Meet The Couple Taking The Charlotte Food Scene By Storm
By DeAnna Taylor
Greg and Subrina Collier, the couple taking the Charlotte food scene by storm, didn’t meet in the Queen City. They met in Memphis, Tennessee, where Subrina was waiting tables and Greg was a cook at a local wing spot.
Subrina has been working in the foodservice industry since the age of 15. Greg attended culinary school in Arizona, where he learned the “what’s and why’s” of food.
We spoke with them about all of their amazing business ventures and their latest recognition in Charlotteans of the Year.
Travel Noire: When did you all open The Yolk? Describe this restaurant for us?
The Colliers: We opened The Yolk in the spring of 2012. The Yolk is an award-winning contemporary breakfast and brunch restaurant. We offer everything in the breakfast arena, from bacon and eggs to vegan grain bowls to chicken and waffles. Our theme is “a love affair with breakfast” because it perfectly describes our relationship as husband and wife along with our love for what we do.
TN: How did you get the position with Loft and Cellar? What is your vision as executive chef?
Greg: I got the Loft and Cellar position after meeting the owner, Jerry Mercer, in passing a few times at events and at the restaurant. A friend of ours and one of the Soul Food Sessions mixologists, Justin Hazelton, was a bartender there at the time. He expressed that they needed a chef and I told him that I would be glad to be a consulting chef to them. I love to help other businesses in any way that I can when it comes to my food knowledge. I love to express my creativity in food whenever I can.
At Loft and Cellar, I am able to play with the concept of “elevated bar food.” It’s still fun and casual, but always thoughtful. I aim to always stay thoughtful in any style of food that I make.
TN: Tell us about Soul Food Sessions.
The Colliers: Soul Food Sessions was created and founded by myself and 4 other minority chefs (Michael Bowling, Jamie Turner, Jamie Barnes, and Gregory Williams) in 2016 in Charlotte to display the talents of the often overlooked black chefs and give back to the community as a charity dinner. It started as a group of chefs who wanted to cook together as friends while showing off their chops in the kitchen beyond stereotypical “soul food.” We gave it that name almost to be sarcastic in a way. Most people see a black chef and assumes all they’re going to make is your standard style of collards, mac n’ cheese, chicken, etc. But if it’s a white chef cooking, he is not obligated to a particular type of food at all. He can make anything from “southern food,” which is really “soul food,” to Italian dishes or even Asian dishes.
During SFS, we pull from not only our homegrown roots here in America, but we also draw inspiration from Africa, the Islands, and other parts of the world. Not only are the chefs black men and women, the mixologists are too. We wanted to bring awareness to that and the lack of diversity of minorities in kitchen leadership positions. We teamed up with Coke Consolidated in 2018 and went on a tour to spread our message and give out scholarships in each city (DC, Baltimore, Charlotte, and Charleston) to deserving minority culinary students. We are hoping to continue the movement with Coke Consolidated in 2019 also.
TN: How did it feel to be recognized as “Charlotteans of the Year?”
The Colliers: It feels amazing to be recognized at all, but to be Charlotteans of the Year is truly humbling. We have really given our life to what we do and it feels good that a platform like Charlotte Magazine says “hey, we see you and you’re doing great. Keep it up.” It just keeps us motivated when there are days that you wonder why you chose that path.
TN: What are your future plans?
The Colliers: We will be moving The Yolk to Uptown Charlotte in early January 2019. We would love to have a location in South Carolina in the future. But we made the best move for us and moved to Charlotte. We are from Tennessee so we will expand The Yolk there in the near future as well. Our new Charlotte location is Uptown Yolk in the 7th Street Market in Uptown at 224 E. 7th Street.
In this location, we will also be offering a chef residency program. We know how hard it is to want to branch out on your own, but not have the capital to do so. So we will have a program at The Uptown Yolk location that allows chefs to sign a 60 to 90 day lease to use our location and equipment to assist in birthing and testing out their own concepts. Since we are breakfast and brunch focused, we are usually closed by 3pm daily. This way another chef can come in by 4pm and run his restaurant until 9pm. We want this space to be an incubator for up-and-coming talent and this is a great way to introduce them.
TN: Where can we find you on social media?
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.