Chef Kristin Beringson has been busy to say the least, having recently filmed an episode of “Chopped” and left Holland House to lead the kitchen at the new City Winery Nashville. We caught up with Beringson about her new gig.
Why did you decide to make the switch from Holland House to City Winery? I had been at Holland House for three and a half years. I felt I had grown all I could grow as a chef under that roof. The opportunity arose, and I really thought it would be a good chance to try new things. It was a 360 — a music venue, all this private event space, I could grow in a different way.
What was your goal for the menu? It’s very much foods that pair well with wines. It has a lot of Mediterranean influence, so French, Spanish, Italian, a little bit of Middle Eastern and especially Greek. I was born in Greece, so there’s a little Greek influence in everything I do. At Holland House, I kept it more contemporary American, Southern cuisine. Here it’s more Mediterranean flavors with a little bit of Southern flair. Like I have risotto balls, but instead of being stuffed with traditional flavors, it’s stuffed with pimiento cheese and short ribs.
How did you learn to cook? I didn’t start cooking until maybe five years ago. Cooking has always been something I loved. I was managing Target stores for years. I said, “I’m ready to be happy.” I enrolled in culinary school the next day.
What is your favorite dish off the menu? I’ve got my take on French onion soup, but it’s called Nash Onion Soup. It’s got smoked bone marrow and Kenny’s (Farmhouse) horseradish cheddar with house-made sourdough.
We have over 400 (wine) bottles and we do our own wines, but, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to make it on site yet. In the beginning of the year, when Tennessee law changes, we’ll be crushing grapes and barreling and aging on site. It will be a full service winery.
Describe your most memorable food moment. Recently one of my most memorable dining experiences I was up in New York City and I ate at Gramercy Tavern and got to meet chef Michael Anthony. I had the chance to see the kitchen. We ate 11 courses. The service and hospitality was completely beautiful and wonderful.
I filmed an episode for “Chopped” there. It’s airing soon. It’s called “Frankly Frantic.” It was crazy, but it was worth it.
What is your favorite tool and ingredient at the moment? Favorite ingredient is easy — it’s honey. I put local honey in just about everything I make. I think every dish needs a perfect bit of sweetness. And honey is so much better than sugar on so many levels. Tool: I have this one little knife I’ve had forever. I call it Woody. If I lose it, I lose my mind.
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