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The Friendly Butcher

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Our eyes are on Nashville, Tennessee, and not just for honky-tonkin’ and hot chicken. We’re getting ready for TLP’s upcoming September 18th Music City event: Bourbon and the Butcher, held at the brand-new Cochon Butcher Nashville, opening August 2015. We sat down with the evening’s host, Chef Levon Wallace, who dishes here about what drew him to the South’s latest red-hot foodie hub.

Cochon Butcher is a bit of a departure from your past in boutique hotels and fine dining. What can we expect from Cochon Butcher Nashville?
Cochon Butcher is such a unique and awesome experience. I’m really blessed and honored to be a part of this project with Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski. One of the things that struck a chord with me was Donald and Stephen’s unquenchable passion for good food. Whether in a fine dining or more casual setting, the quality doesn’t waver. Fine dining doesn’t have to mean the white tablecloth—it’s really about the culture, the service, the people. All that makes for a great experience, whether it’s a fancy plate or a kickass sandwich.

As a California native who has worked on the West Coast and in New England, what would you say is unique about being a chef in the South?
I was thinking about this last night actually. There is a culture of hospitality that is inherently Southern, it’s like a state of mind here. That’s an important thing in our industry. Being a chef in the South is about looking out for our guests and looking out for each other. It just seems more effortless here.

Is there a must-eat dish that you’ve discovered in Nashville?
I’ve got some serious favorites that I never tire of, like Carey Bringle’s barbecue over at Peg Leg Porker. Their Yard Bird is a standard lunch for me. And then there’s Arnold’s, who doesn’t love Arnold’s? If you haven’t been you absolutely must.

When (if ever) you’re not working, where can you be found?
If time allows I absolutely love being outside, preferably with my family. There are two big beautiful lakes near Nashville and I happen to live near one of them. I like to fish. (Laughs) I’m not very good at it, but that’s not what it’s about. Also, you might be surprised, but I love cooking at home with my family or for friends. If it’s what you love, it’s what you love.

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