The Fun Part of My Job: Food Tasting!


photos from my outdated iPhone, be gentle!

My life has recently been consumed by the fact that we are opening not one, but two new restaurants in the next few weeks. Harvest at Homestead Manor is set to open by the end of May and Puckett's in Chattanooga is expected to open mid to late June. It may go without saying that opening a new restaurant, or any new business for that matter, is extremely stressful. There's the construction and its inevitable setbacks, the hiring decisions, the training programs, the alcohol permits and licenses (if you ever want to hear me rant), selecting and approving and setting up vendors, ordering office supplies and phones... and on and on and on. More on that at a later time.

Gosh, there's so much I want to tell you about this week, especially about all kinds of new developments at Homestead, but I'm going to have to restrain myself. Today, I want to focus on the food. This week we got to taste our rough draft of the opening menu.  Harvest will be a brand new concept for us which means a brand new menu. It's something different than anything else that we've ever done, and that makes it very exciting, very fun, and well, very scary. We are stepping away from our usual all-Southern-all-the-time, and marrying a Tuscan-inspired menu with Tennessee flavors. We will have a wood fire grill, a smoke house, and fresh herbs growing in the conservatory bar.

I've always held the belief that Italian and our Southern cultures are very similar. Both value systems center around family and food, and preferably bringing extended families together over delicious food. Tuscan cuisine specifically emphasizes simple ingredients with bold flavors that are executed beautifully, which I believe lines up directly with how we feel about Southern food. The menu at Harvest will be incredibly seasonal as the property at Homestead Manor features a farm that will supply our kitchen directly. It's real, y'all:

homestead_farmAt the beginning of April, the farm team put more than 1,600 seedlings in the ground including lettuce, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, kohlrabi, and fennel. They also planted 600 feet of potatoes, 1,000 garlic bulbs, and 30 blackberry bushes. Our friends at Delvin Farms have allowed us to borrow some of their greenhouse space until we have our own, and we have 1600 plants growing there including onions, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. And a lot more has happened since then.

All I can say for now is that I am so excited to see how our chefs present these on your plate!

PS - here's a description of some of the items pictured above. Please note that, as I mentioned before, this is a rough draft and most likely many of the items will be tweaked and altered and some may not appear on the menu at all. At least this time. But I would love to hear what strikes your fancy the most!

Row 1: Porterhouse Steak with grilled ramps and potato gnocchi; Pasta Primavera with tagliatelle pasta, snap peas and asiagos; strawberry and vanilla pie with a homemade crust and whipped cream

Row 2: Hominy Hummus dip with house made crackers and rosemary foccacia; blackberry salad; Pork Tenderloin Primavera with sautéed string beans

Row 3: Homemade cottage cheesecake with ginger snap crust and a blueberry and rosemary compote; Rainbow Trout stuffed with fresh herbs and lemon over tagliatelle pasta; Cannelonis stuffed with ground pork, basil, kale, oregano, spinach, and marscapone with a rosa sauce

Now I'm hungry..

xx Claire