A few James Beard nominated chefs are in Nashville this week participating in one of the city’s upscale culinary events. Savor Nashville involves notable chefs from all over the country preparing various courses for an enthusiastic crowd of 250 at the Hutton Hotel on Thursday, May 29.
Celebrity chef cuisine — Photo courtesy of Ron Manville
The event continues on Saturday, May 31 when top local chefs join in for the Challenge to the Chefs Brunch. Nashvillians and visitors can buy tickets to either event, with Saturday’s ticket price for sampling all of the fare selling for only $35. Last year's winner, Karl Worley of Biscuit Love will be competing with new talent including Jason Slimak of Saint Anejo, who plans to wow attendees with handmade breakfast tamales.
Savor benefits Second Harvest Food Bank and James Beard Foundation, so blame consumption on efforts for a good cause. Entry includes premium cocktails, calorie overload and top-tier treatment from host Nashville Lifestyles; The Magazine of Music City.
If you can squeeze this experience into your plans, you might get a sneak peek at what’s next on the food scene. One of last year’s Savor celebrity participants, Jonathan Waxman, is opening Adele's in the Gulch area in just a couple of weeks. His resume includes author and restaurateur and his renowned reputation has attracted heavy hitters in the Nashville music community, including members of the band Kings of Leon in addition to country’s top artists and industry gurus. The city is already wild over the attention from Sean Brock and his Husk outpost opening last year, and a Waxman locale is icing on the cake.
Jonathan Waxman — Photo courtesy of Ron Manville
A few weeks later, Food Network’s Maneet Chauhan opens the doors to her first restaurant, the nearby Chauhan Ale & Masala House. It’s a unique concept for a city filled with hot chicken, burgers and barbecue. Based on initial interest, a wait list for tables is likely.
Local palates are becoming as varied as the eclectic sounds in modern Nashville’s recording studios. Termed the 'drinking city with a music problem,' the honky-tonk heaven is now earning a reputation as quite the dining destination. Shocking, yes, but a label making it even more intoxicating.
While Savor Nashville kicks off summer, it’s certainly not the only chance to experience a number of food options in one place. The city has a few other key festivals drawing national attention. It starts with the funky Hot Chicken fest, which is a blast and completely local experience. One of the biggest is Taste of Music City on June 14, where folks like Kix Brooks bring the wine and top charting artists perform in Public Square Park.
Top-notch eats at Savor Nashville — Photo courtesy of Ron Manville
The heat factor kicks in again just as things are cooling down on the temperature gauge with September’s Music City Food & Wine Festival, founded and cultivated by Kings of Leon and friends. On the long roster of celeb food names are Tyler Florence, Trisha Yearwood, and Michael Symon. Last year’s music highlight was Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks’ collaboration, and there’s promise that 2014 performances will top it.
Just as you're getting songs out of your head (and control of food cravings), Zac Brown sets his huge stage at Riverfront Park, welcoming chefs and buddies like Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney for the Southern Ground Music Festival. Get a babysitter, but toss the calorie counter.
With all of the gourmet offerings, celebrating and stellar artist performances (and investment dollars), the city's suddenly a hot spot for top tier chefs. Will Bobby Flay be next? That’s just a rumor, but it’s worth a visit to Nashville to do your own research. Start with Savor Nashville and build your summer around food, spirits and fun while it’s still manageable to score reservations.