Thursday, March 21, 2013

Husk is Hiring!

Posted By on Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 5:58 AM

Now that all relevant permits have been approved, construction is plunging ahead at the Rutledge Avenue location that will soon house Husk Nashville. One question that has been milling around in the minds of Nashville's food community is how to get a job there. The hiring process at all the Neighborhood Restaurant Group businesses is a little more extensive than at most places, and they are really proud of their retention rates. Their stated goal is to build a team rather than just hire individuals, so management takes a lot of time to get to know potential employees.

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 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!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

'Waiting for Wishes' Returns to the Palm for 12th Edition

Posted By on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 5:52 AM

Carter and DeMarcus
  • Carter and DeMarcus
You have to hand it to ex-Titan Kevin Carter. Even though he played only four years of his 13-year NFL career here in Nashville, he has continued to give back to our community in the form of his annual "Waiting for Wishes" dinners at the Palm restaurant downtown. Co-chairing with Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts, Carter has invited many of his ex-teammates and other celebrities to join in the fun as wholly untrained waiters rush to serve lucky diners a dinner that benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Since the first event in 2002, Waiting for Wishes has raised over $1.4 million for charity, and this year promises to add considerably to that total.

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.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Roderick Bailey of The Silly Goose Wins Southeast Region in Food & Wine's 'People's Best New Chef' Competition

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 1:53 PM

The results are in! Roderick Bailey of The Silly Goose was named the winner of the Southeast region title in The People's Best New Chef competition, run by Food & Wine magazine. Chef Bailey won the recognition thanks to his "dedication to [often local] high-quality ingredients" and his quirky menu filled with items that share nicknames with family, friends and loyal customers.

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!

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Tandy Wilson's Bumper Crop of Good News, Plus More Nashville Nuggets From the Beard Awards List

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 12:16 PM

After poring through yesterday's big award announcements by the James Beard Foundation, there are several more local connections that demonstrate just how important a food city our proud burg has become. Yesterday we told you about the great news that Tandy Wilson of City House has advanced to the finals of the Best Chef-Southeast category. In an interesting, and potentially complicating side note, Wilson and his lovely new bride Stephanie Melidis, whom you may have met behind the bar at City House, are expecting their first child — and the baby is due on or about the same day as the awards ceremony in New York City on May 5. Any big-money Bites readers out there have access to a private jet that Tandy can keep on call in case he needs to race home?

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.

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Travel Advisory: James Beard Dinner in Memphis is Worth the Trip

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 5:51 AM

Hudman and Ticer
  • Hudman and Ticer
One of the highlights of the Nashville Wine Auction's Pairings Dinner event earlier this month was the course prepared by Tyler Brown of the Capitol Grille and Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman of Hog and Hominy and Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis. There was a whole lot of culinary talent represented on that plate, not to mention Andy and Michael's brilliant appetizer of a sort of beignet filled with uni and dusted with a dehydrated lardo powder in lieu of the expected confectioner's sugar. (OK, I guess I DID just mention it, but damn, it was marvelous!)

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:

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Goo Goo Clusters Get a Bracket in the Other Big Dance

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Last year, there was a heated match in the Garden and Gun contest called The Ultimate Southern Food Bracket, which pitted the Barbecue category winner, cornbread, against the Cajun/Creole winner, beignets, in the championship round. Somehow, beignets managed to win after beating out all the other Cajun fare and the Classics category winner, country-fried steak.

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.

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Tandy Wilson of City House Advances to Finals for Best Chef Southeast in James Beard Awards

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 12:19 PM

The James Beard Foundation has named Tandy Wilson of City House as a finalist for its award for Best Chef Southeast. And Sean Brock, who is working to open Husk Nashville later this year, is a finalist in the national category of Outstanding Chef.

(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.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 22 Will Be a Bad Day to Be a Crawdad: Spring Crawfish Boil at Farmers' Market

Posted By on Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 5:49 AM

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!

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Friday, March 15, 2013

First Bite: Taqueria del Sol

Posted By on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 3:26 PM

As you’ll probably recall, Taqueria del Sol opened at the end of January in the space formerly occupied by Mirror and Fish & Co. There were some rumblings of oppositions to a “chain” restaurant, but it seems to have settled into the 12South neighborhood quite nicely. I’ve already been twice and enjoyed my meals quite a lot both times.

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.

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The Road, Episode 26: Thai Taste [Eating Our Way Down Nolensville Pike]

Posted By on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 11:03 AM

If this review were a Trinidad James song it would be All Tofu Everything
  • If this review were a Trinidad James song it would be "All Tofu Everything"
Welcome to The Road, my column in which I'm going to attempt — key word: attempt — to eat at every non-chain restaurant on Nolensville Pike between I-440 and the county line. I'll readily admit that even though I live right off Nolensville — Paragon Mills represent! — and revel in the diversity and quantity of its eateries, I have barely scratched the surface of what the strip has to offer. But now I'm going to rectify that, and hopefully you'll join for what's likely to be a wild ride.

Episode 26: Thai Taste
Address: 395 Haywood Lane
Phone: 834-9250

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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