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The Zest Podcast: Chef Anne Kearney Brings Her French Flair To Tampa

Anne Kearney
Oak & Ola
Chef Anne Kearney


Chef Anne Kearney is a James Beard Award winner, protégé of Emeril Lagasse and the culinary innovator behind one of Tampa’s most talked-about new restaurants, Oak & Ola.  



Her career got its start when, as a teenager in Dayton, Ohio, she was given the job of cooking dinner for her family and began catering parties for friends.  She earned her culinary degree and went on to work under the renowned chef John Neal in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she honed her classic French cooking techniques. When Neal died in 1995, the 27-year-old Kearney bought his restaurant, Peristyle, and added her own touches to the menu. She says Emeril Lagasse personally vouched for her potential at the time, convincing bankers to back her venture and launch her career. 


In 2002, the James Beard Foundation christened her Best Chef in the Southeast. Soon after, Anne returned to her native Dayton to open Rue Dumaine, a New Orleans-style eatery that put her back in the national spotlight. Now, Anne brings her self-described “food of love” to Tampa Heights. In February, she and her partners opened Oak & Ola, a full-service restaurant at the Armature Works food hall. 


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Robin Sussingham was Senior Editor at WUSF until September 2020.
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