Loews Vanderbilt Hotel recently announced it's retooling their EAT restaurant and rebranding it as Mason's, a Southern brasserie-style restaurant featuring old-school Southern dishes with classical French techniques. It didn't occur to me at the time, but there was a chef out there looking for a restaurant that likes to play with Southern ingredients, using French techniques and wacky molecular gastronomy tricks to elevate his dishes. And Loews went out and hired him to lead the kitchen at Mason's.
That chef is ... wait for it ... Brandon Frohne. He's an energetic guy who has appeared often on Bites over the past few years, always busy with something new — whether it's competitive cooking, blogging, promoting a farm-to-table philosophy with Nashville Urban Gardeners, or planning intriguing pop-up suppers.
I'm on record saying that I think Frohne has solid skills in the kitchen and has only been limited by his relative lack of experience leading a larger kitchen staff. And some commenters have derided (not completely unreasonably) Frohne's supremely confident attitude about his own talents, since they have rarely had the chance to actually try his food. Now we'll all have our chance.
Here's the announcement from Loews management:
Chef Frohne brings more than 10 years of experience in positions such as chef de cuisine at top-rated Six Tables Fine Dining at the Peninsula Inn & Spa in St. Petersburg, Fla., winery chef at AAA Four Diamond-rated Chateau Elan Winery & Resort in Atlanta, and executive sous chef at Nashville’s Bluegrass Yacht & Country Club.
In addition, his dishes have been featured in numerous local and national culinary challenges winning awards including People’s Choice Award at the 2011 and 2012 Savor Nashville Chef Challenges, Semi-Finalist in the 2012 World Chef Challenge and Runner-up in the 2012 International Biscuit Festival.
“Brandon is an incredible talent with a lot of energy, a deep passion for food and a great vision for Mason’s,” said Johannes Diele, senior director of food & beverage for Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. “We are thrilled to partner with him on bringing this unique new element to Nashville’s thriving culinary scene.”
Mason’s will serve as a Southern brasserie that pairs modern creativity with traditional regional cuisine, brought to life with classical French execution and locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Mason Bar, also part of Frohne’s creative oversight, will provide a public house-style atmosphere featuring an extensive selection of local and seasonally-rotating beers, wines by the barrel, local spirits and craft cocktails. In recognition of Nashville’s tightly knit community of artisans, Mason’s staff will be outfitted in apparel from local and regional designers.
“I’m very intrigued by the heritage and progression of Southern cuisine and respect many of the great Southern chefs who are passionate about preserving our region and its resources,” said Frohne. “At Mason’s, we strongly believe in our community, local farmers, artisans and resources, and want to continue to build that sense of community through food.” He added, “I’m excited to be a part of the Mason’s team and honored to unveil this elevated Southern concept in the growing Nashville food scene.”
I've had a peek at the proposed menu and spoken with Chef Frohne about the equipment and toys that will be at his beck and call in Mason's kitchen. If he can assemble a staff to execute his vision, it really could be something special. I've learned not to put down hotel food after many excellent meals at Capitol Grille and 1808, so that shouldn't be a hindrance. I hope that Mason's will be another great addition to Nashville's dining scene, and if nothing else, Frohne will have a chance to expose his cooking to a broader audience for the first time.
Now it's up to him to show those detractors wrong or add gasoline to their fire. Begin your flaming below ↓.