Friends Drift Inn – Real Life and Chefs
Hanging with the Chef – Hillbilly Talent in the Mountains
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.
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 tattoo! 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.
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
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.