Opie Crooks knew that he belonged in the kitchen ever since he started washing dishes and bussing tables at age 14. He fell in love with the intensity, energy, and urgency in the chef role. In 2006, he graduated from Le Cordon Bleu’s Atlanta campus and immediately started in the kitchen with legendary Chef Roy Yamaguchi at his Atlanta location of Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. Crooks spent nearly a decade working for Yamaguchi, becoming a chef-partner and moving between Atlanta, Jacksonville, and finally Baltimore with a brief stint at Anne Quatranno’s Abattoir in Atlanta in between. In 2013, he left Roy’s to join forces with Spike Gjerde, first as chef of Shoo-Fly and then as chef de cuisine of his landmark Baltimore restaurant, Woodberry Kitchen. Known for an intense focus on the ingredients and traditions of the mid-Atlantic region, he served hyper-local comfort and technically precise food that helped earn Gjerde a James Beard Award for “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” in 2015. Admired by his peers for his creativity, energy, and leadership skills, Crooks was named “Best Chef ” by Baltimore’s City Paper in 2015. In 2017, Gjerde, along with his business partner/bar expert Corey Polyoka, opened A Rake’s Progress in The Line DC, with Crooks as Executive Chef, leading a restaurant where every ingredient is chosen for a reason, but where you won’t have to know the reason to have a good time.