7 questions with Scoundrel’s Joe Cash

Chef Joe Cash, owner of the upcoming Scoundrel | Photo by Will Crooks via Upstate Business Journal, graphic created by 6AM City

When you go out to eat, does your heart race when you walk through the restaurant’s front door? Chef Joe Cash, returning home to Greenville and its food scene, hopes his new concept, Scoundrel, will bring a new excitement to the dining experience.

City Editor Danielle here. I spent some time with Chef Joe Cash, learning his favorite spots in GVL, the local chefs he admires + what you can expect when Scoundrel opens its doors in early September.

Q: Who are a few local chefs you’re watching?

A: Carl Sobocinski, just in the way he had a ton to do with creating a food culture in this town. He’s built this empire but he’s also brought euphoria + things like that to town. Without that, I don’t think I’d be here. 

Tanner Marino. We worked at RESTAURANT O together years ago. He serves really great food. He’s running a salad + sandwich shop at the moment (Village Kitchen) but he’s serving the best salads and sandwiches. It’s a 20-30 minute drive from our house but we still try to make it over there. I think he’s great and I’m really excited to see what he does with Patterson

Q: You can only choose one local restaurant menu to bring with you to a deserted island — which one is it + why? 

A: That’s hard. It would be either Taco Casa, for the combo burritos + beef quesadilla with tons of mild sauce, or The Clock, for the hot dog all the way with half-and-half or a double chili cheeseburger.

Q: If you have friends coming to visit from out of town, what three dining reservations are you making?

A: Soby’s, because it’s classic, The Anchorage + and brunch at Southern Culture

Q: Tell us about your background + how it brought you back to Greenville.

A: I was born here, went to school here, went to culinary school here at Greenville Tech. I worked for a couple restaurants around here through culinary school, including RESTAURANT O which was a steakhouse where NOSE DIVE is and 33 Liberty. After graduation I moved to Charleston and worked there for a year. At that point I ended up moving to New York on a whim where I had a week-long apprenticeship at Per Se, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant, and luckily they gave me a job at the end of the week. I worked there for almost four years before I visited noma in Copenhagen for a week and they offered me a job, so I moved there and worked there for a year. I moved back to the city and worked with the Major Food Group, I started as an Executive Sous Chef and eventually became the Executive Chef at The Pool. I really believed in the way they thought about food and the way they thought about dining out. There’s a lot of energy in their restaurants and it’s about the guests, not just having great food, but having a really fun time and experience. My wife and I had already talked about potentially moving here, but COVID was kind of a blessing because it pushed us to come down here and spend some time and we realized how much we liked it. 

Q: You’ve called Scoundrel’s menu a “Letter Home.” What does that mean?

A: To me it’s a culmination of all my favorite restaurants and experiences that I’ve come to know after traveling and cooking. It’s an example of how I like to eat and how I think restaurants should be approached. When you walk through the doors, your heart should feel a little different. You should smile and get excited. Your server should come up and say the perfect thing that makes you think, “Alright. This is going to be a fun night.” Then great food starts hitting the table and you should just walk out of here and say, “Holy sh*t. That was awesome. That was the best time.” It’s not pretentious. It’s not forced. It’s just this natural, organic, really fun, just simple experience of good food, great fun, great fellowship kind of feel. I want to create that experience you can’t get anywhere but a big city and I want to bring that here.

Q: Let’s talk food. What can people expect from Scoundrel?

A: Fun. Different. All the food will be, in some way, shape, or form, rooted in classic French dishes or in classic French techniques. To me it’s about where you’re grounded. It’s just about a backbone for what we want to do and, from there, you play within the seasons. We’ll be exposing people to really quality, beautiful products. That’s another thing about French cuisine: It’s about the product. How do you take a really beautiful product and make it shine? 

Q: In 10 years, what will Greenville be known for? 

A: The Cash Group. I have a lot of different, fun ideas I want to bring to Greenville. (Scoundrel) is a good start and I hope we can get people comfortable with the concepts we roll out and trust us that whatever we do is going to be super tasty and super fun.