This weekend, Nashville hosted a food and wine event called Music City Eats. And boy, did I.
I wrote a preview piece about the festival for Forbes. And thanks to the beauty of the "press pass," I actually got to attend!
(SIDE NOTE: There's no way I would have been able to afford the $500 all-access pass on my own. I'm sure we'll never know about actual ticket sales, but if the festival happens again next year, I hope it will be at a slightly lower price point, so that more people can partake.)
Under white tents armed with red wine, I had the privilege of tasting Roderick Bailey's tender pork shoulder; Sarah Gavigan's savory Japanese pancake; Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson's rendition of "eggs" and bacon, and Hattie B's throat-singeing hot chicken. The entire weekend was one delicious indulgence.
And I can't forget to mention Arnold Myint's Banh Mi. Good gracious.
In the demo tent, an angled mirror and jumbo-tron displayed the chef's hands at work. In one demonstration, acclaimed chef Jonathan Waxman (pictured in purple below) butchered a duck, turkey, and a chicken with ease.
During the panels, the talent explored various topics, like Bourbon or Moonshine? or How do you Q? During the Southern Food Lore panel, Tandy Wilson scolded our generation for culinary laziness. And in What Would You Serve?, Jonathan Waxman discussed musician's favorite late-night snacks. Someone mentioned Velveeta. I'll be honest. There were parts I didn't love. Anytime you charge $500 for tickets and tout a long list of celebrities, some people (read: me) are going to feel awkward and out of place. At times, it wasn't just indulgent—it was grandiose. But maybe that was the point.
I also felt the event was missing a few of Nashville's most talented chefs. Sarah Souther at Bang! Candy, Scott Witherow with Olive & Sinclair, Evie Coates with Twelve at the Table, just to name a few.
But don't get me wrong. There were parts I loved, too.
High on the list? Meeting Dana Cowin—the editor-in-chief of Food and Wine Magazine—and realizing she is just as kind and thoughtful in person as she seems on television. Catching up with Jeni Britton Bauer, and learning that she offers a sabbatical to every employee who has been with her ice cream company for at least three years. Stopping by Roderick Bailey's tent, and marveling at how he's remained so humble amidst a spectacular year of hard-earned success.
But my favorite part was seeing local chefs that I admire have a place to display their incredible talent. They work so hard, and so often behind the scenes—and they deserved every bit of attention that Music City Eats provided.
And to have an event of that caliber right in Nashville's backyard felt surreal! Wasn't it just a few years ago that if you wanted a good burger and didn't want McDonalds, your only option was a sushi restaurant? (Disclaimer: PM's burger is still one of the best in town.) But I digress.
Food and Wine Magazine sponsored it; a large event company called C3 Events produced it; and Caleb and Nathan Followill devised it—and if you ask me... Music City Eats was a huge success.
Here's hoping for another taste in 2014!