Steven Bunner, Executive Chef
Deciding to found a new restaurant in Huntsville meant Steve would stay in his hometown and not return to Alaska for the summer as he had many of the preceding years to serve as the Executive Sous Chef at 229 Parks. It was in Denali, Alaska, with its short and intense growing season, that Steve developed his passion for creating cuisine from locally grown, freshly harvested & sustainable sources.
Steve studied Philosophy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, all the while entertaining a large cadre of friends with creative dinner parties. The draw of the kitchen led Steve to the Montpelier, Vermont and the New England Culinary Institute (NECI). After in-depth, hands on training, Steve moved to Atlanta, Georgia for an externship at the 5 Star/5 Diamond Seeger’s. It was here that the young chef was led to hone his skills in preparation of fish dishes. Upon completion of the externship and thus his training at NECI, Steve leveraged the schools connections to secure a summer position in Alaska and a summer opportunity as the Chef de Partie at the 4 Star/4 Diamond Café Boulud at the heart of the Brazilian Court Hotel and Beach Club in Palm Beach, Florida. Steve led a team of half a dozen chefs in the preparation of small plates and appetizers for the French-American menu under the guidance of Chef Zach Bell, a James Beard Foundation nominee for “Best Chef in the South”.
It was during his tenure at Café Boulud that Steve decided that he would return to work in Alaska with Chef Laura Cole, the owner of 22 Parks. The lure of such a diametric environment and the interest in understanding the connection of farmers, fisherman and chefs brought about many more summer relocations to Alaska. The winters in Alaska force the closure of Park 229 for several months, so Steve often returned home to Huntsville for stints as Executive Chef at The Heritage Club and, most recently, Cotton Row’s Daytime Sous Chef. Steve’s vision for Cotton Row’s lunch program has changed downtown’s mid-day dining expectations.
After enjoying the market, coffee and people in the 5 Points area, Steve knew he had the found the right location to apply his own unique vision for food-farmer-neighborhood interactions. The former Zestos/Sazio location would be the location for an experiment in developing a new type of food experience in Huntsville. Often professing, “casual dining should be no less exceptional than formal”, Steve directs the team of chefs and servers to achieve the goals and flavor of 1892 East.
Mike Burleson, General Manager
For years, a passion for cooking and brewing intersected with electrical engineering and accounting while pursuing his degrees. During this time, many a weekend was filled with sautéing, grilling, baking and ultimately dining with fraternity brothers admiring the detailed preparations. Mike had an opportunity to refine his management skills and apply his business knowledge while at the WildFlour Bistro before moving into the ‘real world’ of engineering at a local defense contractor. However, the opportunity to fulfill a college-made of dream running a restaurant with his boyhood friend, Chef Steve, ultimately proved too enticing. An electrical engineer with a MBA, Mike brings a unique perspective to guiding the dining experience at 1892 East.