2018 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.

2018 Music City Chef Throwdown Chefs

Sinema | Kyle Patterson

A native of Chicago, Kyle relocated to Nashville to join the Sinema team as Sous Chef prior to the restaurant’s opening in 2014.  Kyle worked alongside Sinema’s former executive chef Dale Levitski starting in 2012, when Levitski’s Frog n Snail opened in Chicago.  Kyle was later promoted to Executive Chef of Sinema after Levitski’s departure in 2016, and the daily menu at reflects his creativity. Kyle's team strives to take a fresh look at what classic American cuisine should be, and the result is a diverse and timeless menu. During last year’s Throwdown, Kyle made a ritz crusted chicken thigh 'cordon bleu' stuffed with spam, spinach and cream cheese served on a bed of black rice and spinach. Come see what Kyle is cooking up this year!


Crystal De Luna-Bogan | The Grilled Cheeserie

Created by husband and wife team Joseph Bogan and Crystal De Luna-Bogan, a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef, The Grilled Cheeserie is Nashville's favorite food truck, and now a melt shop, serving up gourmet grilled cheese melts and nostalgic treats featuring seasonally inspired, responsibly sourced products. Crystal’s extensive culinary background, including such fine-dining restaurants in Southern California as Napa Rose, The Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills and Clementine, has helped mold her into an elite chef with a developed understanding of flavor profiles. Joseph and Crystal's love for their planet motivates them to use eco-conscious business practices with their sights set on getting to a "zero waste" status. They also view their business as a platform to help educate people on the importance of knowing where your food comes from. Joseph and Crystal's hard work was rewarded when The Grilled Cheeserie was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. They were also featured on The Cooking Channel’s Eat St., voted Best Food Truck in The Nashville Scene and The Tennessean 6 years running, and were listed #3 on Mobile-Cuisine's 2015 Top 10 Most Influential Food Trucks  #7 on thedailymeal.com’s 101 Best Food Trucks in America in 2015, and were just honored with the 2016 Chairman's Award for Small Businesses by the Nashville Business Incubation Center.


Chef Jason LaIacona | Saint Añejo


Bryan Lee Weaver | Executive Chef - Butcher & Bee

Bryan's first foray into the restaurant world was as a dishwasher in Colorado at fourteen years old. Soon after, he was cutting his high school classes to work the line. He soon entered the world of fine dining under the mentorship of chef Sarah Schafer at Irving Street Kitchen in Portland Oregon. He then moved to Los Angeles to work as at Venice Beach hot-spot Superba Snack Bar. He took over as Executive Chef, working to build a diverse, fresh menu highlighting the produce of Southern California. Two years Bryan was offered the opportunity to lead the kitchen at Butcher & Bee Nashville where he currently creates unique produce-driven cuisine praised by The Tennessean as "fresh, original and utterly delicious."


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.


Duane Loftus | Von Elrod's

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.


Hattie B's Chef Team lead by Chef Brian

Pictured from left to right: Kitchen Manager Sean Brashears with cooks Vianney Mora, Leidy Garcia and Mario Moore (not pictured: Brian Morris, culinary operations director).  


Chef Matt Bolus | The 404 Kitchen

After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor of science in business administration, Chef Matt Bolus chose instead to pursue his love of cooking. Bolus attended Le Cordon Bleu in London where he received the Grand Diplôme in 2003. Before moving to Nashville, Chef Bolus worked as a butcher and fishmonger at the James Beard award-winning FIG in Charleston, SC, and at sous chef stations at The Ocean Room at The Sanctuary Hotel in Kiawah Island, SC, and Little Star in Knoxville, TN. He has extensive experience working in kitchens overseas, including stints at Blagden’s Fish Monger and Allen’s Butcher Shop, both in London. As executive chef of The 404 Kitchen in Nashville, TN, Bolus relishes his role. From the pressures of the kitchen to budgeting, forecasting and pricing, every aspect of the job leaves him fulfilled and excited. Bolus takes a hands on approach to his cuisine, insisting upon seeing, smelling and tasting every ingredient that comes through the door. This enthusiasm has led to great success in his culinary career, from FIG in Charleston, to the kitchens of Flyte and Watermark in Nashville, and now to The 404 Kitchen. In addition to the 2014 James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant, The 404 Kitchen has been named Best Restaurant in Nashville by Eater Nashville, the writer’s choice Best Restaurant in Nashville Scene, one of the 25 Best Restaurants in Thrillist and The Tennessean, and one of the Best Whiskey Bars in America by Travel + Leisure.


2018 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. 


2018 Judges

Chris Chamberlain, author of Southern Foodie

Chris Chamberlain is a food and drink writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, where he has lived his entire life except for four years in California where he studied liberal arts at Stanford University and learned how to manipulate chopsticks. He is a regular writer for the Nashville Scene and their "Bites" food blog. He has also contributed to the Nashville City Paper , Nashville Lifestyles magazine, 2001 Edgehill and at www.geardiary.com. One of his favorite things in life to do is to put a shoulder on the smoker and watch SEC football all day long while waiting for his pork reach "pig-picking" temperature as slowly as possible.

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. 

Craig Wayne Boyd, American country singer and songwriter and Season 7 Winner of “The Voice”

A native of Mesquite, Texas, Craig Wayne Boyd came to the attention of America as the winner of Season 7 of the hit NBC television program, "The Voice." During his run on the show, Boyd performed his versions of classic country hits such as "I Walk The Line," "You Look So Good In Love," and "Workin' Man Blues." During his rise to fame, Boyd's single "My Baby's Got A Smile On Her Face" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the second song in history (following Garth Brooks' "More Than A Memory") to achieve that level of chart success. Boyd's first full-length album (since winning The Voice), Top Shelf, is available now.

Ashford Hughes, Sr., city of Nashville's Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

Ashford Hughes was recently appointed by Mayor David Briley to serve as the city of Nashville’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, where will implement the Mayor’s diversity and inclusion goals across Metro Government and lead the city’s efforts to attract, develop, promote, and retain a diverse government workforce at all levels. He will oversee improvements to the city’s procurement practices and policies to further increase opportunities for minority- and women-owned companies to do business with Metro. He also will ensure collaboration across Metro departments and continue to prioritize community-focused initiatives that promote and improve economic inclusion for all Nashvillians. Ashford was also a founding member of NextUP.

2018 VIP Bartenders

Nick Dolan | The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club

Nick Dolan has been bartending for 8 years and counting. He began bartending in Philadelphia after finishing college. In 2013, he moved to NYC to train behind the bar at The Nomad (http://www.thenomadhotel.com), where he developed an appreciation for the art of cocktail bartending. The Nomad's high standards and meticulous attention to detail were unlike anything he’d experienced in a working environment. It elevated both his skill set and his approach to craft cocktails. In 2017, Nick moved to Nashville for a change of pace, where he found his next challenge (as well as a new level of professional responsibility), as head bartender of The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club.

Jon Howard | Henley

Jon Howard is the head bartender at Henley, and has been working in the hospitality industry for nearly half of his life. Howard worked on the opening team at Saxon & Parole in NYC and went on to lead the bars at Il Buco Alimentari and American Whisky before moving to town in 2015. Once in Music City, was on the opening team for the nationally acclaimed cocktail bar, Old Glory. Howard was named the 2016 Woodford Reserve Master of the Manhattan besting over 600 other bartenders in the country and has also been a National finalist in the 2016 Chivas Masters competition, a Bacardi Legacy Regional Finalist in 2016 and is a Diageo World Class National Finalist in 2017.

Diane Sweet | Walden

As a leading bartender in Nashville's hippest neighborhood, Diane Sweet's skills behind the bar take a typical experience to the next level. Over ten years in the industry, unparalleled creativity and just the right amount of attitude combine to make the perfect "cocktail" of a bartender. From Nashville to Northern California to Vegas and back again, Diane's talents have taken her across the country showcasing her flair and intuition in bar service. Attention to detail and focused care are Diane's top priority when taking care of her guests at Nashville's premier cocktail lounge, Walden, where she is making quite a name for herself. Mix up your Nashville experience while you watch her mix things up!