Chef Chris McDonald, co-chef and co-owner of The Bottle of Huntsville, Alabama, has received the highest honor bestowed by Georgia-based poultry producer Springer Mountain Farms, the Celebrate the Chef Award. The award is presented to a select handful of chefs that demonstrate culinary excellence, consistency in the dining experience and a commitment to the use of fresh and local ingredients.
“With just one look at Chef Chris’ menu at The Bottle, you can see his inspiration from working at some of the best restaurants in New York City, including Le Bernardin and Tavern on the Green,” says Dale Faunce, marketing director for Springer Mountain Farms. “He takes great pride in sourcing ingredients from local and regional farms, and we truly value that mission in our partner chefs. We’re proud that Chef Chris is the first Celebrate the Chef honoree in the Huntsville and Alabama markets.”
The Bottle, located in the heart of downtown Huntsville, features Southern cuisine with a French influence and a changing seasonal menu. McDonald also is co-chef and co-owner of Humphrey’s Bar & Grill next to The Bottle.
“It feels great to be noticed by Springer Mountain Farms. I’ve been using Springer for over 15 years in various restaurants, and you can taste the difference. We not only use Springer at The Bottle but Humphrey’s as well,” McDonald says. “We take great pride in the quality of the ingredients we prepare, and partner with local farmers and suppliers to get the best of the best to serve in our restaurants.”
McDonald was born in upstate New York, and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1985. He then began working at Tavern on the Green before joining the opening team at Le Bernardin, both in New York City. In only four years at Le Bernardin, McDonald worked his way up the ranks to sous chef during the time it was named one of the top 50 restaurants in the world.
After getting married and moving to Atlanta, McDonald opened the Atlanta Fish Market in 1992. He moved to Winchester, Tennessee, to be closer to his wife’s family after having two daughters. McDonald started working in Huntsville in 2002, opening Humphrey’s, Pauli’s Chop House, Sazio and Starfish with the Washington Square Group. He joined Restaurant Partners in 2006, and opened Grill 29 and Market Street Café. Since returning to the Washington Square property in 2013, McDonald has overseen The Bottle, Humphrey’s Bar & Grill, and the newly formed Washington Square Catering Company.
Throughout his career, McDonald has become known for creating a special customer experience from the kitchen to the front of the house. “Fresh ingredients are so important because they showcase the true flavor of the ingredient. I go out to the tables to make sure everyone is having a good experience and good meal. It makes all the difference in the world. Whether it’s in the kitchen or in the dining room, it’s all about the details,” McDonald says.