Music City Magic at Nashville Food and Wine Festival


Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon        or not at all.  

-Harriet Van Horne


Music and food have always possessed the remarkable ability to take us back to a certain time or place. A single line of a love song from our youth can give us a rush of emotions. In much the same way, the smell of cornbread baking in your grandmother’s cast iron skillet can bring a wave of nostalgia so strong you’d swear it’s almost a religious experience.

So it is no surprise that two days of incredible music and food held in the beautiful city of Nashville, TN, made for a very cool weekend. Add the fact that the founders of the Music City Food and Wine Festival, the southern rock band Kings of Leon and world-renowned chef Jonathan Waxman, brought together not only the best chefs in the Southern culinary scene right now but also a superstar lineup of musicians who paid homage to country music’s classics at the Harvest Night celebration. The harmony of the two sent foodies and music lovers like myself over the top.

The two-day festival was held in Nashville, the city that has historically gained its reputation by being the Mecca of country music.  But what really makes Nashville the perfect backdrop for this festival is the reinvention of the city’s culinary scene. The city was featured by Food & Wine magazine recently for its “booming Music City food scene,” and is attracting a breed of young chefs who are breathing life into a tired food scene.  Their energy compliments the established chefs who are preserving their deep-rooted culinary heritage while embracing new culinary trends.

The mutual admiration between the culinary and music worlds was evident over the course of the festival. Panels of chefs shared their love of music and the role it plays in their creativity. The musicians returned the love by showing their support for the culinary arts.  You can get the impressive line-up of chefs and musicians at MCFW 2014 here.

The passion of which Van Horne spoke in the quote above was apparent in the work of the artists on display this past weekend. They all approach their respective crafts “with abandon” and are committed to preserving and improving these art forms so that we all can continue to be moved by their magic for years to come.







Chef Tyler Florence



Chef Tim Love from Texas teams up with Kings of Leon drummer, Nathan Followill, to talk about the art of burning food.



Sweet potato hummus with pecan sage pesto

Andy Ticer manning the birds.

Chef Andy Ticer manning the birds.

Always creative and fun ideas pouring at the Tito's table.

Always creative and fun ideas pouring at the Tito’s table.



Hunter Hayes owning the stage.




Caleb and crew saying good night.


Photos by Evelyn Savage

Holy Smokes…Big Apple BBQ Block Party

bbq sause

Summer is upon us! And that means one thing…it is time for barbecue.


For one weekend in June, Madison Square Park in New York City is transformed into a 6.23 acre backyard barbecue party.  And for the 11th year, Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group along with Southern Living lined up the best pit masters from all over the country to show off their mouth-watering versions of barbecue. These guys loaded their trailers and rigs with their smokers and pits and drove  hundreds of miles to set up shop in Madison Square Park for two days.

southern living





The smoke from all that bbq drifted blocks away and drew everyone in like moths to a flame except in our case it was hungry southerners looking for a little comfort. This past weekend was the perfect time for my southxnortheast world to come together. It was awesome to see some old friends from down south like the folks from Southern Foodways Alliance and even show a little SFA love by sporting one of their tattoos. (My 9-yr-old was very proud.)


Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q from Decatur, AL, took home the prize in my book with Chris Lilly’s ridiculously good pork sandwich. Apparently everyone else at the event on Saturday thought so too.  The fast-pass line was longer than the regular line.  There was no such thing as a shortcut.



And of course, our buddy from Tito’s Vodka, Matt Purpura, had the perfect lime-jalapeño infused concoction to wash down all that barbecue.

Eleven Madison Park set up a whiskey bar right outside their restaurant complete with cloth-covered tables and a picket fence. It was hosted by none other than  Julian Van Winkle of the cult-bourbon brand, Pappy Van Winkle.  Bands like The Crooners and The Dirty Guv’nahs provided an incredible soundtrack to the weekend.



My friends at Jim ‘N Nick’s never disappoint and can even make a saltine cracker look good.

jim n nicks



The take away here is if you aren’t a carnivore, this was probably not the place for you.


So when we got too full to put another bite of BBQ into our mouths, we walked over to the IKEA tent where the best of the best like Mike Lata, Chris Hastings, Sean Brock,  John Currence, Joseph Lenn, and Ashley Christensen offered a little variation on the meat theme and shared recipes and ideas on everything from cocktails to oysters.



The Block Party was a chance for these masters of  ‘cue to shine and show off their unique style of barbecue. The methods these mostly southern pit masters used were as old as the south itself. They took pride in their heritage and said, “That’s how my daddy did it.  And his daddy before him.”  As my fellow southxnortheaster put it: “It is so nice to find people up here who know the difference between barbecuing and grilling.”  Couldn’t have said it better myself. Until next year…

nyc bbq sign

Photography by Kley Sippel