A native to Raleigh with family roots invested in this capital city, Jason’s passion for the gastronomic world grew from his life-long exposure to the fine art of southern cooking through his grandmothers’ influences and was honed by his worldly, first-rate culinary training. After training with the culinary elite in his field, including Magnolia Grill in Durham N.C., Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café and Gramercy Tavern in New York City, and the Peninsula Grill in Charleston, S.C., chef Jason Smith returned to his native city, Raleigh N.C. and invested in his hometown community. 18 Restaurant group was formed with the opening of 18 Seaboard in 2006, followed by Cantina 18 in 2010, and Harvest 18 in 2014.

Jason proudly serves on the board for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and the North Carolina Symphony. In addition to these roles, he continues a family tradition of supporting philanthropic endeavors. In 1992, Jason's mother was a founding organizer of SAFEchild, a North Carolina non-profit focused on preventing child abuse and neglect. Following in her footsteps, Jason's wife Lauren serves on the board of SAFEchild today, continuing the Smith family's dedication to the betterment of our community.