About Our Featured Chefs
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Throughout his successful career, Nate Appleman has won the James Beard Award in 2009 and has made appearances on top television shows beating Iron Chef Michael Symon in Season Five. Originally from Greenville, Ohio, Appleman enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park in 1996. A few years later he moved to Seattle to work at the French-Portuguese restaurant, Brasa. To gain international culinary experience, Appleman spent six months in Florence, Italy. After his return from abroad, he worked at restaurants, Campton Place in San Francisco, and Napa Valley’s Tra Vigne. His culinary career took off in 2003 when he joined A16 Restaurant and eventually became Executive Chef and partner. After San Francisco, Appleman moved to New York to open Pulino’s Bar and Pizzeria. Currently, he works for Chipotle in their research and development departments.
Like Nate Appleman, Chef Roderick Bailey was a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. During his notable career, Bailey has served as sous chef in restaurants from Florida to Oregon. While working as a private Chef, Bailey experimented with many different dishes and recipes. A few years ago, Bailey opened his new restaurant Silly Goose in Nashville. According to a Nashville Scene review, Silly Goose has “homey simplicity” and a comfortable atmosphere. This popular, organic restaurant has grown from two to 12 employees since its opening in 2009. In addition to the opening of his restaurant, in 2012 Bailey competed in Nashville Scene’s Iron Fork Competition, a local Chef contest for charity. Bailey will prepare the vegetarian options for Pairings.
A James Beard Award nominee in 2012, local Chef Tyler Brown graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 1997 and began his career working at fine restaurants in Charleston, SC, and Chapel Hill, NC. He became partner and Executive Chef at Southern Comforts BBQ & Soul in Charlotte, NC. Brown moved to Nashville in 2003 and became the Chef de Cuisine then Executive Chef at Capitol Grille. Currently in the kitchen at Capitol Grille, Brown practices cultural sustainability, which honors the region’s culinary roots. Capitol Grille has a close relationship with the Farm at Glen Leven, which provides Chef Brown with his organic vegetable garden and prime, local cattle.
In 2012, James Beard Foundation named Michael Hudman (left) and Andrew Ticer (right) as semi-finalists for “Best Chef in the Southeast.” Friends since the 6th grade, Hudman and Ticer both come from large Italian-American families. After culinary school at Johnson & Wales, they worked at Chez Phillipe and Encore in Memphis, and eventually decided to further their culinary experiences abroad. Hudman and Ticer traveled to Lyon, France, and completed a master program at the Italian Culinary Institute in Calabria, Italy. Upon returning to the United States, they decided to open an Italian restaurant of their own. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen opened in Memphis in 2008. Well-known for their love of pork, Hudman and Ticer recently opened Hog & Hominy in 2012, which combines their Italian heritage and their southern roots. For both of their restaurants, the Chefs use fresh ingredients from local farmers.
Chef Will Uhlhorn discovered his passion for cooking during college while working at a restaurant in Oxford, MS. After college, he decided to explore this passion and returned to his hometown of Memphis to cook in local restaurants including Automatic Slim’s, Ithaca Restaurant, and Sekisui. To strengthen his cooking skills, Uhlhorn attended the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating in 1999, he moved to Boston and worked in notable restaurants such as Hamersley’s Bistro, East Coast Grill, Harvest Restaurant, and Salamander. Shortly after, Uhlhorn and his wife moved to Nashville where he has worked as Chef de Cuisine at Wild Boar, Executive Chef at the Belle Meade Brasserie, and Executive Chef at F. Scott’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar. Since 2010, Uhlhorn is Co-Proprieter and Executive Chef at Table 3 Restaurant & Market, where he uses many local, organic ingredients and cooks in a French country tradition.
Born into a military family that was always on the move, Tandra Watkins gained her first culinary experiences at home in local family-owned restaurants as a prep cook. Before long she began catering for private events. Watkins moved to France to continue her training at Le Cordon Bleu Paris Culinary Art School where she immersed herself in French food culture. While in Paris, she studied under many of the finest Pastry Chefs and gained experience at some of the best patisseries in the city. Upon graduating, she moved to Lisbon, Portugal and travelled throughout Europe to broaden her culinary vocabulary. When she returned to the United States, Tandra moved to Little Rock, her hometown, and joined the pastry department at the Capital Hotel in 2007. Over the next few years, she mastered classic techniques as she assumed the role of Pastry Chef. Watkins manages pastry for the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Ashley’s, as well as the Capital Bar & Grill, banquets, catering services, and custom-made cakes for Little Rock’s society weddings. Watkins will be providing our Pairings guests with a selection of desserts.
For Tandy Wilson, a James Beard Award nominee, it was his mother and grandmothers who instilled enthusiasm and love for food early in his life. He discovered his talent during his first restaurant job at The Orangery while attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. In 2000, after graduating with a degree in hotel restaurant administration, he left Tennessee for Arizona where he attended the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. After a year of culinary training, Wilson’s career found success at the world-famous Tra Vigne in San Francisco in 2001. Following his time in California, Wilson decided to travel to Italy to explore the cuisine and learn more about regional Italian cooking. Returning from Italy in 2005, he came home to his roots in Nashville. After working for two years as a Sous Chef at Margot Café and Bar, Wilson opened City House in Nashville in 2007. Known for his expertise for cured meats, the Chef works with local resources and has perfected his vision of owning his own restaurant.
Chef John Fleer can be considered a “local” to some degree, having been born and raised on the “right side” of the Blue Ridge in North Carolina. Following a notable fourteen year career as executive chef at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, John continues to share his culinary experience at Canyon Kitchen located inside Jennings Barn. For the 2012 season, dining will be available to members and the public by reservation.
As John recounts through an old Irish proverb, “the laughter is brightest where the food is best,” which aptly describes the food and the atmosphere you can expect to enjoy at Canyon Kitchen. John’s creations strike an informal, nostalgic and often playful chord through the history of Southern Appalachia and the broader South. Fresh produce and organic selections from our own community gardens and the surrounding area are served with pride and delight. The laughter around the table just seems to follow, naturally.