Last night, chef Trey Cioccia, executive chef and founder of The Farm House in Nashville, brought members of his team to the James Beard House for a Tennessee Christmas-themed dinner. True to his brand and vision, the entire menu was locally sourced — but not locally to New York. At the end of the meal Cioccia said, “Everything on this menu that you touched today was either grown in Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, [or] Georgia.”
Diners got their first taste of Cioccia’s Southern comfort cuisine with a variety of hors d’oeuvres, including chicken skin with apply chutney and hearts of palm, braised cows’ tongues with grit clouds and marrow jus, and pigs’ tail jam with black pepper-honey butter on crispy johnnycakes. A Southern Remedy cocktail, a Nashville ’75 cocktail, and a Gammon Dairy Farm boiled custard with Belle Meade bourbon cocktail were offered alongside the hors d’oeuvres.
Dinner menu highlights included crispy sweetbreads, roasted squab, fried brussels sprouts (a favorite in Cioccia’s family), and salt-pork-rabbit stew. Cioccia’s menu was inspired by looking back at traditional holiday meals in the South in the 1800s, where bear fat, squirrel, and possum were the proteins of choice — though these were not included at the Beard House. Cioccia comments, “It’s awesome to get back to the roots and see what our ancestors had done.”
Each entrée in the six-course meal was paired with beer from Nashville’s Little Harpeth Brewing, which Cioccia works with closely at The Farm House. For dessert, the Little Harpeth Brewing double IPA with sage and brown butter was paired with a pork-rind cone with brown sugar ice cream, sweet potato mascarpone, shallot confit, crystallized ginger, and fried sage.
When asked where he gets his inspiration, Cioccia answers, “This is the one job, I think, in my life where no day is the same. I can go to work every day, I can work the same 19 hours or 17 hours, [and] no day is ever the same. It’s amazing and I love it.”
At the end of the meal Wendi Royal of the James Beard Foundation presented Cioccia with a certificate commemorating the night and thanking him for his contribution to the James Beard Foundation.