Chef Stephen Williams loves to create beautiful, flavorful dishes for his patrons at Bouquet Restaurant – and he comes by it honestly. As a child, Stephen developed a love for food while watching his two grandmothers prepare traditional southern fare, like country ham, green beans, and angel biscuits. He spent time watching his Nana fry up sides of bacon while serving egg and cheese sandwiches to coal truck drivers who stopped for lunch at her restaurant in the foothills of Eastern Kentucky.
Stephen also has a love of art, which led him to pursue a degree in Fine Art Photography from the University of Kentucky. After graduating with his BFA, he moved to the Cincinnati area to help his friend open a new restaurant, Otto’s. Settling into an apartment next door, it was at Otto’s that Stephen discovered his true passion for southern cooking. Deciding to further his culinary education, Stephen enrolled at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State in 2005. At the same time, he was hired on at Jean Robert’s French/Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Paris, in Oakley. There he was exposed to an entirely new world of techniques, ingredients, and flavors, which influence his menus to this day. He decided to open his first restaurant right beneath his apartment in the Covington, KY neighborhood of Mainstrasse he had come to call home. The restaurant doubled in size when Stephen renovated his former living space and opened a second floor dining room in 2012, complete with a full bar and a private dining room.
In the years since opening Bouquet, Stephen’s commitment to farm-to-table dining has garnered accolades from top publications, fellow chefs, and diners alike. Bouquet has been named the “Best Restaurant in Kentucky” by Business Insider and has earned a spot on Cincinnati Magazine’s influential “Top Ten” list six years in a row. Williams’ ingenuity as a chef earned him a coveted spot in the 2014 “Cincy in NYC” trip, where eight of Cincinnati’s top chefs combined forces for one amazing dinner at New York’s James Beard House.
Chef Williams channels his dedication to the community into his work with various local charities and organizations, including collaborations with the Freestore Foodbank, the SIDS Foundation, and the scholarship fund at the Midwest Culinary Institute. He is especially passionate about his leadership role within the Ohio River Valley Local Group of Chefs Collaborative. Stephen continues to live in Covington, residing in Mainstrasse with his wife, Jessica, and their two young children, Findlay and Penelope.