Cody Thrasher’s insatiable curiosity and love of food inspire his culinary creations.
Cody Thrasher didn’t go to culinary school. He created his own.
Early in his career, he bought the Culinary Institute of America cookbook at Barnes & Noble and read it cover to cover. Later, he and his cook friends would get together each Sunday evening, since most kitchen crews don’t have to work on Mondays. They would head to the local Asian market, buy some ingredients they didn’t quite know what to do with, and then retreat to someone’s house to spend the night cooking.
Thrasher also went on field trips. When he was 21, he set off on a nine-month road trip that covered all 48 continental states. He observed how ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavors changed from region to region, recording his observations in his journals. Then he took his studies abroad, backpacking through Thailand and working under different chefs in exchange for places to sleep.
All the while, he worked his way through Morgantown’s dining scene, working the stoves at Mountain State Brewing Company, Oliverio’s Ristorante, and various bars around town. All that experience eventually led to a master’s thesis, of sorts.
In 2014, he scraped together some cash and bought a used food truck to launch Hash Browns and New Grounds. Thrasher used his well-traveled palate to create dishes like Jalapeno Gnocchi Mac & Cheese and Blackened Vietnamese Catfish Tacos.
The food, modestly priced and made with local ingredients, was a big hit with Morgantown’s dining public. “It sold itself,” he says. Thrasher’s truck proved so popular, Hash Browns and New Grounds landed a spot in Off the Eaten Path: On the Road Again, a cookbook published by Southern Living magazine.
In 2016, he parlayed this success into a brick-and-mortar establishment in Bridgeport: Cody’s Restaurant. The menu is slightly less adventurous compared with the food truck’s occasionally off-the-wall offerings, but features the same attention to fresh ingredients and unique flavors.
Thrasher revamps the menu four times a year to highlight the season’s best ingredients.
He hand selects each of the restaurant’s ribeyes to ensure they’ve got the perfect marbleization. The steaks are then seared in cast iron pans, topped with a gorgonzola cream sauce, and served with shoestring frites.
The restaurant’s curries and pork belly dishes are also popular—try the Bunjal Curry, grilled beef served on a goat cheese and coconut milk curry, or the Crispy Bourbon Pig, pork belly served with a bourbon and berry barbecue sauce.
Although owning and managing the restaurant doesn’t leave as much time for culinary experimentation as Thrasher might have if he cooked in someone else’s kitchen, he enjoys the added challenge of running the business side of things. Looking over the books, he can see all the money coming in and all the money going out. He can tell which dishes are really popular with guests and which ones are flopping. “It’s kind of like fantasy football,” he says.
And it’s all fueled by what got him interested in restaurants to begin with—his deep love of food. “I still enjoy cooking 10 hours a day,” he says. “Every single shift is a battle. I compare it to a chaotic symphony. If you give your all every day, it pays off.” 20 Shaner Drive, Suite 104, Bridgeport, 304.842.4200, codysrestaurant.com
photographed by NIKKI BOWMAN