Meet the chef: J.R. Crutcher specializes in 'Southern food, redefined, with a twist,' at Cafe on the Corner

Executive chef J.R. Crutcher poses for a portrait at Cafe on the Corner on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Lookout Mountain, Tenn.

Hands-on experience is essential when learning to cook. And if you want to become a professional chef, you'll need to pair those skills with a love of cooking that you can't help but share, says J.R. Crutcher, executive chef at Cafe on the Corner in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

"I learned from a lot of different chefs," he says. "It's an art. And I think it's pretty cool to make something really beautiful and make it taste good, too. I love making people smile. Food makes you happy."

He recently talked to the Times Free Press about his culinary upbringing, why he shuns trends and one of his favorite recipes for summer.