The Nashville Food Project

Waste Not, Want Not

Putting a dent in those numbers could feel daunting, but it’s an issue that we hope to continue working on in 2016. In addition to gleaning from farms, restaurants and grocery stores each week for meals, we’ll be partnering with Zero Percent, a Chicago-based organization that has developed a mobile app and online platform to maximize our food recovery efforts…

Guest Chef Series: Lauren Moskovitz and Alex Grainger

Lauren Moskovitz of Miel and Alex Grainger of Silo work in kitchens across town from one another. Lauren specializes in baking as owner of her side business Little Mosko’s Bake Shop while Alex works more on the savory side as an executive chef…

Guest Chef Series: Vivek Surti

Vivek Surti might not have a formal culinary education, but he’s no doubt a fixture on the Nashville food scene. He made a name for himself hosting inventive pop-up dinners through his VEA Supper Club, and he can always drop some helpful knowledge about the newest restaurants in town…

TNFP Welcomes Teri Sloan as Development Director

Teri is a born-and-raised Middle Tennessean from Shelbyville. She earned a B.S. in Advertising from Middle Tennessee State University and a M.Ed. in Nonprofit Leadership from Belmont University. Teri has spent most of her career working with Greek fraternal organizations. She began as a consultant for Alpha Omicron Pi Women’s Fraternity, a job that took her to Morgantown, WV, and Kennesaw, GA, before returning home to Tennessee. She followed that with five years working with Chi Psi Fraternity, assisting the fraternity and its educational foundation with all marketing and development efforts. For The Nashville Food Project, she will direct fundraising efforts, donor relations, marketing and the annual Nourish event. Teri and her husband Adam live in East Nashville with their dog Audrey. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Biscuit Love Chefs Visit TNFP Kitchen

When Chef Karl Worley of Biscuit Love arrived at The Nashville Food Project’s kitchen, he scanned the recipe that had been handed to him. Then he reached into the fridge with the authority of a man who has reached into a lot of fridges and pulled out a hunk of butter. He dropped it into a giant pot, covered it with sliced potatoes, and dinner was underway in a sizzle.

Karl and Biscuit Love manager Heather Savey agreed to help in the kitchen to prepare a meal for the Thursday food truck run to Mercury Courts, a weekly rate complex that houses low-income Nashvillians sometimes in transition from the streets. But Karl has manned a food truck in downtown Nashville during many a music festival. He opened a restaurant with his wife Sarah based on their truck's concept, and lines of diners now wrap around the building waiting to get in on weekends. Bon Appetit magazine recently named it one of the top 50 best new restaurants in America (and the East Nasty as the best sandwich in the country). So even though he can cook a meal for 75 people with one hand behind his back, it’s still a marvel that he would come here after working all day to work more for those in need.

“I love it,” he said. “Everybody’s into the mission and seeing the mission through.”

The kitchen visit isn’t the first time Karl has helped TNFP. He participated in the annual Nourish dinner for the past three years with a star roster of chefs such as Tandy Wilson of City House, Sean Brock of Husk, Levon Wallace of Cochon Butcher, Rob Newtown of Nightingale 9 and Wilma Jean in Brooklyn and Scott Witherow of Olive & Sinclair. Though the food is top shelf, the barn at Green Door Gourmet where the event took place this year, swelled with a down-home love in knowing that even being there helps further our mission of bringing people together to cook, grow and share nourishing food, with the goals of cultivating community and alleviating hunger in Nashville.

As the Nourish dinner began this year, Karl and the other chefs worked together to plate one another’s dishes. It’s the type of pitch-in collaboration found in our kitchen or in the gardens where diverse groups come together to volunteer.

“Food is a universal love language,” Green Door's Sylvia Ganier said the night of the dinner. “It’s a language that The Nashville Food Project speaks fluently.”

Inspired by that work, the chefs tucked bits of their own story into their dishes at Nourish. Tandy Wilson used mint from his father’s garden in a plate of squash, pea farinata and buttermilk cottage cheese, for example, and Karl prepared a sophisticated yet homey take on cassoulet with Southern ingredients of sausage, duck confit and black-eyed peas.

After servers delivered his course, Karl stepped to the stage and announced he would donate brunch at home to the top bidder for 25 people. It sold for $4,000.

“I never would have dreamed that people would pay that much for breakfast in bed,” he said.

Poverty and the issues surrounding it hit close to home for Karl.

“I grew up really poor,” he said. “We were never hungry, but we had months of brown beans and cornbread. Like, every night.”

Karl’s mother worked at a diner, where he often kept busy as a kid while waiting on her shifts to end. His grandfather had owned restaurants, too. But Karl left his hometown of Bristol at 19 on the first train out, literally. He took a job as a railroad conductor out of Cleveland, Ohio.

“I had been to Florida for like two days. Otherwise, I had never been out of East Tennessee,” he said. His first time through the drive-thru of a Cleveland Burger King, he was nearly laughed out of the line for ordering biscuits, gravy and sweet tea, menu items you couldn't find on the breakfast menu there. But it was also the place where he connected to home when he craved the beans and cornbread his mother made.  “I hated it growing up,” he said. “Now it’s my go-to comfort food.”

After a move to Atlanta and then Nashville and jobs that included selling used cars and working for a builder, Karl dabbled in culinary school at Nashville State before dropping out. Then when he met Sarah, the woman who would become his wife, she warned him that things couldn’t get serious because she was headed to Johnson & Wales culinary school in Denver.  “What if I go to culinary school, too?” he asked her. And this time, the plan stuck.

At The Nashville Food Project kitchen, Karl took an off-recipe approach to seasoning their cabbage and sausage stew with a few shakes of hot sauce, garam masala and curry powder they found in the kitchen cabinets. As with most meals at TNFP, the ingredients came from various sources – tomato jewels from Tallahassee May’s Turnbull Creek Farm, cabbage from Delvin Farms, carrots and cabbage from The Nashville Food Project’s gardens and sausage from a large donation from Gaylord Opryland Hotels. Tracing the food back to its origin is a big part of why Karl likes to support the cause.

“We forget where the food comes from,” he said, “and how it’s cooked.”

Heather pulled cornbread from the oven, and they tasted their stew a final time. They would soon send their work from the kitchen into the community as another set of volunteers arrived to take the meal to Mercury Courts.

“Man, that smells good,” said Toni Rogers, walking into the kitchen. She’s been delivering food to Mercury Courts on the same night of the week each month for several years. Over time, she’s made friends and learned the names of residents.  Food, she said, served as the entry point to get those conversations going. Just as Karl and Heather compared family notes on how they prepared meals, Toni would do the same with Mercury residents.

“Once everyone is together and with food, there’s that ‘meal community’ kind-of thing,” she said. “Even if you’re not in a house, it’s the same spirit.”

Click here to see the cabbage and sausage recipe that provided the basis for Karl and Heather's dish. 

If you are a chef interested in visiting TNFP kitchen, or if you know a chef you’d like to recommend, please email jenniferjustus8@gmail.com. Thank you!

"I feel good from my head tomatoes"

This weekend, the Tomato Art Festival will happen in East Nashville. But we’ve been having an unofficial tomato festival of our own at The Nashville Food Project.

Thanks in part to a donation of Juliet tomatoes from Tallahassee May at Turnbull Creek Farm

…we’ve had enough to make enchilada sauce and marinara.

We’ve dehydrated tomatoes…

…and roasted them before sealing them up for later.

Yesterday, we added enchilada sauce to quinoa, red beans and beef from Chipotle and stuffed it into green peppers. Anna shows how it’s done.

Then we topped the peppers with cheese and slid them into the oven to warm. 

The marquee outside  Rosepepper  Cantina in East Nashville.

The marquee outside Rosepepper Cantina in East Nashville.

Teamwork Helps a Garden Grow

On any given day, the groups coming together in the gardens are often as varied as the crops harvested. A recent week at the Wedgewood Urban Garden welcomed Friends Life, a nonprofit serving the needs of adults with intellectual and development disabilities…

World Refugee Day Celebrate with Art and a Potluck

Potlucks make the best parties for their diversity of flavors. They give us an opportunity to share a bit about ourselves while learning about others through food.  A few weeks ago, a collaboration and art project for World Refugee Day included such a meal…

TNFP Welcomes Darrius Hall as Meals Assistant

Nashville native Darrius Hall is an entrepreneur who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. Joining The Nashville Food Project as Meals Assistant, he gleans food on local farms and works in the kitchen to keep track of donations and meal prep for delivery.

Darrius also put his business degree to good use by founding his company Creative Curren$y. He works to provide essential living needs and empowerment to those in his community near the McGruder garden.

"I have dedicated my time, business, and it's resources, to nurturing melanin-based communities and those similar to it," he said. "When I do find time to myself, I like to indulge in books, painting, music and gardening."

A Day in a Dozen: 12 photos tell the story of one day at TNFP

A variety of volunteer groups meet in the Wedgewood garden each morning to work. This group from RISE (Refugee and Immigrant Students Empowered), a youth program of the Center for Refugees + Immigrants of Tennessee, paused for a lesson on the importance of bees.

Meanwhile back at the kitchen, a morning crew of volunteer cooks prepared trays of sausage strata made from donated and gleaned ingredients that will be delivered to Bethlehem Centers.

By 1 p.m., a volunteer prep team had arrived including Olivia, a young woman visiting Nashville and Woodmont Christian Church on a mission trip from Ohio. She chopped kale harvested from the Wedgewood garden the previous day.

Then at 3 p.m., a two-person team swooped in to prepare hot meals for 170 people. The meals on two separate truck runs would head out by 5 p.m. As part of the process, Judy clipped herbs from the garden behind the kitchen.

Then she prepared squash boats over roasted greens including produce gleaned from Delvin Farms and a donation of meats.

The squash boats would be served with slaw made with donated produce from Granbery farm.

Just before 5 p.m., volunteers arrived to load trucks and deliver the food.

While one truck headed for Rex Courts, an Urban Housing Solutions property, another truck left for the Community Meal at Trinity United Methodist.

Grace, TNFP Outreach Coordinator, plated food with volunteers at Trinity United Methodist...

...as guests began to gather for the meal. 

And a parting gift? Produce to-go with recipes!  


Enchilada Sauce

One of our interns prepared this amazing made-from-scratch enchilada sauce this week. We served it with our Mexican Shepherd's Pie. Makes 3 gallons.

enchilada sauce
  • 24 14.5oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 3 6oz cans of tomato paste
  • 3 14.5oz cans of low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 medium onions, or 10 cups roughly chopped onions
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 handfuls of crushed tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons of cumin
  • 6 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons of garlic powder
  • 6 tablespoons of salt
  • 6 tablespoons of pepper
  • 4 cups dice green chilis
  • 1 Tbl chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

In a 3 gallon pot, add 1/2 cup of olive oil, or enough to coat the bottom of the pot. Bring the pot to medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic cloves to the pot and sauté until lightly browned. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken broth, and stir together. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add in the chilis and chipotle mix. With an immersion blender, puree all the ingredients. Add 2 large handfuls of crushed tortilla chips and leave them for 1-2 minutes, until soft. Using the immersion blender, puree once more until smooth consistency.