Billy Allin / Cakes and Ale Restaurant
Born in New York, Billy Allin moved to Greenwood, South Carolina where he spent his formative years. Allin was fortunate to have a large extended family that liked to eat well and often traveled back to New York, among other places. And though he was an apprehensive eater at first, these opportunities exposed Allin to foreign flavors, techniques, and ingredients and solidified his desire to explore the world through cuisine. Coupled with his time and experience in the Bay Area, Allin’s early dining opportunities laid a foundation for the love and deference he shows food.
In 1997, Allin traded the East Coast for the West, moving to San Francisco with his wife, Kristin. While in California, the lure of cooking was strong, so Billy left his career as a money manager to attend the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, where he graduated with honors. While in school, Allin simultaneously worked at the internationally-lauded Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. It was in that kitchen, under Chefs Chris Lee and Kelsey Kerr, that he developed an understanding and philosophy of the interrelation between food and culture and the importance of sustainable, local cuisine.
After graduation, Allin and his wife Kristin moved to Napa Valley in 2003 where he worked at The Martini House under Chef Todd Humphries. It was in the heart of the Napa Valley that he expanded his knowledge of wines and of the value of fresh produce and seasonality.
In 2004, Allin and his wife moved back to the Southeast. He furthered his career at Watershed Restaurant in Decatur, Georgia, where he worked as a sous chef for more than two years. Under the tutelage of Chef Scott Peacock, Allin developed a true appreciation for Southern ingredients and forged relationships with local farmers and producers. He left Watershed in 2006 to begin the process of opening his own restaurant, Cakes & Ale, in Decatur, Georgia.
Allin and Kristin modeled Cakes & Ale after their principal dining philosophy: cook unassuming food using the highest quality ingredients and serve it in a comfortable, welcoming space. Allin’s Italian heritage combined with his extensive training throughout California both magnified his passion for local, sustainable ingredients and helped establish him among the growing echelon of innovative chefs that are expanding the definition of Southern cuisine. For Allin, cooking is a true passion – his craft comes from the heart and he sincerely looks forward to each changing season and its new produce. Allin and his wife created a down-to-earth restaurant in Cakes & Ale where the staff expresses creativity and passion for great food and drink while the diner enjoys the experience of a truly delicious meal. Cakes & Ale opened in 2008, and was named one of Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants in 2009.
In August 2011, the couple relocated Cakes & Ale to a corner spot on the Decatur square and expanded the concept by opening the Café at Cakes & Ale. The Café shines a spotlight on Counter Culture coffee, delicious baked goods made daily from scratch, small plates, and wine. Like Cakes & Ale before it, the Café was named to Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants when it opened in 2012.
Billy Allin continues to be recognized as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast each year from 2010 to 2016. When not in the kitchen or working on building the restaurant family, including Proof Bakeshop (opened May 2015) and Bread & Butterfly (opened December 2015), you’ll find Allin spending time with his wife and two kids, playing basketball or reading through a new cookbook.
Jordan Smelt / Cakes and Ale Restaurant
Spearheading the creative vision and direction of the beverage programs at Cakes & Ale, Cakes & Ale Café and Bread & Butterfly, Jordan Smelt curates a unique, yet thoughtful wine lists at the highly-praised Decatur, Georgia restaurants and the newly-opened, critically-acclaimed Inman Park concept. As the perfect complement to Cakes & Ale Chef/Owner Billy Allin and Bread & Butterfly’s Executive Chef Bryan Stoffelen’s simple, but not simplistic, seasonal fare, Smelt has created a wine list and that is smart and often surprising, but remains approachable.
Jordan came to Cakes & Ale after time spent at Atlanta’s Holeman & Finch as General Manager. It was during his four years there that he honed his passion and knowledge for cultivating beverage programs, working closely with Mixologists Greg Best, Andy Michow, and Regan Smith on the restaurant’s wine and cocktail offerings. Jordan soon realized that he was drawn to the wine aspect of the program and began to pursue that passion.
As a regular at Cakes & Ale, Smelt admired Billy’s cooking style and saw huge potential for the beverage program. After forging a friendship, Jordan expressed his interest to create a beverage program that would mirror Billy’s elevated cuisine. He started at Cakes & Ale in June of 2012 and expanded the wine list by over 100 percent, taking the bottle count from approximately 74 to 165. As a frequent diner of the restaurant, he created a wine list built upon the desire to connect and complement the food coming out of the kitchen.
Jordan approaches the list much like Billy and Bryan approach the food. Put simply, he concentrates on what is enjoyable and in-season. Jordan prides himself on knowing each bottle intimately and takes pleasure in guest interaction and education, listening to their preferences and selecting a wine to match. Allin, Stoffelen, and Smelt work closely to create their menus together, resulting in remarkable synergy not often found in the restaurant industry.
In addition to Cakes & Ale and Bread & Butterfly, Jordan looks after the programs at the Cakes & Ale Café and Wine Bar and the café’s Wine Shop. As part of his commitment to the beverage program at each concept, he creates special programming such as wine flights, tasting events, and a curated monthly wine club.