Greg in his most recent cookbook; America: Farm to Table, for his work with local pig farmers. Greg currently can be read at Food Republic.com. Zagat rated The Refinery ‘Best Restaurant’ 2012 - 2015. The James Beard Foundation named The Refinery as a semi-finalist Best New Restaurant in 2011 and named Baker a semi-finalist for Best Chef South in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. When he’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find Greg kayaking, trying to fish, drinking craft beers, sipping on bourbons and spending time with his pit bull Ricky Bobby, his jerk cat Handsome Dick Manatoba and wife, Michelle.
Michelle Baker, BOSS LADY
Michelle grew up in a bonafide Southern kitchen in Port Richey, FL. Her mother –having been raised partly in Biloxi, MS and partly Tampa, FL- taught her early on that all good things come from the south, especially shrimp etouffee, honey roasted hams and buttery biscuits.
Because of this upbringing, Michelle has always found comfort hosting dinner parties for friends or mixing a good cocktail from the juices found in the fridge. It was only natural that she find her way into the hospitality industry to make ends meet while attending college. Her adult life would lead her in and out of restaurants, 24 hour diners, famous night clubs and little cafes. She has truly done every job under a restaurant roof.
Through the years, Michelle did try to leave the hospitality industry, trying her luck at different careers; fashion model, personal chef, buyer, Tampa Tribune food writer, professional food stylist but she always went back to the grind of the restaurants. She craved the customer interaction. In October of 2009, she finally told her husband that it was time to open their own restaurant. They both thought “what the hell”. As luck would have it, they did know what they were doing or perhaps are just really good at faking it.
Michelle has been honored by countless business publications for her modern approach to the restaurant industry including being named by Tampa Bay Business Journal as an “Up and Comer Under 40 Years Old” for her business prowess.
When Michelle is not working you’ll find her taking on class IV+ rapids, longing to finish her novel, snuggling with her kitty cats, laughing at her goofy pit bull and absorbing as much time as possible with her husband, Greg.
Ben Baylies, THE GOLDEN BOY
As the residing genuine Florida Cracker, Ben Baylies has spent his entire life in Florida. Being raised in a Florida Cracker kitchen, he watched his grandmother, mother and older cousins preparing traditional Southern family suppers. This; naturally, helped develop his passion for American Southern fare.
At 15 he took his first job as busboy at Castaways in Tampa where he quickly transitioned into kitchen work. Like any good kid, he gave college the…well, old college try but it was not for him. He packed up and returned to his beloved Tampa where he joined Lee Roy Selmon’s. He quickly worked his way up into Kitchen Manager but Tampa was till on his mind. He moved back home and joined the team at Oxford Exchange when word began to spread of the Baker’s new concept; Fodder & Shine. He jumped at the opportunity to be a part of something from the ground up and to work for people he admired and respected. He took a position as a line cook and let his work ethic - along with love and appreciation for people and food - shine through.
When he’s not in the restaurant he enjoys reading, going to see live music, and exploring the Seminole Heights community with friends