Over the next few months we will be checking in with chef Sean Brock and the staff of Husk Nashville as he readies the opening of that city’s most-anticipated new restaurant in years.
Charleston chef Sean Brock first made culinary waves at Nashville’s Capitol Grille, where he served as executive chef from 2003 until 2006. It was there that he first began to experiment with some of the cutting edge molecular gastronomy techniques that became the backbone of the menu at McCrady’s, his bold entrée into the Charleston dining scene. This was followed by the opening of Husk, Brock’s homage to Southern ingredients and the traditional dishes that are part of the DNA of both rural and urban diners in the region.
Husk was met with immediate acclaim and was named Best New Restaurant in the United States by Bon Appétit in 2011. Last October, Brock announced that he was bringing Husk and his celebration of Southern food to Nashville as part of an expansion by the Neighborhood Dining Group into the Music City. The new restaurant will be located, ironically, in the empty husk of a small mansion that previously housed Andrew Chadwick’s, another Nashville restaurant that leaned on foams and hi-tech methods to impress patrons. Husk is decidedly not dependent on these modern tricks, but instead focuses on glorifying local ingredients and the farmers and purveyors who provide them.
Brock is really excited to be returning to Nashville. “This city is just such an exciting place to come eat, and a perfect locale for the Husk concept,” he says. “It’s a study of culture through food, and Nashville is full of inspirations. While Charleston is seafood-driven, here it will be even more about the vegetables. The Farmers’ Market here is amazing, and I already have connections with the farmers.”
As Brock makes plans to return to the site of some of his earliest successes, he has graciously granted Food Republic behind-the-scenes access of the process of replicating Husk in Nashville. He won’t be taking on the daunting task by himself though. We’ll also find out the secrets behind site selection, staffing decisions, creating new relationships with local purveyors and creating a food and drink menu that reflects the distinctly local terroir of Nashville from Brock and two of his compatriots.
Dan Latimer was the original GM at Husk in Charleston, and will be intimately involved in the creation of the vibe at the new location and the hiring and training of the staff. British chef/entrepreneur David Howard is the president of the Neighborhood Dining Group, which includes both Husks, McCrady’s, Queen Anne’s Revenge on Daniel Island near Charleston and Chicago’s Steak and Seafood in Atlanta. Howard represents the investors’ financial interest and also brings his years of industry experience and passion for the culinary arts to the table.
This is the same team that opened Husk two years ago, and Howard wouldn’t have it any other way. “Would I do this with a different chef and group of investors? No. I couldn’t do this with a stranger. I have great confidence in Sean and Dan.”
Latimer agrees. “We’re in business together, but friends first. Our relationship bleeds into everything we do. It’s what drives us.” Brock adds, “Everybody brings something to the table, and that makes our individual jobs easier.”
Stay tuned to this space as we share the trials and tribulations, as well as the surprises and successes involved in opening a new restaurant over 500 miles away from home. If history is any indicator, Brock should take Nashville on a wild ride. “I just like hanging out in this town.”
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