Music City Eats Toasts Inaugural Year

Producers, Staff and Volunteers toast to a successful first year. Photo: Cambria Harkey

Producers, Staff and Volunteers toast a successful first year. Photo: Cambria Harkey

Nashville’s inaugural Food, Wine & Spirits Festival, Music City Eats, took place over the Sept. 21-22 weekend at the Public Square Park, the Walk of Fame Park, and the War Memorial Auditorium. Music City Eats was envisioned and produced by Nashville residents Caleb and Nathan Followill (Kings of Leon), Vector Management’s Ken Levitan and Andy Mendelsohn, chef Jonathan Waxman, and Austin-based C3 Presents (Austin FOOD & WINE Festival, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Lollapalooza).

Catbird Seat's maple custard with Bentons bacon in egg shells. Photo: Jen Creed

Catbird Seat’s maple custard with Bentons bacon in egg shells. Photo: Jen Creed

Saturday sample sessions at the Public Park Square included over 50 food purveyors such as Cityhouse, Rolf and Daughters, Catbird Seat, Lockeland Table and Silo. Beverage offerings included Kenny Chesney’s Blue Chair Bay rum, Jameson whiskey, and Dark Horse wine, among the plethora of libation selections.

Panels discussions, book signings and cooking demonstrations continued throughout the afternoon including one from Trisha Yearwood, who demonstrated a sausage balls recipe in addition to her coconut cake. The Country diva dished about two favorite Nashville eateries, Rotier’s and Silo, noting: “I moved to Nashville in 1985, one of the most interesting changes in the city has been the great restaurants—I’ve lived in Oklahoma for so long that every time I come back, it feels like there’s a new restaurant.” Yearwood also hinted at new music: “[Cooking] has been a great adventure, but I do need to make a record. Garth is in town now working on a new project.”

Additionally, Nashville chefs Tandy Wilson (Cityhouse) and Margot McCormack (Margots, Marche) were among those offering insights in respective panels. McCormack revealed the culinary changes Nashville has experienced in the past few years: “When I moved back from New York in 1996, I couldn’t find a Nashville supplier who even knew what a hanger steak was.” Celebrity chefs also in attendance included Giada de Laurentiis, Aaron Sanchez, Nancy Silverton, Jonathan Waxman, Michael Symon, Edward Lee, and John Besh.

Evening festivities at the Walk of Fame Park saw many booths of the same celebrity chefs, which supplied dinner samplings in addition to drink services.

The evening concluded with a walk to the War Memorial Auditorium for a tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, hosted by the Kings of Leon and the Cabin Down Below Band. Special guests included Yearwood and Charles Kelly (“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” “Southern Accents”), Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris (“You Got Lucky”), Joy Williams and Jesse Baylin (“Don’t Come Around Here No More”), Caleb Followill (“I Won’t Back Down”) in addition to performances by Jakob Dylan, Norah Jones and Karen Elson.

“I’m channeling my inner Julia Child as I cook,” Yearwood commented during the afternoon session in preparation for Petty Fest. “I’ll have to channel my inner Stevie Nicks tonight.”

Festivities continued through Sunday.

Photos: Jen Creed, Chris Creed and Cambria Harkey

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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] @EricTParker

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