Chef Will Hughes is a familiar name to residents of the Eastern Shore. After 10 years away from the South Baldwin culinary scene, he is back as the executive chef at Provision on Section Street in …
Chef Will Hughes is a familiar name to residents of the Eastern Shore. After 10 years away from the South Baldwin culinary scene, he is back as the executive chef at Provision on Section Street in Fairhope.
Timing, a random phone call and stars aligning can all be credited with Hughes' homecoming.
"For the last 10 years I have worked in North Carolina in the summer, and I was trying to find a way to move back home. I cleaned out our catering kitchen and I called him (Hanes) to sell him a refrigerator," Hughes said. "He called me back and asked what I thought about coming to work here. It worked out because I am able to move home and be home year-round instead of being gone half the year. It worked out well."
William Hanes, president of Provision and Hughes have a history going back to before Provision opened in May 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic kept delaying the business' opening and hiring. Just weeks before the projected opening Hanes and his wife Elizabeth realized they were not prepared.
"Before we opened, we were full on panicking because we were supposed to open with some sort of menu and we had no idea what we were doing," Hanes said. "We called Will and told him we were about to open this place we are dying; will you give us two weeks and help us open the doors. My wife said she would sell her car to pay for it if she had to. She said we were going to get slaughtered if we don't get help."
Hughes came to their rescue and helped them get the doors open to what some call Fairhope's living room. Through the experience, Hughes and Hanes became friends. Their families go to the same church and they have collaborated together on projects here and there.
When the idea of hiring Hughes came up, Hanes jumped at the chance.
"It was a timing thing where he was looking for some new opportunities and we jumped all over that because he is a local celebrity chef," Hanes said.
What changes can patrons expect?
Provision regulars have already jumped at the first new menu item.
Two days a week, patrons can pre-order take-away family dinners that serve four or eight people. Pickups occur each Tuesday and Thursday and the menu changes weekly.
An example of a recent meal is grilled pork loin with fig and rosemary sweet potato, apple and Brussel sprout hash. The regular size feeds four to six and is a bargain at $45.
According to Hanes and Hughes, the plan is to have incremental changes to the menu and add specials here and there. Hughes said he plans to make the menu more seasonal as soon as winter begins.
Provision has become a popular place for rehearsal dinners, large parties and events. Hanes said he is looking forward to seeing the menu and catering go up a notch thanks to Hughes experience.
Now that he is back on his home turf, Hughes said he is looking forward to seeing old friends come in. He is also looking to expand other aspects of the culinary business. Patrons will begin to see more items in the deli case like soups and salads.