Husk is about to start the interview process and is scheduling interviews for the week of March 25, when the entire management team will be in town. If you are interested, or know someone who might be a good fit for joining the team, send an email with a resume and cover letter to Nashvillejob@huskrestaurant.com. I've heard from several local restaurateurs that the hiring market has been hot in town, and that it is difficult to find enough good help with all the recent restaurant openings. I imagine that competition will still be stiff to work in the kitchen under Sean Brock and his team, led by Chef de Cuisine Morgan McGlone, but those who emerge from the process will certainly be rewarded. As will those of us that eat the food!
Usually the evening fairly quickly devolves into seeing who will pay how much to get the celebrities to do something slightly embarrassing or to convince the sports figures to sing their rivals' fight songs. But it's for a great cause, and if you want Gator-for-life Kevin Carter to sing "Rocky Top," you'd better be prepared to come off of that checkbook!
This year's event will be held at the Palm on April 2 starting at 7 p.m. with a VIP reception for patron-level donors beginning at 5:45. There will also be an after-party at Honky Tonk Central in case you don't get a ticket before the main event sells out. The list of celebrity waiters is being released a few at a time on the event's Facebook page, and you can find out more info about the evening and the cause and buy tickets at the official website.
In the Southeast region, Bailey beat out stiff competition from Matt Lackey of Flyte (who makes a heckuva vegetarian meal) in the voting, as well as Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman of Hog and Hominy and Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis (these guys may ring a bell), and seven other chefs. No small feat, particularly when you consider that other chefs in the running were pulling votes from the major restaurant hubs of Charleston and Atlanta (and, curiously, have been nominated before). The fact that Nashville had two representatives in the competition this year — and Tandy Wilson of City House and Erik Anderson and Josh Habiger of The Catbird Seat were nominated in 2011 and 2012, respectively — is a great testament to our city coming in to its own as a destination for dining.
The national winner was Brendan McGill of Hitchcock on Bainbridge Island, Wash., just outside Seattle. Congratulations to Chef Bailey, Chef McGill and all the regional winners and nominees!
His fellow finalists also have connections to Music City. Ashley Christensen from Raleigh, N.C., is a frequent visitor to Nashville, where she has cooked multiple times as part of benefit dinners, including spearheading the very successful Stir the Pot series that benefits the Southern Foodways Alliance's documentary film series. Ed Lee from 610 Magnolia in Louisville cooked here last year at the Hermitage Hotel as part of the annual Share Our Strength dinner and will be returning later this year as a guest chef at the Savor Nashville event. Fellow finalist Steven Satterfield from Miller Union in Atlanta also cooked with Lee at the Share Our Strength dinner last year. While the final finalist, Joseph Lenn of Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., hasn't cooked at any benefits here locally, he did work here with Sean Brock and Tyler Brown at the Capitol Grille for two years back in the early 2000s.
These five chefs are all very active members of the SFA and great friends who I know will be very supportive of each other no matter who wins. Don't expect any controversial "I beat Meryl" moments on the stage in New York this May. And it's pretty cool to know that all five of this year's nominees have visited and cooked here.
Meanwhile, deep in a few other Beard categories are some other Middle Tennessee connections.
All three of those chefs were nominated as James Beard Foundation semifinalists for Best Chef in the Southeast, and the foundation has selected Memphis as one of the sites for their traveling Friends of James Beard Benefit series of dinners. On Sunday, April 14, chefs Ticer and Hudman will host five up-and-coming guest chefs from various regions for a seven-course meal: David Posey of Blackbird in Chicago; Jason Fox of Commonwealth in San Francisco; Jason Stanhope of Fig in Charleston, S.C.; Jeff McInnis of Yardbird in Miami Beach; and Stephanie Prida of Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif.
I was fortunate enough to sample some of McInnis and Stanhope's food at the recent Charleston Wine + Food Festival, and I'm on record as being a huge fan of the Memphis boys, so trust me when I suggest that you clear your calendar for that weekend. According to the official event announcement:
As citizens of the mid-South, we cannot allow another such injustice to our region's favorite foods. And this year, we have even more at stake, as Nashville's very own Goo Goo Cluster is competing in the revised contest, Southern Food Bracket Battle of the Brands.
First up is the Sweets round, and from there, the winner will compete with the champion of the Snacks, Sodas, and Pantry Items competitions. The brackets will open up for viewing and voting tomorrow, March 19, on Garden and Gun's website.
Here's how the contest will play out:
Round 1 will be March 19-22. You can vote for your favorite every day (and winners are announced daily). Round 2 is March 23-30; Round 3 takes place March 31-April 3; and The Final Four is April 4-7.
The Final (Championship!) round is April 8-10, with the winner declared the ultimate Southern brand on April 10.
I'm not aware yet what other brands will be in the competition, but it's likely that RC Cola, Moon Pies, Sun Drop, Duke's, Ale-8-One, Zapp's, and Tabasco will all be in the mix, giving Goo Goo a run for the title. But be sure to support the hometown team! Follow Goo Goo Cluster on Twitter and/or Facebook for your daily reminders.
(Two other Nashvillians had been named semifinalists in the Southeast category in February — Margot McCormack of Margot Café & Bar, and Tyler Brown of Capitol Grille. Lockeland Table, chef Hal Holden-Bache's place in East Nashville, got a prestigious nod as semifinalist in the national Best New Restaurant category but didn't advance.)
At the announcement ceremony today in New York, the foundation repeated the previously announced honorees for its America's Classics awards, which include Andre Prince Gregory's venerable Prince's Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville. Prince's and the other America's Classics honorees will be celebrated at the James Beard awards gala in May.
Other seminfinalists in the Southeast category: Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Downtown Diner in Raleigh, N.C.; Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Ky.; Joseph Lenn of The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn.; and Steven Satterfield of Miller Union in Atlanta.
To see the full list of finalists, go to the JBF awards page and click on "Get the 2013 JBF Award Nominees list here!" to download the PDF.
Wild and Local Foods seems to be earning quite a reputation at the Nashville Farmers' Market, and apparently they have a philanthropic bent as well. They'll be a sponsor of a big Crawfish Boil on March 22 from 6 to 10 p.m. to benefit Community Food Advocates.
In addition to heaping helpings of mudbugs and all the fixin's, there will be entertainment by Jeremy and Richie Lister, a crawfish eating contest and even an aquatic tattoo contest. So if you have a rendering of a dolphin riding a rainbow across your chest, head on down and be judged by the experts at Black 13.
Tickets are available here. It's $5 to get in the door, and you can prepurchase plates of crawfish, shrimp or oysters or a Family Feast which serves eight for $75. Each dinner comes with a beer ticket, and you can buy additional tickets for $15 for four.
Sounds like fun to me!
Many of you will already be familiar with their type of fast-casual format; a line forms along the right side of the space, you order, pay and get drinks/cups, and then find a seat in the main dining room or the patio (closed in and heated during cold weather). What you may not be expecting is how fast you get your food. Both times I visited, the restaurant was quite busy, but I moved through the line quickly and had my food within moments of deciding where to sit. You also may be expecting to be given a number of some sort matched to your order, but instead they just take your name and make a few notes on how to find you (sorry to spoil the magic of “how’d they know to find me?”).
The menu includes the standard Mexican restaurant items (enchiladas, refried beans, rice) as well as a few specialties (barbecue and brisket tacos, fish tacos, shrimp corn chowder) all made from the tried-and-true recipes that have made the restaurant incredibly successful in the Atlanta area. Items are ordered a la carte, which, if you’re familiar with a *cough* local *cough* taco restaurant that is similar in format, you know it can get a little pricey if you’re not paying attention.
Episode 26: Thai Taste
Address: 395 Haywood Lane
OK, folks, it's time for some new rules! Not only am I going to try and eat at all the restaurants on Nolensville Pike, but for the next month or so, I'm going to try and do it as a veg- and/or pesceterian! The wife and I decide that it was time to reform our diet a bit and do one of these fancy "cleanse" things they've got at the fancy hippie grocery store, and part of the deal with that is that we can't/shouldn't eat meat, diary, gluten, booze, nicotine, caffeine and anything else that's really fun and/or awesome. It's an exercise in self-control, which is really the exercise I'm least qualified for — but I'm trying! (Good lord, am I trying.) Thankfully I was hooked on the tofu at Thai Taste long before I started this foolish cleanse nonsense, and that's making it all the easier.
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