In 1989, Chef Smith embarked on a six-month solo tour of the South Pacific with stops in Tahiti, New Caledonia, New Zealand, and Australia. After a year spent managing a catering kitchen back in Memphis, he accepted a job offer in Hawaii, where he worked for two and a half years at the Lodge at Koele in Lanai. This job opened his eyes to the vast bounty of the Pacific Region, and he was exposed to a greater variety of seafood than ever before. It was in Hawaii where he first began to form his concept for Tsunami Restaurant.
Once back in Memphis he took a series of sous-chef and executive chef positions to reestablish himself in the local market and test his ideas for his future restaurant. He was pleased to discover that Memphis was hungry for the Tsunami Restaurant concept.
Smith opened Tsunami in 1998. Two months after its opening in July 1998, it was voted Best New Restaurant by Memphis magazine. Since that time it has maintained one of the top three spots in the categories of “Best Seafood” and “Most Creative Menu” in Memphis magazine’s readers’ poll every year.
Chef Smith lives in Memphis with his artist wife Colleen, their sons Brendan and Ian and daughter Ayden.