2019 Chefs, Judges, Bartenders, and Emcee

 

Local chefs are making an impact on Nashville’s culinary scene are going head-to-head at Music City Chef Throwdown to benefit Martha O’Bryan Center. NextUP - Martha O’Bryan Center Ambassadors is challenging Nashville chefs to showcase how an amazing meal can be made with the simplest of ingredients. As an exciting introduction to the main event, our VIP Happy Hour ticket holders will taste drinks from three bartenders from some of Nashville's best bartenders, competing to create the best cocktail of Music City Chef Throwdown.

2019 Music City Chef Throwdown Chefs

Chef Duane Loftus | Von Elrod's
Returning 2018 Champion Chef Team

My love for cooking started out of necessity, but ultimately grew into a passion. Prior to coming to Nashville, I was a commercial fisherman in Alaska and did the majority of cooking for our boat crew. I decided to make the move to Nashville about thirteen years ago, where I started cooking professionally at Radius 10 and Tayst. For the past seven years, I worked at Merchants downtown, and most recently, I joined the culinary team at Von Elrod’s Beer Garden & Sausage House in Germantown. Cooking is my passion. I enjoy creating tasty and memorable dishes with fresh, simple ingredients.

 Chef Katie Coss | Husk Nashville

Katie Coss Executive Chef, Husk Nashville was born in Catoosa, Oklahoma and raised in Inola. Her self-described place in the world has always been the kitchen. Through high school, she was a dedicated ballet dancer, and cooked as a means of “stress relief.” She ended up falling in love with the high-pressure atmosphere of the cooking environment instead. A country club line cook job started her culinary career; she went onto the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and traveled from Duck Key, Florida to Charleston, SC in her food adventures. In 2011 she joined Husk Charleston. In this role she began advancing her techniques and ideas of menu conception, shaping her culinary philosophies and expertise for the future.

Coss made the move from Charleston to Nashville where she joined the Husk Nashville team as Chef de Partie, was then later promoted to Executive Sous Chef and her current role is the Executive Chef. Chef Coss utilizes the techniques and principles instilled in her during years spent at both Husk Charleston and Husk Nashville. She continues to expand upon the concept and philosophy of sustainable and locally sourced dining & gracious hospitality at Husk Nashville.

Chef BJ Lofback | Funk Seoul Brother

B.J. Lofback is the chef and owner of Funk Seoul Brother, a Korean and Japanese street food truck and a poke and ramen shop in the Factory at Franklin. His business has received national attention, having consistently been named among the country’s 101 best food trucks by The Daily Meal, 2012-2016. Funk Seoul Brother has been named best food truck by editorial staff and Lofback has won a number of local competitions. In addition to running Funk Seoul Brother, Lofback is responsible for the development of the street food scene in Nashville, leading the formation of the Nashville Food Truck Association and serving as their first president.

Chef Taylor "Dip" Varnell | Dino's 

Dip here! I’m 29 years old and have been cooking for around 10 of 'em. I’m currently the kitchen manager at Dino’s and it’s awesome! I like to have fun in the kitchen and believe that cooking should be, too. When I’m not cooking, I’m probably watching wrestling or playing Kingdom Hearts.

Chef Jason Williams | Slim and Husky's Pizza Beeria

Born and raised in Nashville Jason Williams has been the chef behind Slim & Husky’s innovative pizza creations since their 2015 start. Drawing inspiration from the matriarchs of his family, Chef Jason focuses on preparing food with attention and intention. It shows through his house-made dough and unique sauces, which have become fast fan favorites at Slim & Husky’s locations across Nashville and Atlanta. He enjoys playing a role in bringing communities together through the power of food.

For the last 25 years, Chef Jason learned from the best of the best in some of Nashville’s highest-rated hotels and restaurants. Over time, he developed a simple philosophy which fuels his cooking: food should make you happy, not stress you out.

Chef Jose Camero | Virago

Born and raised in Laredo, Texas, Jose Camero was immersed in the world of cooking from a very young age. Living so close to the border, Jose had exposure to both authentic Mexican cuisine and southern American fare.

Although he started college in law school, he quickly realized his passion for cooking and began culinary school almost immediately in Austin, Texas. After graduating, he traveled to New York and Florida but settled back in Austin where he worked for La Condesa, Uchi, and Congress. Jose made his way to Nashville a little over a year ago.

Today, Jose is the Chef de Cuisine at M Street’s pioneer restaurant, Virago. “I love that Virago has a long history in Nashville and this huge chance to be even more innovative. I am excited to support such an ambitious team and learn from them just as much as they learn from me.”

Chef Kristin Beringson | The Green Pheasant

 

Chef Caitlin Darby | Clean Plate Club

Chef Caitlin Darby attended the University of Tennessee Culinary Institute in 2010, and then went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from Belmont University in 2014. After graduation, she served as sous chef for both Tomkats Catering and WOOLWORTH on 5th, and has been with Clean Plate Club since April 2018. Caitlin really enjoys exploring other cultures in her cooking and has a particular yen for pickling just about everything she discovers in the walk-in cooler. When not hovering over a hot stove on Houston Street where the Clean Plate Club is headquartered, she can be found on the hilly Tennessee trails hiking with her three dogs Emily, Rocky and Lucy!

 

2019 Emcee

Jason Fitz

Co-host of Braden & Fitz, the morning drive time show on ESPN 102.5 The Game that can be heard weekdays from 6-10 AM in Nashville. Starting February 12th, you can check him out on nationally syndicated ESPN Radio as well, co-hosting with Jordan Rogers every Sunday night from 10 to midnight eastern time. You can see Jason on ESPNU during college football season, where he hosts College Football Daily and you can also hear him on radio sitting in regularly on SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio and across the ESPN Radio platform sitting in on several shows. 

2019 Judges

Deb Paquette, Chef and Owner of Etch and Etc.

Chef Deb Paquette has been part of the Nashville food scene since 1997 when she and husband Ernie Paquette opened Zola off West End Ave. The food scene was sleepy then, and Zola served some adventurous food for the times. After 13 years of awards, accolades, teenagers, local farmers, obscure food trends, sustainability, confusing food science, lots of humor, and great food, they hung the “gone fishing” sign on the door and closed in 2010. Two years later, Paquette opened Etch restaurant with partners Doug Hogrefe and Paul Shramkowski. Countless awards, national recognition and overwhelmingly positive reviews from guests proved their decision on a downtown location indisputable.

Four years after the conception of Etch, etc. restaurant was born. Her philosophy is to “cook food for people that they can’t cook at home, using the best ingredients, best knowledge and best people”, a culture shared among the management and service team at her restaurants. Paquette’s signature cuisine boasts creative global and ethnic flavor presentations with no regards to authenticity. 

Hannah Schneider, Founder & CEO Hannah Schneider Creative and co-owner of Salt & Vine

Hannah Schneider, originally from sunny San Diego got her start through hard work and determination knocking on doors until she landed her first PR internship. Jumping right into the workforce, Hannah’s 8 years in public relations and social media includes work as a social media manager, publicist and now founder and CEO of HSC Creative.  

After working in fine dining restaurants holding positions from behind the bar, to private dining coordinator and restaurant manager, to then filling a publicist role at a high-end boutique hospitality firm, Hannah moved from San Diego to New York to assist her sister (now a client ) in operating, Egg Shop. From running social media to managing the restaurant, this gave her vast, hands-on experience in every facet of the hospitality industry. With a love for all things hospitality, travel, and design she now brings her expertise in social media marketing, media relations, market trends, and brand collaborations to a team in multiple cities.

Hannah’s extensive background for top hospitality and travel clients has led to strong relationships with media landing placements on local and national broadcast, print and online outlets including Good Morning America, Today Show, FOOD & WINE, Refinery 29, Thrillist, Eater, Cosmopolitan, Delish, Insider, Buzzfeed, New York Times and more! As Founder and CEO of Hannah Schneider Creative, Hannah splits her time between New York and Nashville and oversees all social strategy, public relations campaigns and influencer management for clients throughout the nation.

Kyle Patterson, Executive Chef, Sinema

A native of Chicago, Kyle worked in the city’s fine dining scene before relocating to Nashville. He moved from the Windy City to Music City to join Sinema team as Sous Chef in advance of its June 2014 opening. Since then, he was promoted to Chef de Cuisine and now serves as Executive Chef. His style of cooking leads diners to eat with their eyes first, nose second, and finally taste. The daily menu at Sinema reflects his delicate, purposeful presentation of dishes that are creative takes on classic American cuisine.

2019 VIP Bartenders

Mike Wolf | Chopper

 

Nathanael Mehrens | Stay Golden

Nathanael Mehrens is a respected 13-year coffee veteran and entrepreneur turned bartender with experience founding cafes, cocktail bars and wholesale beverage companies, as well as creating training programs and menus for esteemed Nashville concepts including Steadfast Coffee, CREMA and Pinewood Social. Mehrens brings his extensive industry knowledge and creativity to Stay Golden as the Beverage Director.

With a knack for thinking outside of the box and a passion for pursuing the culinary potential of coffee in different contexts, Mehrens is the creator of coffee soda, a nationally recognized beverage known as Matchless Coffee Soda that has necessitated the evolution of an entirely new brewing process.

Mehrens is actively involved in the regional and national coffee scene having just placed 4th in Coffee In Good Spirits (a coffee cocktail competition) at the 2019 US Coffee Championships. He enjoys finding opportunities to blend the disciplines of coffee and bartending in ways that inform the execution of both.

 

Sally Gatza | L.A. Jackson