Chef Ben Smith was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and worked for Jeremiah Tower at Stars Restaurant from 1986 to 1989. After further experience in culinary jobs from Australia to Hawaii, he returned to Tennessee and opened Tsunami in 1998, introducing innovative, contemporary, Pacific Rim-inspired cuisine to Memphis and the mid-South. Two months after its opening in July 1998, Tsunami was voted Best New Restaurant by Memphis magazine. Chef Smith has been invited twice to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in Manhattan. In fall 2005, he treated guests to a "Seafood Spectacular", highlighting dishes featured in the Tsunami Restaurant Cookbook.