Sure enough, in the latest, most bizarre episode of Nashville's "It Cityness," the October 2013 Chefwear catalog features Nashville culinary professionals as models throughout the book, and that is Hal Holden-Bache of Lockeland Table on the cover. Among the dozens of other locals included in the book are Martha and Pat Martin of Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint wearing pomegranate and flying pig pants respectively. (Or perhaps, lack of self-respectively in Pat's case ...) Will Borden, the kind man who clears your table at Arnold's, looks snappy in a royal blue short-sleeve chef jacket, and his boss Rose Arnold looks fetching in a purple coat and yoga pants.
Etch is represented by pastry chef Megan Williams, sous chef Kenji Nakagawa and executive chef Deb Paquette, who is also the featured chef on Chefwear's website. Flipping through the pages reveals jaunty photgraphs of other young local talent like Matthew Lackey of Flyte and Jason McConnell from Red Pony, 55 South and Cork and Cow. The photographer must have been particularly enamored of Lockeland Table's Nathan Wells, because he's all over the book.
You don't have to be a pro to buy and use these togs and clogs. Anybody can order from Chefwear's website. I may have to buy me one of these "In the Weeds" T-shirts for when I get behind on deadlines ...
You may know Brian, who lives in Inglewood with his wife Angie and their daughters Audrey and Abigail. Brian has been a bartender at Margot Café & Bar for seven years, so he knows a thing or two about putting ingredients together. And now he’s won some serious bragging rights in the local food world — as the lone winner of a "triple crown" of East Nashville cooking competitions. To make it even more amazing, he won each of the contests on his first try.
His first victory was in the inaugural chili competition at 3 Crow Bar in October, which he says was the brainchild of his friend Wayne Hannon. “A few guys were talking big game about whose chili was the best,” Jackson recalls. Well, Brian showed them, beating out nearly 20 competitors to win first place.
Jackson admits that he’s always had his eye on the Amateur Cooking Contest at the Music City Hot Chicken Festival, so that was a no-brainer to tackle this July 4th.
“It’s something that has been on my mind for a couple of years,” Jackson says. “With pressure from my friend Matt Schaaf, I put together a team with him and Wayne.”
When Jackson and his team, the Atomic Yardbirds, tied for first in the hot chicken contest, he knew he had to go for the Triple Crown by entering the Tomato Art Fest Bloody Mary Competition on Aug. 9, a win that he says he is still “grinning from ear to ear” about.
(If you're interested in trying the Atomic Yardbirds' food, you're in luck. They're doing a residency at The 5 Spot in the Five Points neighborhoood of East Nashville, serving up hot chicken on the patio on Mondays.)
More from Bernie:
My organic blueberry farm (picked as the model operation by the UT School of Agriculture in 2012) is overflowing with ripe, sweet and bountiful berries NOW. My farm is in northwest Maury County, about 12 miles south of Leiper's Fork. I allow folks to pick by appointment only, and I am happy to schedule folks from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
My berries are $15/gallon U-pick and $25/gallon if I pick and deliver them to Nashville and surrounding areas. My berries are now being featured in Martha Stamps' catering operation and are attracting loads of pickers who appreciate fresh organic fruit. I need loads more pickers NOW. For more information or to schedule a visit, call me at 931/682-2864.
Yes, Nashville. Though spun sugar has been around for hundreds of years, the electric cotton candy machine was invented in 1897 by a Nashville dentist, William Morrison, with the help of his candymaking partner, John C. Wharton. The two patented the machine two years later and then made a big splash at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. They sold their “fairy floss” for a quarter, which was quite expensive at the time; you could get about two dozen eggs for that price.
Though the Nashville candymaker/dentist made a lot of money at the World’s Far, it was yet another dentist, Joseph Lascaux from New Orleans, who popularized the name, “cotton candy.” He invented a similar machine in 1921, called his product cotton candy and sold it through his dental practice. In 1951, a company called Gold Medal Products began manufacturing a reliable and automated machine that made it cotton candy more affordable, accessible and, of course, widely available.
Nowadays, you can rent commercial cotton candy machines (not advised on a windy day, as I know from experience) and even buy a small one for home use. As for Dr. Morrison, though he didn’t make it big as a cotton candy mogul, he worked on other inventions, including a process for extracting oils from cotton seed for lard substitute and a chemical process to purify the public drinking water for Nashville. He later became president of the Tennessee State Dental Association and was known for civic involvement.
The Cook: Tallu Schuyler Quinn. I had a blast talking with Quinn, executive director of The Nashville Food Project, a nonprofit that taps up to 600 volunteers a month to help feed 2,400 meals a month to folks coping with poverty. The volunteers glean produce and other staples from stores, gardens and farmers across the Nashville area; they prep those ingredients and cook them up into hearty meals; they load the food onto two catering trucks; they head to various neighborhoods where there’s a need; and finally, they serve fresh, wholesome meals to folks who could really use one.
Bright, capable and unfailingly kind, Quinn tends to deflect praise to her team. So let me pause to mention a key culinary hero at The Nashville Food Project whom Bites readers may know: Anne Sale, the hot meal coordinator. A veteran of the banking industry, she ran the friendly coffeehouse The Good Cup in the Grassland community in Williamson County from for five years, before joining the nonprofit. (Read more about her on the Food Project's staff page.)
Here's how Quinn describes their work: “It takes a really creative spirit,” she says. “I love to see something made from nothing, and that’s sometimes what it feels like, all these pieces pulled together — one meal’s ingredients could be sourced from 20 different places. It’s really cool.”
Taylor is all grown up now; today is her 23rd birthday. (Happy birthday, Taylor!). Times and tastes have changed for her and, as reported in the December issue of Vanity Fair, Taylor is now on board with sushi, citing Japanese food as her weakness at favorite restaurants such as Nobu and Yellowtail at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. OK, so she didn't say sushi specifically, but if she's going to Yellowtail and not eating sushi, that's just criminal. Yes, even by this vegetarian's standards.
Of local interest, she gave a shout-out to Fido, Burger Up, Pancake Pantry and The Silly Goose as her "favorite neighborhood restaurants" (ostensibly, "neighborhood" by New York City standards). Bricktop's, though appears to have fallen off her list.
But lest we think she's gotten too highfalutin, she also notes that Dairy Queen's Cookie Dough Blizzard is one of her favorite desserts. And her favorite snack is nachos. Frankly, I can't argue with any of her picks.
While her unceasingly perky disposition across all six of her television shows causes me to raise an eyebrow — no one can be that happy while crying over pounds of fresh-cut onion — and her proclivity to use the word “yum-o” as a descriptor for just about everything makes me want to weep over my combination dictionary-thesaurus, I can’t help but like her.
In 2006, she formed a nonprofit organization — called, in fact, Yum-O! — to educate families on healthy eating habits and give scholarships to those pursuing careers on the food industry. Also, she just donated half a million dollars to ASPCA to open a shelter for Hurricane Sandy-displaced pets. Considering the number of cat photos on my Instagram, I had to like her just a bit more.
When I heard that Parnassus Books and Belmont University were teaming up to bring Ray to Belmont’s campus, I couldn’t help but be excited. An Evening with Rachael Ray, hosted by the Scene’s own Carrington Fox, will be centered around Ray talking about her new cookbook, My Year in Meals, a food diary that provides recipes for each of the meals that she prepared for her friends and family for an entire year.
There are parallels between the chef and rock-star vocations: long hours, years of apprenticeship and often low pay. Changing “set lists” from night to night. Performing to the best of one's ability, whether the paid crowd that night is 30 or 300. Oh, and there's this: Chefs, like rock stars, seem to really love music.
“Yeah, we listen to music here in the restaurant,” says Josh Habiger of The Catbird Seat (pictured right with co-chef Erik Anderson, far right). “I think part of the experience here is that people [are in] our kitchen. We choose what they eat, what they drink, and what they hear. We definitely listen to the music a lot louder before we open. The content is not always noisier, though.
“For service, we put together playlists that are intended to correspond with the pace of the room at the time, so generally we start off with some quieter stuff: Americana, Tom Waits, Vic Chesnutt, Will Oldham. And then we move into louder and faster stuff. The busier part of the night will get to Fugazi, The Minutemen, The Pixies, The Hold Steady, and such. Then we sort of wind back to mellower things like Andrew Bird and Tortoise," Habiger adds.
“I think I have listened to music in every kitchen I've worked in except Bouchon in Napa,” says Ashley Quick, formerly of Flyte, who now works in the kitchen at the Capitol Grille. “At the Fat Duck we had one radio for two kitchens. The first person in would have to steal the radio for the day's tunes.
When Curtis did arrive, he was as friendly and charming as you could imagine, visiting with the local purveyors, taking pictures with his fans and even an adorable service dog (pictured at right — awwww) and addressing the assembled crowd about his passion for local foods. On his show Take Home Chef, Curtis used to prowl the produce section at grocery stores to find women who would take him home with them so he could cook for their families. Invariably as part of the interview to figure out what sort of food to shop for and eventually prepare, Chef Stone would ask, "So what does your husband like?" Not once did I ever hear the expected answer, which would be, "Well, I'll tell you what he doesn't like: For me to bring home big, tall handsome Australian surfer dudes."
The promotion, which you can still participate in on Hotel Indigo's Facebook page until mid-October, seeks to solicit input as to what makes a great local dish great. Winners of the promotion will win a trip to New York City to discover that local cuisine; and one of last year's winner actually came from Nashville, so we have a good track record.
One by one, locals lined up to tell Curtis what their secret favorite dish in town was. Interestingly, a pattern emerged. You all really like Mexican takes on sweet potatoes, as the the first two participants raved over the sweet potato enchiladas at Mad Donna's and the sweet potato tacos at The Wild Cow. Budding food truck entrepreneurs, take note.
The Fried Green Tomato BLT at Whiskey Kitchen was also recognized as a winner, after which Curtis turned to us and said, "That sounds good. Is it?" Pretty soon, Chef Stone moved aside for some media interviews while Lindsay and I answered questions from the audience about where we suggested they should try. You can imagine the usual suspects we mentioned, but we were surprised that so many people hadn't considered some neighborhood gems where they lived which we thought were no-brainers. I guess they weren't Bites readers.
Ramquist, who has worked at F. Scott's for five years, was promoted from sous chef to replace Will Uhlhorn. However, Uhlhorn is staying in the company and the neighborhood. He and F. Scott's co-owners Wendy Burch and Elise Loehr have opened a sister restaurant, Table 3, in space next to the Green Hills 16 movie theater. Table 3 is an ambitious French-influenced bistro/brasserie.
A graduate of Johnson & Wales culinary school in Virginia, Ramquist says he plans to keep F. Scott's on the path set by Uhlhorn. But he also hopes to begin "trying some new things, expanding our local sources even more and pushing the envelope a bit,” Ramquist said in a release.
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