Monday, January 30, 2012

Bob Waggoner Is Latest Chef at the Helm of Watermark

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 8:39 AM

In the deep recesses of my memory, I recall a Sesame Street skit where Bob was a waiter who couldn't remember which door to use to enter the kitchen and kept running into waiters bringing trays out to the diners, resulting in crashing of plates and food going everywhere. He finally made up a little song as a mnemonic, "Go in on the left and you'll never go wrong. Come out on the right and that's the end of my song."

Sometimes it seems like revolving doors are the permanent state at fine-dining spot Watermark in the Gulch. Several chefs with world-class resumes have donned and quickly doffed their toques in that kitchen over the past couple of years. It's downright puzzling, but somehow the quality of the food has remained consistently good the times I've dined there.

Last week Watermark announced the latest executive chef, Bob Waggoner. He's a past nominee for the James Beard Award for Best Chef-Southeast, and his resume is certainly quite impressive.

According to his website, Chef Waggoner has received Wine Spectator’s Grand Award, Food & Wine’s Reader’s Favorite Chef in America Award, the Distinguished Restaurants of North America Award, Santé magazine’s 1999 Restaurant Wine & Spirits Chef of the Year, 1999 James Beard Rising Stars of the 21st Century, and an honorary doctorate from Johnson and Wales University. He's one of the few Americans to be knighted with the l’Odre du Mérite Agricole from the French government. And he hosts a cooking show, U Cook with Chef Bob.

Attendees of last fall's Celebrity Chef Tour visit to Nashville got to sample Waggoner's food, and from all accounts his take on Lowcountry cuisine prepared using classical French techniques was pretty impressive. He has already begun to tinker with Watermark's menu, so Nashville foodies can expect to see some new dishes coming out of the kitchen. (Hopefully through the right door.)

If you'd like to experience Chef Waggoner's cooking chops yourself, Watermark is offering a special prix fixe dinner for $75 per person for Valentine's Day. Optional wine pairings are available, and it's likely to sell out, so call 254-2000 to make reservations. Click here to see the enticing four-course menu.

Meanwhile, in other Watermark chef news, I'm happy to be able to report that one of the past luminaries who graced that kitchen, Chef Louis Osteen, has landed in a new gig closer to his home and his heart.

Osteen has returned to Pawleys Island, S.C., to run the kitchen at Louis' at Sanford's Restaurant, Bar and Smokehouse. While the menu looks a little more prosaic than Watermark's, I'm sure that Chef Osteen will do great things with the food. He battled some health issues during his stay here in Nashville, so we're all extremely pleased that Louis and his wife Marlene to have landed somewhere so soon, and we wish them great luck in South Carolina.

There's another spot to add to your South Carolina "eatinerary" if you jump on the Southwest Airlines "Foodie Express" flight between here and Charleston.

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