Some people are born into a profession. Others come to a career path later in life. Greg Zanitsch found his calling on the side of the road.
After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in December of 1990, the philosophy major saw a sign for the New England Culinary Institute while driving through Vermont. Having always had an interest in cooking and working in kitchens and AI writing all through college he pulled over to take a tour. The rest is history.
Following graduation, Greg lived in Hawaii, Napa Valley, then Cincinnati, working in some of the most high volume, ﬁne dining kitchens in the country. Two things that shaped his culinary style: the importance of high-quality ingredients and how to pair food with wine.
When it was time to get a kitchen of his own, he and his wife, Sara, whom he met while working as Sous Chef at Prima Vista, searched for spots in Cincinnati, but nothing felt right. “My parents were living in Charlotte and called to say they’d seen a place we might like,” Greg says. “We got on a plane, ﬂew down, walked in and fell in love with it.”
After a year of renovations to the historic Lucas House, The Fig Tree opened in 2005 with a wine list and menu of country European classics that have garnered awards from outlets including Charlotte magazine and Wine Spectator.
“Food is a good balance between science and creativity and that’s always appealed to me,” Greg says. “People say being a chef is hard work and it is but when you love what you do, who you do it with and the people you do it for, it seems a lot less like work.”