Executive Chef/Partner, Acre Restaurant
A San Antonio, Texas native with permanent roots in Auburn, AL, Bancroft is a self-taught chef, farmer, and forager committed to showcasing sustainable ingredients and local harvests. In August 2013, Bancroft and his wife opened Acre restaurant in Auburn, AL. The seasonally-influenced menu reinterprets the rich heritage of Alabama cuisine and celebrates sustainable ingredients sourced from the on-site gardens & local bounty of the surrounding community. In November 2018, Bancroft opened his second restaurant concept, Bow & Arrow, an interpretation of a South Texas smokehouse juxtaposed with the communal and casual dining approach of an Alabama potluck. Bancroft is a 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: South” award and winner of Food Network’s “Iron Chef Showdown” competition in 2017.
Any emerging industry trends?
I love the fact that the entire South is now recognizing and celebrating the true “melting pot” that is “The South.” Paying true homage and respect to all of the real origins of Southern foods – this trend is here to stay!
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
One of the biggest challenges that I know frustrates all chefs and restauranteurs is the convenience of restaurant review apps available directly in a person’s lap. Social media seems to have made everyone a foodie and a critic. In all honesty, as much as it does connect us, it equally disconnects us from true interaction and true emotion. Emoji buttons don’t really make me feel loved and your negative review really does affect my business and really does hurt my family.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the business?
I have so many vivid memories of my Grandpa Kennedy out on his south Alabama farm. His life was the embodiment of farm to table, sustainability, and most of all, survival. He utilized every single inch of land to his advantage. Acre is my continuation of his life and his legacy. Acre is set on one full working acre of land and is wrapped in an edible landscape, from peaches and plums to watermelon patches and corn fields.
What’s next for the business in the near future?
My goals and vision for the future is not based on money-making opportunities or the next up and coming chain concepts. Instead, my vision for the future is centered around how to be a better servant to my family, my team, and my community. The restaurant and hospitality industries have an obligation to treat employees well: happy, healthy cooks make happy, healthy food!
Your most difficult moment at the Business?
One of my best qualities as a chef/restaurateur is the ability and willingness to adapt. Hard-headed, stubborn chefs don’t last long in this industry in my opinion. Listen to your guest, listen to your family, and listed to your staff! The best dish can always be better.
Career advice to those in your industry?
If you are not feeling inspired or if you get stuck in a rut, get outside and away from fluorescent lights. Plug yourself back into your food source. Visit a farm, go foraging, go fishing, volunteer somewhere, go on a vacation, experience life, meet people, dive into another culture, and plug yourself back into passion!
What makes me the best version of myself?
I love people, and I love cooking for people. But, most of all, I love serving people. Your visit to Acre is probably much more important to me than it may be for you. I hope that after you meet me and my team, you will fully understand that we provide much more than food for cash. The only way we can provide a high level of service and genuine hospitality is if my staff experiences the same treatment. My job starts way before the first guest arrives.
What are my aspirations?
I hope that my wife Christin and I are able to provide a healthy and safe working environment for our team. We strive to help their careers and prepare them with the knowledge they will need in the future.
“Get back to loving so you can get back to living!”
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Definitely my wife and my parents