Chef Nathan T. Breeding House on Main Abingdon VA

Friends Drift Inn – Real Life and Chefs

Abingdon Virginia Chef Nathan T. Breeding and House on Main

Click for Chef Nathan T. Breeding Interview Appalachian News Express July 2012


Hanging with the Chef – Hillbilly Talent in the Mountains

If I am going to interview a chef, I take weeks looking over their backgrounds, studying their culinary styles, researching their mentors, and making sure I have given plenty of notice to the restaurant staff. I am old school, preferring the slow Southern graciousness and hospitality to a burst on scene approach.

Our trip to Abingdon Farmers Market was a spur of the moment decision. Lunch at House on Main was likewise unplanned. I took my camera along due to habit, not expectations.

Executive Chef Nathan T. Breeding sports a rose tatoo

Sometimes, flying by the seat of your pants is a good thing! Chef Nathan T. Breeding and the crew were a breath of fresh air; easily going with the flow of our unannounced arrival. To Rhoda’s delight the chef not only fed us well; he showed us his tatoo! Giggles

Chef Nathan is young; he is pushing 28. He has the kind of smile that immediately telegraphs confidence and easy going manners. A staple at the Abingdon Farmers Market, the chef can often be found doing culinary demonstrations; his most recent foray ice cream crafted from Abingdon’s Wolf Hills beer. He is one of those chefs that are playful with ingredients, but incredibly respectful of Appalachian Foodways. Throughout the interview Nathan stressed the importance of educating our children; passing down our mountain food culture to the next generation.

The House on Main is known for their use of local ingredients. Tomato plants sprawl across the front lawn. The menu features fresh Appalachian ingredients including beans, ham, and blackberries. Blackberries by the way, the chef likes to pickle and serve with charcuterie plates.

Soup and a Sandwich prepared by House on Main Chef Nathan T. Breeding

Popping in for lunch, we were not sure what to expect. We opted for a cheese plate as a starter, and the daily specials of a sandwich and soup duo. Our waitress was very attentive and answered all our questions. Yeah, when you travel with foodies there are always lots of questions. Rhoda, Tom and Charlie queried, while I snapped photos. LOL

At the end of our meal, the lunch crowd had slowed so I rolled the dice asking if I might get a quick shot of the chef. It’s not the way I do things – this go with the moment kind of living. Rhoda is a bad influence of me; ever since she got that Harley we have been living dangerously. Giggles

Executive Chef Nathan T. Breeding at House on Main in Abingdon Virginia

Chef Nathan was more than accommodating, providing one of the most dramatic kitchen shots I have ever taken. The kitchen staff teased him jabbing, “Chef is a rock star – chef is a rock star.” We all laughed.

Now an executive chef, Nathan started out as a dishwasher at The Starving Artist Café in Abingdon the same place noted Southern Chef Sean Brock began. Nathan spent much time at his Aunt and Uncle’s farm learning about local produce. He honed his culinary skills at Johnson and Wales in Charleston, SC. In my newspaper interview he explains how he worked at a variety of restaurants in Charleston, but finally just wanted to come home and “breathe the mountain air.” Seeing the younger generation return to our mountains with an infectious energy and new visions for the future gives me hope.

Chef Nathan T. Breeding at House on Main; he is one to watch. When he receives a James Beard Award, I’ll be dancing with my red hat on saying “I told you so.” Head on over to Abingdon and check out the town, the Farmers Market and House on Main’s and visit Chef Nathan T. Breeding. Tell him that crazy chick from Pikeville sent you. He will laugh.

Click here for Abingdon Farmers Market Chef Nathan T. Breeding Interview Appalachian News Express July 2012

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Disclaimer: Tom Anderson paid for our meal. He was quick on the draw that day. Giggles

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About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.