As NYers, we tend to think of NYC and its surrounding areas as a food mecca. However, being fans of Chopped, we also know that many cities across the country hold their own when it comes to showcasing their culinary talent and delicious fare. Recently, the city of Nashville, TN was well represented as two local chefs, Garrett Pittler and Kristin Beringson, made it to the final round and competed for the title of Chopped Champion. Only one talented chef from the southern city could prevail, and it was Kristin who took home the title and prize. We caught up with Kristin to learn more about her and what she did with the $10,000 prize.
FP: How did you get your start with cooking?
KB: I originally graduated with a business degree, and pursued a career in retail management with Target corporation. Cooking had always been been my passion, and in 2009 I made the decision to leave the retail world behind and enroll in culinary school. I had to work all kinds of odd jobs to make ends meet during my first cooking gigs. After working at a number of restaurants in Nashville, I landed my first executive chef job at the Holland House Bar and Refuge. I am now executive cheffing at City Winery-Nashville.
FP: We’ve read good things about City Winery-Nashville. Tell us more about the venue and its offerings.
KB: City Winery is unlike anything else in Nashville. It’s not only a full service restaurant, but a music venue, a private events space, and a functional winery. I have had the opportunity to fully develop all of the menus for this space. I would say the food pairs well with wine. There’s a noticeable French influence (which is how I was trained), with a bit of Mediterranean twist on things.
FP: Sounds delicious! Tell us about your experience on Chopped.
KB: Chopped was a very unique experience. It’s more mentally challenging then the physical side of it. It’s a very long day, especially if you win or make it to the dessert round. There’s so much they edit out, to fit that hour time slot.
FP: What was the hardest ingredient work with?
KB: I would have to say the most mind boggling ingredient was that darn vegan hotdog. The texture was awful, and it offered up ZERO flavor.
FP: How did you spend the $10,000 award?
KB: As far as the 10K, I did a number of things… I had some bills I needed to pay (boring), but I also jazzed up the decor in my condo, and took a ten day trip down the entire pacific coast, eating from city to city. It was fantastic!
FP: Sounds like you used your winnings for the perfect mix of function and fun. What are some of your favorite meals to cook at home?
KB: It’s sad to say, but I don’t cook at home nearly as much as I will like, but when I do… I love slow braising meats, a brisket or some short ribs. I really also like to entertain, so lots of small amuse bouche sorts of plates. I do staff meal twice a day at the restaurant, which is almost like cooking for my family. These meals truly vary, but can get very interesting, being that it’s such a collaboration!
FP: We’ve heard that Nashville is a great food town. When you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places there or in other cities you’ve visited.
KB: Nashville really has grown as a food destination over the past few years. It seems like every month there’s new places to try! Some of my favorites are Rolf and Daughters, Arnolds, Thai Esane, and Bella Napoli. There’s so many I need to get out and try… Treehouse, Prima, The Sutler, to name a few.
FP: Sounds like a delicious list. We hope to visit Nashville in the near future!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name :)
KB: Guilty pleasure… hmmm. I would have to say CHEESE. I love cheese, all kinds of cheese. I do business with a local company call The Bloomy Rind. Kathleen, the owner and best monger ever, comes up with some of the most unique combinations. She only sources domestically too. It’s amazing how much good cheese is available in the US, that most people don’t even know about!
FP: Half of FP (Kristina) is with you on cheese…so good!
What are some of your non-cooking/food related interests and hobbies? What’s a day off like for you?
KB: Most of my life seems to be focused around food even when I’m not working. I really enjoy going out for a nice meal on my days off. Some days I really enjoy just relaxing with my fur baby, Princess, at home. When the weather is nice, I like to go fishing or disc golfing! There really isn’t a norm for any of my days. I like the ever changing nature of the business I have grown to love!
FP: Thank you, Kristin, for your time. If we visit Nashville, we’ll make sure to reach out!