Once planted, Apiary’s gardens, which Vaughan calls “the orangery,” will create an agrarian experience for guests as they dine in a natural, open-air environment. Seedleaf, a non-profit group focused on “nourishing communities” through environmental and food sustainability advocacy, operates out of Apiary’s lower level and has partnered with the company to help maintain the facility’s gardens.
“(The orangery) will juxtaposition between this industrial feel and wild greenery,” Vaughan said, adding the space would also host decorative trees and fountains.
Vaughan’s vision for Apiary stems from his 18 years in the food business, which began with him attending the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London, followed by a degree in hotel restaurant management from Transylvania University.
While working at such luxury eateries as Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., and Fossett’s Restaurant at Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Va., Vaughan learned he had a passion for the art of service in addition to food.
Eventually, Vaughan’s culinary journey led him back to Lexington, where he assumed the role of assistant manager and event coordinator of Dupree Catering. It was there that met Yalnazov, and together they formed a vision for Apiary.
“Tony and I have a mutual respect for each other,” Vaughan said. “It’s been exciting for me to see him develop as a chef. Apiary inspires a creative energy. It’s a fun place to see and explore, and now we have the tools to push our craft.”
Yalnazov immigrated to the United States from Bulgaria in 1995 to pursue a degree in public relations from Eastern Kentucky University. His part-time job at Dupree rekindled his love for food, however, and it was there that he realized his true calling. Yalnazov now incorporates the Eastern European flavors from his mother’s Bulgarian-style cooking into many of Apiary’s dishes.
“(Vaughan) has pushed me into thinking about my roots and turning it into something special,” Yalnazov said. “I’m at such a different level now than I was five years ago. By coming here, I feel like I’ve rejuvenated myself with the way I look at food. It’s been really exciting.”
In addition to the quality of food and the unique features of its building, Vaughan takes great pride in the level of service the company provides.
“In a lot of restaurants, I think that’s forgotten – people just focus on the food; nobody pays much attention to service,” Vaughan said. “But you can never be that special place unless everything is working together.
“You have to love what you do, have regard for the lineage of your craft, and try to be the best you can be,” he added. “The minute I start to get complacent, someone else might come up behind me and show me up.”