His first job involved washing dishes and preparing basic food at Athens’ Normal Town Café, well-known for its Southern “meat and three” style menu. Over the next four years, Castro worked his way around the city, honing his culinary craft at established eateries such as the Blind Pig Tavern, Harry Bissett’s Bayou Grill, East West Bistro and Athens Country Club, to name a few.
Under Chef Chris McCook, CEC at Athens Country Club, Castro began learning classic techniques and decided to pursue the culinary arts as his life’s career. Chef McCook is a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and Castro’s respect for Chef McCook inspired him to also enroll in the renowned school. After graduating high school in 2001, Castro applied to the CIA with a recommendation from his mentor and was accepted.
During his tenure at the CIA, Castro further developed his skills by working at upstate New York and New York City establishments, including The Woods, Paco’s, db Bistro and New World Home Cooking Company.
Castro returned to the Georgia culinary scene in early 2004, first to Athens and then to Atlanta, seeking a more competitive food scene. He landed his first sous chef assignment in 2005 at Aspen Signature Steaks in Kennesaw before moving to Pura Vida in Atlanta to work for Chef Hector Santiago.
Castro then opened ûrban as a sous chef with friend and chef, Mix McCroy. In 2007, Castro was hired by Pano Karatassos of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and began working at Bluepointe under Chef Doug Turbush. From 2007 to 2010, Castro served as sous chef at Chops Lobster Bar and also briefly worked at Buckhead Diner.
After working with Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Castro pursued Christian mission work in Haiti after the earthquake. Upon his return home, he owned and operated a farmers market business, specializing in sustainable ready-to-eat foods. In October 2011, Castro contacted his former mentor, Turbush, who was opening Seed in Marietta. He assisted with the opening and eventually became sous chef. After his tenure at Seed, Castro served as chef de cuisine at Bistro VG before joining The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Roswell.
Castro is the youngest of five siblings. His place in life has provided him with an interesting point of view. The 30-year-old chef has been fortunate to be able to travel abroad and experience food and culture firsthand in his father’s homeland of Mexico as well as Canada, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Austria and Haiti. Castro is an avid reader who enjoys history and painting, and also holds a second degree black belt in Taekwondo.
McCray is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where he received his Bachelor of Science in marketing. Since 1990, McCray worked as a regional sales manager for a consumer products company where he managed corporate accounts and a sales team before becoming a restaurant entrepreneur.
McCray resides in East Cobb with his wife and two daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, cooking, running and playing golf.
McCray oversees all operations at his companies, including marketing, ordering, designing and management. His goal is to improve business operations on a daily basis while providing the finest service at each establishment.
McCray is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where he majored in sports business administration. He is a member of the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA).
McCray resides in Smyrna with his wife Rachel and their two children. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.