It’s the project of chef Philip Krajeck, who has an impressive resume that includes a few years at Fish Out of Water, the restaurant at the posh WaterColor Inn in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., where he landed on the list of James Beard Foundation nominees for Best Chef in the South.
At a time when many chefs talk of melding Southern foodways and ingredients with Continental-style standards of preparation, Krajeck seems especially suited for that philosophy.
He was an American kid who grew up in Brussels, Belgium, where his father worked for NATO. His education included a high-end hotelier school in Switzerland (where he trained in French culinary methods with a cohort of Italians who whipped up “really pristine classic Italian dishes” for the staff meal) but he also studied at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Later he did educational stints (chefs describe these using the French word stage) at places like Blue Hill Stone Barns and Gramercy Tavern in New York.
Krajeck says he’s been working toward opening his own place in Nashville for three years. The restaurant name was especially tricky to brainstorm, he said. In the end, he chose Rolf and Daughters — his middle name is Rolf, and he has two daughters, ages 12 and 14 — because the generational name invokes an Old World, heritage feel.
Krajeck doesn’t like to pigeonhole his cuisine as French, Italian, Southern, etc., but he says it’s “a byproduct of all the experiences I’ve had.”
One phrase he does use is “modern peasant food,” which he describes as “commonsense, thoughtful cooking rooted in a passion for the best ingredients and a passion for the best techniques.”
Speaking of ingredients, Krajeck said an important component of the cuisine is his partnership with Lauren and Paschal Jennings of Bloomsbury Farm near Smyrna, which is providing produce of all sorts. They’re even trying a long-term experiment: inoculating oak trees with spores in hopes of someday harvesting truffles.
As for beverages, Krajeck says the wine list will be small but carefully curated, with an emphasis on European vintages along with “some fun American wines.” He adds, “I grew up in Belgium, so there’s definitely going to be good beer.” And look for a menu of cocktails, too.
Krajeck said friends, designers and architects are pitching in to help transform the old Boiler Building into a fun, stylish restaurant that will seat about 75 indoors and eventually more on the patio. “We wanted a space that had a lot of character,” he said — and this one has 18-foot ceilings, exposed brick and concrete, and “beautiful iron windows” across the front facade. “This is the best possible second life for this building,” Krajeck says.
Rolf and Daughters is expected to open in late fall at 700 Taylor St. For updates, follow Rolf and Daughters on Facebook.
A version of this story ran in the Food Biz column in this week's print edition of The City Paper and online in the Nashville Post.