The (passing?) trend of celebrity chefs

For those of you who live in Nashville, there’s an enjoyable article on the front page of the Tennessean today about celebrity chefs.  Those of you who have been reading this  blog know that I love my food, and I’m usually drawn in by the usual foodie lures: “farm-to-table,” “sustainable ingredients,” and celebrities.  Well, at least if that celebrity is named Alton Brown or Bobby Flay.

So after reading the article, I felt I had to comment here.

Yes, on one hand it thrills me that Bobby Flay has been spotted around town.  At the same time, would I really want a Bobby Flay restaurant in Nashville?  We have a lot of good restaurants already, and I can’t help but wonder when we’re past our saturation point.  At least two of our “older” restaurants have closed in the last year, and I can only imagine several of the ones that have just opened will follow suit in the next year or two.  A city can’t really sustain 20+ new restaurants opening every year, can it?  I hate to see our classics suffering from the new flashy (and ultimately unproven) places.

Would a Bobby Flay restaurant in Nashville put us on the map? I think we’re already there, and I’d rather be Nashville than the next “it” city. Although it’s probably too late for that.  Go home, people. You don’t want to live here.  It’s terrible here.

And let’s be honest.  Like he mentions in the article, how many of these celebrity chefs are willing to really make their home in Nashville?  I don’t want to go to a restaurant that just serves food like Bobby Flay makes.  I have his cookbook at home, thanks.  I want to go to a restaurant where the chefs have learned under him.  Don’t just put your name on something and walk away.

My favorite parts of the article, that help you see just what makes Nashville Nashville:

On “celebrity”:

“Country music has long made Nashville a destination. It’s an industry built on performers’ and songwriters’ ability to connect with common folk. Our stars will sit behind a folding table and sign autographs until the last fan is gone.

What that means is celebrity is special to us in its ordinariness. We don’t treat stars as something apart from ourselves, and we respect them with privacy, grace and distance. Paparazzi are anathema to Nashville.

I say this because I don’t want you to get your feelings hurt. Celebrity doesn’t move us like it might in other cities, and your television-earned status might not carry the same cachet.”

On our restaurant scene:

“We have already elevated Southern food to the point of altitude sickness. We have shown we can take rustic Italian and inject new hybrid identity, and farm-to-fork is no longer a novelty but an expectation.”

Don’t come in here and try to show-off:

“This community will help you source ingredients, share line cooks and drink whiskey with you into the wee hours, but it won’t abide one-upmanship. Hospitality is not an industry here, it’s a way of life.”

Whole article here.

Of course, let’s be honest. If Bobby Flay does open a restaurant here, I’ll be blogging about it before too long.  But if he’s just in Nashville hanging out, that’s great too… it’s a fun place to hang out.



One thought on “The (passing?) trend of celebrity chefs

  1. Amy says:

    Great excerpts; I couldn’t agree more. Especially agree with your comment that you’d rather be Nashville than the next “it” city.

    It occurs to me that one reason I love the Pioneer Woman and Kate Middleton is because they present themselves as approachable and down-to-earth (not stars) even though they do their “thing” (food and clothes/being royal) exceptionally well.

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