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. 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 three bartenders from some of Nashville's best bartenders, competing to create the best cocktail of Music City Chef Throwdown.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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!