Chef Kyle McKnight says a need for new sneakers landed him in a restaurant kitchen. As a teen, the Woodbridge, Virginia native needed money for a pair of Adidas, so found a job washing dishes. Soon, he was running away to France to cook with master chefs. A graduate of Johnson and Wales University, McKnight's career led him through Europe, Charleston, Miami, St. John and Argentina before he found a home at Hickory's acclaimed Highland Avenue Restaurant. McKnight has cooked alongside acclaimed chefs Tom Colicchio, Sean Brock, Chris Edwards, Theirry Vergnalut and Phil Corr, and was named a Best Chef America 2012 to 2015 for his commitment to the slow food movement and his advocacy of local farmers in both Wilmington and Hickory, North Carolina. He also earned a Good Food Award with Bev Eggelston in 2013. McKnight is creating inspiring cuisine from the bounty of North Carolina land and sea. He is now pursuing other opportunities, spend more time with loved ones and helping with charities.