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Nashville, TN’s Creative Class is Taking Music City to the Next Level

From chefs to fashion designers, Nashville's growing creative class is redefining Music City.

By Katy Lindenmuth on May 18, 2016

It’s called Music City but, of course, there’s more than just banjos and honky tonks in this town. From restaurants gaining national traction to local designers popping up on the red carpet, these are the people and places shaping Nashville’s future.


Husk (pictured above) chef Sean Brock’s fame expands well beyond the Nashville food community for good reason: He’s won two James Beard Awards (in 2010 for Best Southeastern Chef and in 2015 for his cookbook, Heritage) and is a world-class champion of Southern cuisine, including popular dishes such as crispy chicken skins with white barbecue sauce, and shrimp and grits.

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Nipping at Brock’s heels is Philip Krajeck, the culinary force behind Rolf and Daughters (see article feature image) – home of the most sought-after handmade pasta in town. And though they’re not in the kitchen, Benjamin and Max Goldberg of Strategic Hospitality are in a league of their own in terms of decorating Nashville with innovative restaurant concepts. The entrepreneurial brothers lay claim to spots like the 20-person Catbird Seat, the new French bistro Le Sel – with staples such as French onion soup, steak frites and perfectly roasted chicken – the mellow speakeasy Patterson House and the grown-up playground known as Pinewood Social, complete with a bowling alley and pool.


Brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson revived their great-great-great-grandfather’s Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in 2006, exactly 100 years after it was shuttered during Prohibition. (Take a tour of the premises in Marathon Village for a fascinating oral history of the family business.) Meanwhile, the legendary Jack Daniel Distillery (pictured above) lies about an hour south of Nashville – in the famously dry Moore County – and this year celebrates its 150th anniversary. A wider variety of boozy options can be found at Corsair Distillery, whose current crop of creative releases includes gin, absinthe, spiced rum and quinoa whiskey.

Craft breweries

With the help of a distilling license, Yazoo Brewing Co. (pictured above) began brewing the state’s first legal high-gravity beer, Yazoo Sue, in 2009. (FYI: She’s bold and has an air of smoke.) Fellow brewer Tennessee Brew Works prides itself on sourcing many ingredients from within the state and practicing green brewing methods via ecofriendly equipment. And the taproom at Jackalope Brewing Co., the first female-owned brewery in Tennessee, doubles as a space for beer-friendly activities like live music and trivia.


Your diet is no match for the newest installation at downtown’s Goo Goo Shop: a heavenly dessert bar that also serves up comfort lunches. The experience at East Nashville chocolate purveyor Olive & Sinclair is less intense and more hipster-ish, from its fair-trade cacao beans to its mustachioed makers to its headquarters’ vintage vibe.

Goods & Gifts

In Music City, there are seemingly as many high-quality leather makers as record labels, including Peter Nappi’s handsome footwear, bags and furniture (pictured above), and Ceri Hoover, whose popular fold-over clutches are inspired by the cowhide pillowcases she crafted in her previous business. There’s a similar air of luxury in the jewelry made by Judith Bright, thanks to celebrity clients like Jennifer Lopez and Catherine Zeta-Jones, but many of her brilliant baubles are under $100. (Try on the assorted rings, necklaces, and more at Bright’s chic flagship store in 12South.)

Thistle Farms’ natural body-care products are made by area women who are survivors of trafficking and addiction; profits from these lotions and balms go back to the social enterprise’s community. And stop by the iconic Hatch Show Print (tucked inside the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum) to grab the perfect Nashville-themed gift for anyone, anytime – or a treat for yourself.

This article was created by Livability.com for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

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