Q&A: The Worthington Inn's new executive chef

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Chef Mike Waters

After 13 years at The Worthington Inn, chef Tom Smith left the historic restaurant to open a pizza shop in Upper Sandusky.Mike Waters, who worked for Smith for seven years, has stepped into the executive chef role. Waters, once executive chef at Hoster Brewing Co., hopes to continue, and expand upon, Smith's legacy at the historic

How did you become a chef?When I was almost done with my engineering degree, I got gripped with fear that I would be sitting in front of a screen forever. I backed out and went backpacking in California for six months. Later, a couple of people came to me separately and said, "Why don't you become a chef?" So I enrolled in Columbus State [culinary program].

Smith was a huge advocate for local sourcing. Will you continue that mission?I'm going to expand our involvement. The local food movement is really important, not only on its environmental impact, but also in keeping the revenue stream local. One of the most exciting parts of my job is meeting the farmers and getting to know them.

How will the menu change?I'm not making sweeping changes. There are details and nuances on the menu that I'm already responsible for. Right now, we're buttermilk-marinating and frying our roasted chicken. I did a lot of extensive experimentation on that execution.

Thirteen years is a long time. Do you plan on staying as long as Smith?I'm going to be 50 next year, and this is where I belong. This is where I want to be.