Dancing With The Nashville Stars

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Meet Gregg McDermott, M Street's rockstar Director of Operations and dancer extraordinaire.

At the beginning of the month, Gregg competed in the 2017 Dancing With The Nashville Stars, benefiting Feed America First.

After months of fundraising and dance practices, Gregg showed off his fancy footwork in front of a live audience.


What is Feed America First?

Feed America First supplies food to soup kitchens, shelters, and food pantries across Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

In the past year, Feed America First has distributed over 13.8 million pounds of found, helping approximately 35,000 families in need each month.

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Gregg + Feed America First

Getting involved with Feed America First was a no-brainer for Gregg. Working in the restaurant industry, Gregg sees first-hand how much food goes to waste every single day, and knew he "could make a contribution to helping feed all the hungry people in Tennessee and across the country."


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The Dance

For Gregg's final dance number, he danced to a Michael Jackson medley featuring hits like "Up All Night" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough".

Gregg embraced the disco fever, dressed in '70s garb complete with a full afro.

His dancing partner, Madison lit up the stage with her high kicks and dips, wearing a flare-legged disco bodysuit.

 

 


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The Crowd

Both Gregg's family and M Street family came in full-force to cheer him on.

The team came prepared with neon posters, sequin Michael Jackson gloves, and face cut-outs.

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The Result

Gregg's performance was rocking!

His efforts helped to raise enough funds to supply 110,000-160,000 meals.


Boogie down with Gregg as he talks about his dancing journey in this highlight reel below:

People of M Street: Himmi Vasquez

Art meets cuisine for Executive Sushi Chef Himmi Vasquez, who recently celebrated his 17th anniversary with M Street. We sat down with sushi guru Himmi to hear his inspiring and colorful culinary journey. From his attention to detail to his artistic hand, Himmi brings passion into every dish he serves.

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Where are you from?

El Salvador.

What brought you to Nashville?

My uncle brought me here when I was 20 years old to learn English.

After moving to Nashville, what did you do?

I started working at the Black + Decker factory. After about 2 months there, I joined Virago at their first location in Midtown as a Dishwasher with my cousin.

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How did you start sushi-making at Virago?

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I love to learn. I remember when I was a dishwasher, I would have dishes piling up because I was so interested in watching the cooks in the kitchen. Little by little, the cooks taught me what they knew. I learned all about the Virago kitchen, so when the managers were looking for a Line Cook, they asked me to step in. As a Line Cook, I mastered all of the stations. I remember one day Chris Hyndman (CEO of M Street) came in and asked if I would be interested in transitioning to the sushi station. 

What made you stick with sushi?

I believe that before anything else, the first taste is experienced visually. I love to make the food I serve beautiful and colorful, like a work of art. That's how I knew working with sushi was my passion.

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What is your favorite Virago sushi roll?

I love them all and have probably created about 50% of the rolls on the menu. But, I would have to say The Katana is my favorite because it is so colorful.

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What is your favorite type of sashimi or nigiri at Virago?

Fresh salmon. We put a lot of emphasis on sourcing fresh and sustainable fish.

Do you ever cook at home?

Yes. I love making Thai food for my family. I'll make spring rolls or pho.

What about M Street has made you stay for 17 years? 

The people that I work with are the reason I have been here for so long. Even from the beginning at Virago in Midtown, these people have been like my second family.

What inspires you in the kitchen?

I love watching documentaries and learning the stories about sushi artists such as Nobu Matsuhisa or Jiro Ono. In my spare time, I like to paint because it gives me new ideas on how to plate my sushi.

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When you're not at Virago, what do you like to do for fun?

Playing sports—biking and jiu-jitsu. I also love to spend time with my family—I am currently teaching my daughter how to make sushi.

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Chef Himmi's love for his craft can be tasted in every sushi roll he presents. Treating sushi-making as an art form, Himmi uses Virago's freshly sourced ingredients as his artistic medium. We are so grateful to have Himmi as a part of the M Street family and cannot wait to celebrate another 17+ years with him.

People of M Street: Kerri Rose

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Meet Kerri Rose, our newest General Manager and face behind Whiskey Kitchen.

Since the young age of 13, Kerri has been drawn to the spirit and teamwork found in the restaurant scene. Her passion for the guest experience is evident, and since joining the M Street family in July, she has continually yearned to make her Whiskey Kitchen team the best they can possibly be. We are beyond excited to welcome her to M Street and to introduce her to the Nashville community.

Where are you from?

Long Island, New York.

When did you start working in the restaurant industry?

When I was 13 years old, I started my first job working at a pizza counter in New York. I would just sit back and watch the bustle of the restaurant—I loved it. From the chefs making pizza to the owner of the restaurant interacting with guests, I was in my element. I continued to work in the restaurant scene through high school, helping to open up a new Chili's in my town.

What were your next steps after high school?

I enrolled at the University of Delaware with a major in Math Education. Soon after, I realized that Math Ed. wasn't for me. I took an Intro to Hospitality course to fill some credits, and all of a sudden, I felt like I was surrounded by the kind of people that I loved—similar to the way I felt working in restaurants back at home. I changed my major to Hotel Restuarant Institutional Management. There was a group of about 20 other students with the same major, and we formed this incredible bond. Once I transitioned to that major, it all snowballed from there.

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Where did you find yourself after graduating from college?

After graduating I looked into all avenues of hospitality—spas, catering groups, etc. I would always find myself coming back to the opportunities in the restaurant industry—you just don't get that family feel with other industries. I moved to New York to work for a restaurant group that I subsequently stayed with for 10 years. Within the first 2 years of working with them, I became the youngest General Manager at their flagship concept. It reminds me a lot of Whiskey Kitchen but without the whiskey focus—a lot of character, history, and a hangout hot-spot for the locals.

What brought you to Nashville?

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I had been coming to Nashville as a tourist for the past 5 years and loved it. It was one of those places where every time I would leave I couldn't wait to book my next trip—I just couldn't get enough of it.

I wanted to see what else was out there besides New York. I wanted to meet different types of people and have new experiences. Boston was an option, but it was too similar to New York for me. Nashville was the perfect place that I could envision myself living.

How did you find M Street?

Before moving to Nashville, I sent my resume out to a bunch of contacts I had, and one person recommended M Street. That night, I went on M Street's social media page and I couldn't stop—I think I had already scrolled back 2 years! I was sending pictures to my friends and telling them how it seemed like such a great fit for me. I applied, got a call, came in for an interview, and received an offer. It was a surreal experience, but it just feels so right.

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What is your favorite thing about M Street so far?

Definitely how welcoming everyone has been to me and how truly genuine and helpful they are. Each person from M Street I meet wants to see me succeed even though they don't know me yet—it shows just how much of a community there really is here. From asking me out for drinks to giving me suggestions on where to get my nails done, M Street gave me that instant network of friends and family.

My first 3 weeks of training were spent in Whiskey's back of house kitchen. It was such an amazing experience because I was totally out of my element, but now when I walk into the kitchen, there is no divide between the front of house and the back of house because we are friends and care about each other.

 

What is your favorite Whiskey Kitchen menu item?

The spinach dip with shrimp and bacon is out of control. I had that during my first week and fell in love.

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What is your go-to Whiskey Kitchen drink?

Nick (the previous Whiskey Kitchen GM who has since been promoted to Associate Director of Operations) has been walking me through all of our drinks. It is so hard to pick a favorite—I would say in terms of Whiskey I love High West Yippee Ki-Yay and W.L. Weller. For cocktails, I love our Sazerac. Our signature drink, 'With Regards to Diane' is amazing.

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What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to cook and entertain my friends. Being Italian, I make homemade sauce all the time— I personally think it makes your whole house smell amazing, even better than a candle.

I also love going to concerts. I'm a huge country fan, especially Miranda Lambert—she was the one who got me into country music. I also love Classic Rock—I'm a little bit of a hippie at heart.

What's a fun fact about you that people don't know?

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Probably that I've been to 46 of the 50 states. I grew up camping with my family. We spent 2 summers on the road, getting off the grid and spending true quality time.

Who inspires you?

I really look up to females who have created empires and juggle so many different work/life aspects—women who feel like they don't have a glass ceiling. You look at Miranda Lambert, for example, she has a music career, a charity, and a clothing line; at the same time she is a great person and people want to be around her.

What are you looking forward to during your journey with M Street?

I am excited to learn the ins and outs of each concept and to really get to know all of the leaders. It is so cool being immersed in a company where our 6 restaurants are incredibly unique because there is so much to learn. Being the new girl on the block, I feel like a student again and can't wait to be challenged.

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Welcome to the family, Kerri. You have already proven what it truly means to be a member of the M Street team and we cannot wait to watch you grow with us.

 

People of M Street: Chef Luke Senderling

After falling in love with cooking at the age of 17, Luke fully immersed himself into his passion—eventually finding his way to the M Street team. As a veteran of Virago, Kayne Prime, and Moto’s kitchens, Chef Luke has played an integral role in the formation of the M Street community as we know it today.

We sat down with him to discuss his newest adventure, conducting Whiskey Kitchen’s Back of House as Chef de Cuisine. Inspired by exotic cuisines and palatable flavors, Chef Luke is ready to bring Whiskey Kitchen to the next level—all with his original 'Luke style'.

Introducing the fearless leader of Whiskey Kitchen’s culinary team, Chef Luke Senderling:

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Where are you from?

The east side of Dallas, Texas

What was your first taste of the culinary world?

When I was 17, by brother's friend offered me a position working for a new restaurant that a local group was opening in Aspen. I decided to relocate to Colorado for the opportunity. The restaurant was an international street food inspired concept, with street food offerings from around the world— tacos, tortas, Chicago dogs, etc. There were no boundaries in the styles of cuisine I could cook, so I had a lot of fun.

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How did you find your way to Nashville? 

Because the street food concept I was working at was located at the bottom of a snow mass in Aspen, it was very seasonal. During the off-season summers, I helped open up a nearby fine dining steakhouse called N9NE. During my 3 years at the steakhouse, I worked closely with Chef Chris Conlon and Chef Robbie Wilson.

Chef Robbie moved to Nashville to take the position of Culinary Director of M Street and was in the midst of opening Kayne Prime. He called me to ask if I would help him with the opening of Kayne. I was young with no commitments and decided 'why not?', so I moved to Nashville and joined M Street.

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What was the first position you held at M Street?

When I arrived, Kayne Prime was still in its construction phase, so I started in Virago's kitchen for a few months. When Kayne was ready for opening, some of my fellow Aspen coworkers arrived, and we all joined Kayne's kitchen team. I absolutely loved my time at Kayne—being in the kitchen and in the midst of the debut of a new restaurant gave me such an exciting adrenaline rush that I don't get anywhere else.

Chef Luke (right) with Virago's current Executive Chef, Andrew Whitney (left)

Chef Luke (right) with Virago's current Executive Chef, Andrew Whitney (left)

What was your next culinary move?

I re-joined Virago's kitchen team and supported them for 3 years. I then took a hiatus to move to Santa Barbara, California and help my culinary mentor from Colorado (and Nashville), Robbie open his new restaurant. After about 10 months, I came back to M Street to help with the opening of their newest concept, Moto.

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Tell us about your time at Moto.

I originally started as a Line Cook and was promoted to Sous Chef soon after. The style of cuisine at Moto was new and fun for me— it was the first time I had worked with Italian cuisine. I loved the family aspect of the food and how it brings everyone to the table. There's really a sense of love associated with Moto's cuisine. After growing and learning in the kitchen, I was promoted to Chef de Cuisine, where I led the Moto kitchen. 

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How did you transition from Moto to Whiskey Kitchen?

I remained at Moto to support Chef Brandon as he transitioned into his new role as Executive Chef until Chef Bob (M Street's Director of Culinary Operations) offered me the position of leading Whiskey Kitchen's culinary team. Chef Bob and I had been discussing a game plan for me and how I could do more for M StreetChef de Cuisine of Whiskey Kitchen seemed like the perfect next step for me.

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What are you most excited for as the new Whiskey Kitchen Chef de Cuisine?

There is a culture that exists in fine dining concepts that I am excited to bring to our casual concepts. I look forward to breaking down the wall between the two types of concepts and bridging the way for our chefs to create a bigger and better version of the M Street community that we already have. From sharing new techniques to trying cool ingredients, I really hope to develop a strong relationship between the culinary teams at our 6 concepts.

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What is your favorite item on the Whiskey Kitchen menu?

I have always been partial to our hamburgers, and the Pulled Pork Sandwich is my go-to.

I'm really excited to play around with ingredients and dishes that are more approachable on the Whiskey menu. I can't wait to add my own spin to the classics.

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What is your favorite thing to cook?

Cooking scallops is really fun. I also love the technique of braising and layering flavors.

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What is your favorite memory at M Street?

I received my first embroidered chef coat when I worked at Virago. It still hangs in my closet today because it is very sentimental— I don't think I will ever be able to part ways with it. The coolest part about it is that instead of my name, it says 'Young', because the team used to call me 'YoungBlood' for being the youngest chef at M Street.

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Who is your culinary role model?

There area ton of celebrity chefs, but one of them wrote a book that has inspired me throughout my entire culinary careerAnthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. It has kept me inspired, focused, and given me purpose in the kitchen. Each time I read it, I take something new from it.

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What do you like to do in your free time?

I love spending time with my 5 year old son Phoenix and my fiancee Ansley (who I met at Moto).

What is a fun fact about you?

My tattoo sleeve is covered with food-inspired scenes. From the pin-up girl enjoying a hotdog at a picnic to the salmon and tuna nigiri, I wanted to get artwork that bound me to the kitchen. I decided to get the tuna tattoo after I broke down my first 120 pound blue fin tuna at Virago. That experience solidified that cooking was what I wanted to do— I get such a rush and excitement being in the kitchen.

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As an original pioneer of the true M Street spirit, Luke has become an undeniably integral part of the M Street family. His love of cooking is the epitome of passion, and his hunger to learn and push boundaries is never-ending. It has been truly inspiring to watch Luke grow throughout his years at M Street, and we cannot wait for him to share his talent with the Nashville community during his new journey at Whiskey Kitchen.

Director of Culinary Operations, Chef Bob (left), Executive Chef of Virago, Andrew (middle), and Chef Luke (right)

Director of Culinary Operations, Chef Bob (left), Executive Chef of Virago, Andrew (middle), and Chef Luke (right)

Soaking Up the Sun

Goodbye, July and hello, August. As we enter the final month of summer, we can't help but reminisce on the great times and good vibes we've had this season on M Street. Every summer has its story, and here's ours:

COOLING DOWN WITH TAVERN'S CRAFT COCKTAIL:

The icy-fresh Ginger-Ale is the perfect end to a day of chasing the sun. Crafted with Lunazul Tequila, Domaine de Canton, Pineapple, and The Rose Ale.

LATE NIGHTS AT WHISKEY KITCHEN:

Cheers to the late summer nights with new friends, old friends, and the wild adventures in between.

Summer on M Street

We're feeling major summer vibes on the block. From fresh craft cocktails, to Virago's al-fresco rooftop, to Moto's lush, seductive Ivy Room. it's summertime at M Street, and the living's easy.

Here's a quick peek inside what we've been up to this season:

M STREET'S FINEST BARTENDERS MIX IT UP:

A NIGHT ON VIRAGO'S ROOFTOP:

ESCAPE TO MOTO'S SECLUDED IVY ROOM:

Meet M Street Entertainment Group

Behind our six signature restaurants stand 500 individuals. These individuals are leaders, performers, inventors, and creators. With varying backgrounds and similar shared values, they join together to create the M Street Family.

This past March, we were honored with the "Best in Business" Award given by the Nashville Business Journal. News of the award met with an air of excitement quickly spread throughout M Street. In continued celebration and gratitude, we felt it only fitting to give our friends and valued followers an inside peek into what it's like to be part of the M Street family.

SOPHIE STEVENS: Whiskey Kitchen Manager

Sophie (right) with fellow Manager, Shawn (left)

Sophie (right) with fellow Manager, Shawn (left)

"I love working at M Street because M Street is my family. From people just down the road to people from across the world - we all ended up under the same roof with the same level of passion, same focus and same end goal. We may have never been friends, gotten along or even shared the same interest, but on this one common ground we have built our community and created a family with such a tight bond. Everyone cares for everyone as if they were their sister or brother. From bad break ups or medical emergencies to lending out your game of scrabble or favorite recipe - we all come together and collectively contribute to the melting pot of weirdos that make up Whiskey Kitchen and M Street. Some of the hardest shifts I've ever worked were still full of laughter and smiles because of who we are and the mindset we have." 

 

CHARLIE GIACALONE: Moto Lead Prep Cook

Charlie, of Italian heritage, prepping for the night ahead

Charlie, of Italian heritage, prepping for the night ahead

"I've worked at the best Italian restaurants and the worst Italian restaurants. Only Moto lets me cook using the style my grandmother used when she would make us homemade Italian. It's as close to home as it gets."

 

LINDIE PORTER: Saint Añejo Mixologist

Lindie launched M Street's first ever Creative Leadership Committee

Lindie launched M Street's first ever Creative Leadership Committee

"I love that we provide opportunities for personal and professional growth through our Creative Leadership Committee classrooms and workshops, as well as having such an awesome reputation for consistently great hospitality. Our standards are high and our people are awesome. We feel recognized for our hard work and as far as opportunity goes, the sky is the limit. One other thing that sets us apart is our marketing strategies. We don't use radio, newspapers, or billboards to show what we have to offer. We rely on word of mouth, social media following, awards and publications."

 

ROBERT GRACEM Street's Director of Culinary Operations

Robert Grace continues to serve as the Executive Chef of Kayne Prime alongside Chef de Cuisine Steven Chandler

Robert Grace continues to serve as the Executive Chef of Kayne Prime alongside Chef de Cuisine Steven Chandler

"We never settle, we never give up, and we always strive to be better. We aren't competing with everyone else in the city, we are competing with ourselves and we are fierce rivals."
 

MADELINE WILLIAMS: Tavern General Manager

Madeline just celebrated her 6 year anniversary with M Street

Madeline just celebrated her 6 year anniversary with M Street

"A lot of service industries only care about the bottom line.  We care about the people that work here and the guests.  We have an understating that if we take care of the the staff and the guests, we will achieve the ultimate success – return business and dedicated loyal employees."

 

MICHAEL SATI: Virago Mixologist +  M Street Videographer/Photographer

Michael is a member of our M Street Artist Alliance with numerous features in our Marketing activations 

Michael is a member of our M Street Artist Alliance with numerous features in our Marketing activations 

"M Street continually pushes me to express myself and explore my creative potential whether it is behind the bar or clicking the camera lens."

Thank you to our M Street team members for creating and fostering such a wonderful, supportive family. Visit HERE to read our full Best in Business article.

People of M Street: Nasera Munshi

Meet Kayne Prime's Pastry Chef, Nasera Munshi. Born in India, Nasera's culinary journey has been a serendipitous and colorful story of passion. Her creativity in the kitchen has paved the way for an award-winning career. Spearheading Kayne's pastry program, Nasera has brought our desserts to the next level, leaving our guests a little sweeter than when they first arrived.

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Where are you from? 

I am from midwest India.

How did you find your passion in the kitchen?

Growing up, I thought that I wanted to be a Dentist because my dad was a Dental Technician. I even majored in Biology to prepare for dental school. It is really ironic now because I am on the other side making sweets!

I have always enjoyed cooking as a hobby, and it eventually became very therapeutic for me. Someone put the culinary school "bug" in my ear and suggested I make a career out of cooking. I started researching more about it, but my family initially said no. I ended up dropping the cooking school thing.

When my family moved to California, I continued to cook for fun. My dad saw my passion and finally agreed to let me go to culinary school at Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, California.

Pastry Chef Nasera's cookie plate

Pastry Chef Nasera's cookie plate

How did you decide you wanted to be a Pastry Chef?

I wasn’t initially interested in pastries because I enjoyed more of the savory side to cooking. When I went to culinary school I chose to study the program that covered both pastry and cooking.

When I was looking for my first job after completing culinary school, I heard about a Pastry Chef opening at Chef Thomas Keller's Beverly Hills Bouchon restaurant. I decided to apply just to get my foot in the door and figured I could transfer after a while. It just so happened that I ended up falling in love with pastry. Over the course of several years, I had the honor of working as a Pastry Chef with Charlie Palmer along with other amazing chefs in California. In 2014, I was awarded the Top Pastry Chef in Orange County.

Seasonal Banana Dessert

Seasonal Banana Dessert

How did you find your way to Kayne Prime?

After working in California, I decided I wanted to move to a bigger city like New York. My cousin suggested Nashville since she lives here, and my husband and I decided to move.

Once I came to Nashville, I heard a lot of great things about Kayne Prime. I walked into the door of Kayne Prime with my resume and expressed my desire to work there. They didn’t have a pastry program at the time, so I spearheaded that. It took me about 6 months to change over the dessert menu completely.

What inspires you in the kitchen when you are creating new desserts?

Flavors. I love creating different flavor combinations that stem from my cultural heritage and my culinary background. 

What is your favorite item that you have created for the Kane Prime menu?

I love using fresh, seasonal products, so it really depends. Right now we’re doing a delicious apple pie, and soon spring and summer fruits like berries will be in season, so I’ll create a new menu. It’s all about constantly evolving with whatever produce is going to come in.

What is your favorite dish to eat?

My mom’s biryani.

What is your favorite dish to make?

I love cooking everything. My day consists of working at Kayne Prime for 12 hours and going home to cook another 2 hours for my husband. I cook everything from Indian to Chinese food and absolutely love it.

What is your favorite part about your job?

Definitely creating new things, that’s what keeps me going and that’s what excites me. I love asking myself "What am I going to do next? What flavors am I going to put together that are new and exciting?" When I create something I try to think of flavors that unique but still complementary. At Kayne, we want to keep things classic with a little edge.

What is your favorite memory at M Street?

Last year I created a lemon bar dessert that wasn’t as popular as some other desserts. There was one particular gentleman who absolutely loved the lemon bar and wanted to meet me. We talked about his travels and the various dishes he has enjoyed around the world. It turns out that his wife was a pastry chef. When you put your heart and soul into a dish and someone who is well-traveled tells you they appreciate it, you feel really good.

Nasera's Lemon Bar

Nasera's Lemon Bar

Who do you look up to in the culinary world?

All of the chefs I’ve ever worked with. When I started my Pastry Chef career I was so raw. I didn’t grow up baking cakes and cookies because we didn’t even have ovens in India, so the first time I ever baked was in culinary school. I am so fortunate to have worked with amazing chefs with incredible knowledge and want to do the same thing for someone else one day.

Chef Nasera's passion for her craft can be tasted in every bite of her seasonal offerings at Kayne Prime. From chocolate bombes to custom strawberry cake, Nasera's desserts take guests on a flavor-filled journey that ignites each sense.

Simply Smitten

With tastebuds tingling from dulce macaroons and eyes twinkling from Kendra Scott’s bright gemstones, M Street’s Saturday night pop-up event, Smitten, left us on a sugar high to last through Valentine’s Day.

Throughout the night, guests on the block were given yellow Kendra Scott boxes at random, which served as admission into Smitten. Tucked away in M Street’s private club, Citizen, guests were greeted by larger-than-life roses and signature sangria.

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The room glowed with a sophisticated hue of purple as lounge beats filled the room. The bar bustled with partygoers, and the bartenders' cocktail shakers danced to the rhythm of the music.

There was something to ignite the senses at every turn. A rainbow of macarons, cupcakes, cookies, and fruit tarts crafted by Kayne Prime’s Pastry Chef Nasera adorned the walkway to the dance floor.

In the distance, Kendra Scott’s rainbow of gemstones served as a hot spot for the night. Guests customized their own piece of jewelry while getting an inside peek inside the latest jewelry trends.

The dark, sensual atmosphere of Smitten set the stage for a perfect Valentine’s Day weekend. Guests said their goodbyes and walked out into the city lights on M Street, leaving a little sweeter and sparklier that when the night began.

 

People of M Street: Sam Miller

Introducing Sam Miller, bartender extraordinaire. You can find him reading the next best book about bartending or crafting his latest personalized cocktail behind the bar at Moto. We sat down with him to see what gets his creative juices flowing.

Where are you from?

I have been in Nashville since I was 7.

How long have you worked at Moto?

I will be coming up on two years.

What made you choose Moto?

I had been working in the industry for about 7 years and I always heard great things about M Street. I was really attracted to Moto and started off as a Server Assistant here. 

How did you move into bartending?

Bartenders always seemed to be the most knowledgeable people that work in a restaurant besides chefs and other kitchen team members. I was eager to learn more and more when I first started at Moto. I love bartending because you are right in front of the guest the whole time. It is almost like you are on stage. It is really fun.

What is your favorite drink?

It depends on where I go, but anything from an Old Fashioned to a Manhattan or a Peated Scotch Neat.

Do you have a favorite Moto drink?

One of them is the Question of Etiquette. It is on our new cocktail menu and I actually came up with it. Made with gin, it is floral and aromatic. There is no citrus, so it is stirred, not shaken. My other favorite is the Garden Grandeur. It is a intricate, botanical-flavored cocktail.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to hang out, watch different shows. Sometimes I read up on bartending. There are several cocktail books I really like at my house.

What inspires you behind the bar?

Basically there are two different ways you can make a drink. The first way can be achieved by taking the recipe of another drink and switching out the main spirit with another spirit.

The second way is really fun. If you learn all the ratios of sweetness, acidity, and alcohol, you can create your own cocktails. Sometimes it is a hit or miss, but it is really cool when you try something new for someone and they like it. Usually when people do not know what they want, I will ask what they like and make something up for them.

Who inspires you?

The people behind the bar and the people I work with. There have been so many people I have looked up to throughout my 7 years in the restaurant industry.

What do you enjoy most about Moto?

I love how versatile it is. You can celebrate here and enjoy a Kayne Prime steak with top notch wine or you can sit at the pizza bar and sip on a craft cocktail.

What is your favorite part about M Street?

The culture. We are a big, huge family.

Sam's creativity inspires not only those he works with but those who visit him at Moto. His passion for bartending is what makes an experience with him like no other.

 

An M Street New Year

When the clock strikes Midnight, we will be welcoming 2017 in true M Street style. Bubbles will be flowing, confetti will be flying, and beats will be thumping throughout our bodies as we ring in the new year on the block. This New Year's, The Rosewall, Virago, Saint Anejo, and Whiskey Kitchen will all take part in the celebration.

We sat down with M Street's Event Producer, Kim Sawyer and our New Year's Eve Headliner, Chief Maverick of Los Angeles to see what we can expect from the night.

What inspired you for this year's New Year's Eve?

Kim Sawyer: In a nutshell, Vegas clubs inspired me. My favorite part about last year's New Year's Eve was the light show. I wanted to make this year's light show even bigger and better. I also wanted to focus on bright colors throughout the night. The colors and patterns will change based on the increase in energy throughout the night. The decor will be black and white with various colors coming from the lights.

Walk us through the night. What can we expect?

Kim Sawyer: DJ Keno will open the night and get the energy going. One of the first things that guests will notice is the DJ stage in the center with a platform around it to dance on. The second thing guests will notice is the large bar with really fun, interactive elements and live installations. Then Chief Maverick, an awesome DJ coming from LA, will make his Nashville debut headlining the night and helping us ring in 2017.

DJ Keno at last year's NYE party

DJ Keno at last year's NYE party

What is your favorite part about this NYE production?

Kim Sawyer: I keep going back to the lights, but all of the elements are falling into place so seamlessly. I cannot express how excited I am to see everything come together. There are going to be some really cool installations, and even the costumes for the dancers are being flown in from Vegas. I have a really good feeling about this one.

Sample of 2017 NYE dancer's outfits, courtesy of Glen Cleary/Belluscious.

Sample of 2017 NYE dancer's outfits, courtesy of Glen Cleary/Belluscious.

What was the most memorable part about last year's New Year's Eve?

Kim Sawyer: I loved how creative we got with our bar set-up last year. There was an aerialist inside of a chandelier. It added such a "wow" factor. I challenged myself this year to get equally creative but also focus on faster bar service.

Can you describe M Street New Year's Eve in 3 words?

Kim Sawyer: Energetic dance party.

How will this party be different from other productions around Nashville?

Kim Sawyer: I think what makes our party stand out is that it will be a club party. There will be tons of cool concerts and fancy galas around town, but this is a high-energy, thoughtfully produced dance party. It will definitely be the largest club party happening in Nashville this year, with next-level productions.

Moving on to our Headliner, Chief Maverick. How would you describe your music?

Chief Maverick: I like to interpret my sets in a very energetic way. By adding my own twist on songs people know, my music evokes excitement and adrenaline. I would describe my music as having uplifting bridges and hard drops.

Amazing photo shoot of Chief Maverick shot by the incredible Audrey Crawford.

Amazing photo shoot of Chief Maverick shot by the incredible Audrey Crawford.

When did you start DJing?

Chief Maverick: Four years ago. I went to Counterpoint Music Festival in Atlanta, and it was my first EDM show. During Skrillex's set I decided that being a DJ is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Where did you get your DJ name?

Chief Maverick: My dad gave me the nickname Maverick when I was younger after the old Western TV series, Bret Maverick. The Chief part of my DJ name comes from my Choctaw heritage.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Chief Maverick: I am inspired by what I experience when I go to shows. I try to picture myself listening to the music I produce to see if I would enjoy it or want to dance to it.

What is your favorite show you have played?

Chief Maverick: When I lived in Seattle I played at a place called Club Volume. I was just getting started in my DJ career, and it was my first club show, so it was very memorable.

What do you think NYE will be like?

Chief Maverick: I think New Year's Eve will be super energetic and fun. It will definitely top any of the other parties I have done, especially with the combination of amazing lights and sound.

 

 

 

 

Halloween 2016: "Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here"

Entering “limbo,” we are suddenly overcome by a sea of red hues. Quickly passing by signs of our sins - lust, gluttony, avarice, wrath - we are greeted by a seductive woman in red, beckoning us to join the dance with the devil.

A multi-colored dance floor filled with fellow souls catches our attention while images of flames strewn across the walls dance in the reflection of our eyes. The music thumps throughout our body, taking the place of our heartbeat, our humanity. We lock eyes with an angel of darkness, luring us toward the stage.

A troupe of scantily-clad Burlesque dancers perform a sultry piece to a slow version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Their presence in front of the delivish mural painted by Brian Wooden drags us deeper into our enchanted trance.

 A round of Espolon tequila shots gets the night going; for the moment, it quenches our insatiable thirst. Chasing our tequila with the familiar flavors of cinnamon and orange added just enough spice that left our taste buds wanting more.

DJ AyDamn plays a thumping mix that gets our blood flowing. We feel the Espolon tequila trickle through our body, almost luring us onto the dance floor. Jumping to the beat of the music, aerialists dangling from hula hoops and ropes flip around above us. Who knew Hell would be so fun?

The Rosewall enchants us with its seductive music as we continue to move on the dance floor. The light shows coming from the DJ stage bring us deeper into a trance. We find ourselves hypnotized by the red tinge of the room as bodies sway to the motion of the beats.

As the night comes to a close, we exit the red abyss and breathe in some of the cool, October air. Our bodies still tingle as the music plays on inside. We look back and smile at our night in Inferno. 

M Street Chef Week: Expanding Palates/Palettes

Art (ärt) n. The conscious use of the imagination in the production of objects intended to be contemplated or appreciated as beautiful, as in the arrangement of forms, sounds, or words.

This past week, artists of all kinds gathered together to debut M Street’s first ever Chef Week. From our Executive Chefs to professional pinstripers and foreign fashion designers, attendees of last week’s event experienced a convergence of art from a variety of avenues. In case you missed out (or simply would like to relive the incredible events), open your mind and cleanse your palate as we take you on a journey through the inaugural M Street Chef Week.

Monday, 10/17: M Street Artist Alliance member, friend and innovative visual artist Nathan Brown painted special-edition, geometric-inspired, growlers to adorn the bar at Tavern Midtown. His penchant for color and sharp lines brightened Tavern’s hearth. Meanwhile, wafting from the kitchen were hearty aromas of Chef Jay’s new fall dishes. A fan favorite quickly became the Gojujang Dusted Duck Wings. In a similar light, Chef Shane Midnight of Whiskey Kitchen proudly unveiled his fall menu enhancements. The Hot Chicken Sandwich blends the perfect mix of spice and savory. The talented Brian Wooden simultaneously began painting a seductive and mysterious mural on the exterior wall of Whiskey Kitchen just around the corner. Brian began with a wheat-pasted portrait of a strong, confident, and visually stunning woman. He then took to completing his largest mural to-date by overlaying the signature grungy flair that has made him a household name in Nashville over the last year.

Tuesday, 10/18: Moto’s Ivy Room transformed into a colorful canvas for an especially decadent banquet where tables stood adorned with savory dishes, flowing wine, and the laughter and cheer of old and new friends sharing an evening of inspiration and sensation. Artist Brandon Donahue painted bottles of wine in shimmering shades of yellow, red, and purple. Meanwhile, local artisan Patrick Hayes (founder of 1767 Designs) decorated the room with his handcrafted woodwork pieces. Chef de Cuisine Luke Senderling featured his new menu items, incorporating authentic Italian cuisine with a modern twist to delight the taste buds of the curated guest-list comprised mostly of fellow artists and Nashville tastemakers.

Wednesday, 10/19: After a week of collaboration between artists Nathan Brown and Derrick Castle, the Saint Anejo faithful were amped to showcase their mural painted on the wall of the newly-extended Tequila Library. Flames, skulls, and a hint of rock n’ roll – this mural truly epitomizes the essence of Saint Anejo. Downstairs, Executive Chef Jason showcased a few of his new menu items, said to be inspired by his coworkers and kitchen family. His fresh Mexican Ramen dish warms the soul while Bar Manager Sarah Jerdon's unique Mexican Bushwacker tantalizes the tongue with a sweet cinnamon tingle.

Thursday, 10/20: Perhaps the most colorful day of Chef Week was day four. Pinstriping master Igor Acord and Virago's Executive Chef Andrew Whitney came together to create an interactive sushi dinner and sake pairing. Hailing from Virginia Beach, this is not the first time Igor has graced M Street with his presence. Igor was also part of both M Street's previous Art Goes Alternative installations. Together, Igor, Andrew, and Sushi Chef Himmi wowed the crowd with their fresh selections, artful sauces and vivid imaginations. Igor presented a fire-breathing dragon made of edible sauces. We might add that this mythical reptile blew real smoke from its nostrils to infuse vivid visual flavor as guests Matthew & Juliette Schultz (Cage the Elephant), Jon & Angelique Pittman (Native Nashville), Vivek Surti (VEA Supper Club), Chris Hyndman (M Street Founder & CEO) and others dined amidst feelings of amazement and delicious delight. Virago’s talented Sous Chefs Chloe and Nicole created a bonsai tree ornamented with cherry blossom macarons acting as a sweet nightcap to put the finishing touches on Virago’s Chef Week punctuation.

Friday and Saturday, 10/21-10/22: Both Friday and Saturday at Kayne Prime can be summed in two simple words: Filet + Fashion. Our servers, bartenders, and managers wore one-of-a-kind blazers and vests custom created and tailored by Swedish fashion designer Denise Roxenstone. Each clothing item possessed its very own unique panache. Stripes, tassels, camouflage and everything in between, these wearable works of art provided Tennessee's top steakhouse a florescent flair that shined bright in the sultry light of the vivid night. Executive Chef Robert Grace's style could not be contained by kitchen walls as his fall dishes made a silent splash on guests' plates and ultimately their palates, too. The Duck Confit Bahn Mi buns popped with an unexpected (Asian) flair and his Venison Rack was as smooth as butter. Pastry Chef Nasera showcased her very own masterpiece, the Autumn Spice Cake. Biting into this sweet treat, we could not help but feel fall flavors as they tickled each and every one of our taste buds.

The very first Chef Week on M Street has now come to a close. The debut class of Artist Alliance talent has put down their brushes, needles, and culinary tools, if only momentarily. In just a few short months, as spring returns amidst a season of fresh flavor, M Street will once again delight its loyal fans and first-time guests alike. We will be ready and waiting, impatiently, for you to join. See you there.

 

 

M Street Inferno: Dance With The Devil

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Fire, seduction, and a literary classic inspired M Street’s Creative Producer, Kim Sawyer to develop the theme for this year’s Halloween on M Street. We sat down with Kim and headliner DJ Aydamn (who was recently voted Nashville's Best DJ by the Nashville Scene) to see what we can expect as The Rosewall transforms into the Devil’s seductive lair for M Street Inferno on October 29th.

Kim Sawyer, Creative Producer

Kim Sawyer, Creative Producer

Dj Aydamn, Halloween 2016 Headliner

Dj Aydamn, Halloween 2016 Headliner

What inspired you to pick this year’s theme, M Street Inferno?

Kim: I wanted to have a club-like party in a classic M Street way; edgy, seductive, and sexy. My goal is to touch all of your senses. I was inspired by a combination of Dante’s Inferno and Studio 54. Essentially, what would a nightclub feel like in the depths of Hell.

The Rosewall: Before

The Rosewall: Before

Walk us through the night. What can we expect?

Kim: Upon entering The Rosewall, angels of darkness will greet you. They will walk through the hallway, passing the 8 circles of Hell from Dante’s Inferno. Once you ultimately reach the 9th circle, Treachery, the ultimate Satan Seductress will lead you into the fiery, red club.

The DJs will be in the middle of The Rosewall with a 360 degree dance floor. The dance floor will be a lit-up disco floor. More angels of darkness and aerialists will be dancing and flying on stage as you continue to indulge on into the dark of night.

Throughout the evening, we will have performances by devilishly-costumed burlesque professionals. Expect plentiful fiery, red, & sexy undertones surrounding, guiding you through your evening.

Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015

What is your favorite part about this Halloween production?

Kim: I love how The Rosewall will be truly transformed into something Nashville has never seen before. Everything will be very red, very artsy, and very dramatic. An integral part, and also my personal favorite, are the performers; the DJs, the dancers, and the aerialists will have beautiful costuming and theatrical roles.

DJ Aydamn: I am super excited to be the "Lucifer" DJ. It is going to be an epic dance party filled with super-hot decor and sounds.

Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015

What type of music can we expect at M Street Inferno?

DJ Aydamn: Spook-tastic music with a mix of EDM and songs that you cannot help but dance to. Everyone better get ready to throw down your Hell-ish disco moves.

Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015

What was the most memorable part of last year’s Halloween party, Spellbound on M Street?

Kim: I loved the whole vibe of our guests; we had such a fun and creative crowd.  In terms of the production, the burlesque performers were my favorite. They nailed the theme and were mesmerizing. Nobody could take their eyes off of them. We are using the same dance company again and I know they are going to knock it out of the park with this year’s Inferno theme.

Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015

Can you describe M Street Inferno in 3 words?

Kim: Seductive, Transformative, and Creative.

How will this party be different from other productions?

Kim: This will be a true club and party vibe, with amazing lighting effects and performances, but we are also focused on bringing a creative spin to a classic literary and Halloween theme. The transformation of The Rosewall will encompass what Halloween is all about: having fun and being creative. This production will completely move you to another world.

Kim Sawyer, Creative Producer

Kim Sawyer, Creative Producer

Kim: We have the most fun DJs In the city: Spice J, Keno, and Aydam, who all curated a special set list for the occasion. As always, we are taking a sexy, over-the-top, and innovative spin on Halloween.

Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015

For tickets visit: mstreetinferno.eventbrite.com.

Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015

Millennial Wine Group: The Next Generation of Wine

Meet Matt Ramos and Sean McGee, the creators of Millennial Wine Group. Their venture is taking wine education to the next level by connecting, interacting, and intriguing their followers. By breaking down the basics of wine, Matt and Sean make enjoying wine second nature.

Matt Ramos (left) and Sean McGee (right)

Matt Ramos (left) and Sean McGee (right)

Where are you from?

Matt: I grew up in Thousand Oaks, California and Sean is from San Francisco, CA.

How did you two meet?

Matt: I was down in Atlanta taking the Sommelier exam, and we all just got out of one portion of the exam. I spotted two guys who looked my age. Looking to blow off some steam and de-stress, I went up to talk to them. One of them ended up being Sean. We found out that we worked in fine dining restaurants less than a mile apart back in Nashville.

How did you become interested in wine?

Matt: My father has been a wine collector for a long time. He has a very extensive wine cellar, and I grew up around that lifestyle. Once I turned 21 he started sharing his wines with me. Having been in the fine dining industry for a while, I am naturally drawn to the wine-side of restaurants.

Sean: I initially became interested through my work at restaurants. I wanted to know more about the products I was selling. When I started to build a base of knowledge about the wines I realized how interesting it was and got bit by the wine bug.

How did you two come up with the idea for Millennial Wine Group?

Sean: Our friend runs a video producing company here in Nashville. We were helping him out and were discussing how nobody in a younger demographic was talking about wine. Immediately, we got the idea to create something for millennials to connect with wine via articles, blogs, and videos. Our product is not just for millennials, any generation can enjoy the information we are sharing. Millennials do, more than ever, make up a large majority of people who are drinking wine right now.

Matt: Going off of that, we wanted to bridge the gap between how the wine industry is being marketing to our generation. Our experience, knowledge, and age helps to fill that gap. We can explain to you that wine does not have to be an intimidating thing. A 23 or 24 year old can enjoy it too. We aim to create value for people when choosing wine.

What platforms are you using for Millennial Wine Group?

Sean: Right now, it is a YouTube channel that ties in with social media. The main goal of our content is to be both educational and entertaining. We give people quick ideas on bottles, cocktails, cigars, etc. Essentially, we are attempting to turn the beverage industry into a lifestyle rather than something intimidating. Millennial Wine Group creates a platform for people to interact via our blog, YouTube channel, and social media channels.

When did this first go live?

Sean: We started in mid-August.

What is your favorite wine?

Matt: That is one of the toughest questions. When I started studying for the Sommelier exams, I discovered a whole new world of wines that I never knew previously. I would say that my favorite wine becomes something I thought I would not like or something I have never tried. That opens up a whole new world of opportunity.

Sean: To put it really simply: French wine.

Have either of you visited wine destinations?

Matt: My parents now live in Napa and I try to make it out there 3-4 times a year.

Sean: Being from California, we have both done almost all of California’s wine regions. I recently explored some of Arizona’s wine regions and I also had the chance to visit wine regions in Australia.

What are some wine destinations you want to visit?

Sean: Definitely Europe. In particular France, Italy, and Spain.

Matt: In the near future, Willamette Valley in Oregon is next on my list.

What types of trends in the wine industry do you see happening right now?

Matt: I see a younger demographic consuming wine, specifically young professionals in their 20's.

Sean: Also, global warming is affecting the way wine grows now. Southern England is making sparkling wine, which never used to be a thing. With that, the style of wines are changing. They are more full-bodied, fruit-forward wines, and not so much lighter, delicate wines due to the climate.

What level sommelier are you?

Matt: We are both level 2 Sommeliers.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Sean: I’m going to answer for Matt. He is a big golfer, and you can find him golfing once a week. He enjoys getting outside, being active, going to the lake. I, personally, love the craft cocktail scene. Through Millennial Wine Group, we want to touch on the craft cocktail scene in Nashville. We experiment all the time with craft cocktails at home.

With Sean as a current Kayne Prime team member and Matt as a former one, what is your favorite part about M Street?

Sean: They create a big platform for employees to be successful with ventures like ours. They provide a really nurturing environment for employees to be grow both personally and as a group. They have supported Millennial Wine Group and our passion by letting us film episodes there. They just have really helped us grow.

Matt: The educational courses they put in place and the opportunity to interact with people is incredible. Those opportunities ultimately led us to the idea of Millennial Wine Group.

Who are some of your wine role models?

Sean: Rajat Parr. He is a famous sommelier and now a wine maker who makes three different wines. He is an ultimate icon in the wine industry.

Matt: Brian McClintock. He used to be a baseball player and became a Master Sommelier. While he was playing baseball, he was also working in restaurants, so he is very relatable. He is a cool, young guy at the pinnacle of the wine industry.

What are your ultimate goals with Millennial Wine Group?

Sean: I want to see Millennial Wine Group be as successful as possible, and then diversify ourselves. Whether that be a wine label, a wine show, or something else, I am excited for our future.

Matt: The wine industry is constantly changing, so we never know what the trends will be like in say, ten years. We have to change with it.

With Millennial Wine Group on our radar, we will be sure to turn to Matt and Sean's expertise the next time we are looking for a robust red, a refreshing white, or a trendy craft cocktail. Cheers!

Where to find Millennial Wine Group:

Website: http://www.millennialwinegroup.com

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdiyqF51X9xGucw8hLq9obg

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MillennialWineGroup/

Blog: http://www.millennialwinegroup.com/blog

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/millennialwinegroup/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/millennialwine_

 

M Street Introductions: Amy Estrada

Introducing Amy Estrada: musician, songwriter, singer, and member of the M Street family. With a heart of gold, her compassion shines through everything that she does. We are so excited to be alongside Amy as she walks down her musical path.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised on a farm in Atascadero, California.

What brought you to Nashville?

I wanted to take the next step in my career, so I moved here in 2012. I knew that moving to Nashville was best to further my writing.

What inspired you to start singing?

My mom taught me how to sing. She used to sing to me and play all types of music for me, especially Country music. I grew up singing and have been singing my entire life.

Do you play any instruments?

I taught myself how to play the guitar at 18. I also dabble in the mandolin, ever since my mom bought me one a couple years ago. I definitely want to get better at it because mandolin is on my record.

Tell us about your new album you just recorded.

In March, I recorded my first major project Wildflowers and Whiskey at RCA Studio A. RCA Studio A is a historic and famous studio. Dolly Parton recorded one of my all-time favorite songs there, “Jolene”. Willie Nelson and Elvis have also recorded there. Most recently, some of my greatest influences Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, and Chris Stapleton recorded their albums in Studio A.

Wildflowers and Whiskey is such a special project to me because it consists of songs that I have been working on for the past four and a half years living in Nashville. I actually wanted to record my album last year, but it did not work out. I am convinced it is because one of the songs, “Maybe It’s the Moonshine”, was not written yet. Recording my album has been such an incredible journey with friends who helped to collaborate throughout the process.

We finally released the album during the end of July, and since then it has really gotten a huge positive response from listeners. You can find it on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora Radio.

Who inspires you musically?

I have all kinds of influences. Some that come to mind are Dolly Parton, Alison Kraus, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, and Miranda Lambert. Also, I love the truth behind Merle Haggard’s writing. I am a very lyrically-driven person, so my influences mainly speak to me because of their writing.

What is your favorite song on your album?

Ah! That is so hard. They are all like my babies. I would have to say either “Maybe It’s the Moonshine” or “Wildflowers and Whiskey”. I mean, “Wildflowers and Whiskey” is the title song and it is so important to the album. I have held onto the hook and the idea around that song for so long. When I finally co-wrote it with two of my dear friends, it came together beautifully. “Maybe It’s the Moonshine” is the perfect summer song.

What is your favorite song of all time?

Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” because of the depth and heartache behind it. There is so much emotion evoked from that song. “Holding onto You” by Miranda Lambert is also one of my favorites. It is so vulnerable, open, and honest.

What is your favorite genre?

Country. That is what I grew up listening to. It resonates with me because I am a very lyrically-drawn person, and country lyrics are so open and truthful. Also, I love the instrumentation that goes along with country like the dobro, steel guitar, and mandolin.

It is interesting because my singing style is not just Country, just Americana, or just Bluegrass. When people ask me what my style is, I answer with Country-Americana.

What is your favorite M Street memory?

I have been with Tavern for almost 2 years, so there are tons of great memories. Probably the one that is most dear to me is when a guest from out of town helped contribute to funding my record. Every day at Tavern, I meet people that are truly intrigued with my passion for music. I have met some wonderful people through M Street and it is definitely the culture and atmosphere here that cultivates these conversations. Of all the people I have met, so many have helped support my dream, whether it be contributing to my music in monetary ways, sharing my music on Facebook, or buying a CD.

What is your favorite Tavern cocktail?

My favorite drink is the Smoke and Sage.

What is your favorite Tavern meal?

The Singapore Stir-fry during brunch.

Do you have any exciting musical events coming up?

Yes! I will be performing at Belle Meade Plantation winery on September 17th. This is my first performance there since the release of my album. Toward the end of this month, I will be holding an EP release show in Nashville. The date is not set yet, but you can follow me on Facebook to find out the exact date once I have picked one.

I would absolutely love to be featured on a local radio station. It would be so cool to hear my music somewhere like the Bobby Bones show.

What do you do during your free-time other than singing/songwriting?

In addition to all aspects of music (singing, writing, playing), I collect antiques. I have a very cute one bedroom apartment that is full of antiques. My family has a lavender farm in California, and my apartment is modeled after that vintage, industrial, farmhouse vibe. I have a small vintage camera collection that I am building on. I am constantly antiquing, going to yard sales, and finding things to refurbish and reuse. I have a lot of fun doing that here.

Amy’s passion for both music and the M Street culture is remarkable. Her talent extends beyond the walls of Tavern, and watching her future unfold here in Nashville is extremely exciting. To listen to Amy’s music over and over again, visit iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, or Pandora Radio. You can now create an “Amy Estrada” station on Pandora. For all updates on Amy’s musical journey visit her website at amyestradamusic.com.

M Street Introductions: Jason Slimak

In the kitchen or on the restaurant floor, Executive Chef Jason Slimak always steals the show. His energy and positive attitude are a constant source of inspiration for those around him. As both a friend and family member to the Saint Anejo team, Chef Jason’s passion for creating innovative fare is remarkable. Some might recognize Jason from his regular visits with tables, always making sure that his guests have been well fed and satisfied. We could not be more excited to share his story with you.  

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.

How did you become interested in cooking?

God bless her soul, my mother could burn water. So, I started cooking for us at an early age. It was a way for us to learn and be together with family in the kitchen.

How did you end up in Nashville?

I moved here a little over four years ago. I was looking for something different and decided to try out Nashville because it has an up-and-coming food scene. Two days after I landed in Nashville, I met with M Street.

What was your journey with M street like?

After I had my interview, I starting working at Whiskey Kitchen as a Sous Chef. Chris Hyndman (M Street's CEO) was looking for an Executive Chef just prior to opening his Saint Anejo concept. He realized that I had been the Executive Chef of De Cero Taqueria in Chicago, one of his favorite Mexican restaurants, and asked me to join the team.

What’s your favorite part about working for M Street?

The amount of creative freedom I have in the kitchen. It is so awesome that we are able to share our ideas with Chris. He is open to our creativity and is always willing to provide feedback.

What is your favorite menu item?

I would have to say any of our burritos. They are big, fat, and amazing. The shrimp and mango quesadilla is also a favorite.

What is your favorite thing to cook?

Comfort food. Chicken pot pie, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, southern fried chicken. The good stuff that sticks to your ribs.

Do you like Tequila?

I love Anejo. I really like Bourbon, so naturally I like Anejo. Both Anejo and Bourbon are aged in white oak barrels.

What is your favorite Anejo?

Oh, goodness. (Turns to Saint’s bartender Lindie) "Lindie what’s the one Anejo you had me try that I loved?" Oh, it was Milagro Select Barrel Reserve.

What are some of your outside hobbies?

Legos. They help me relax and unwind from the stress of the kitchen and the office.

What’s your favorite Saint Anejo memory?

A few months ago during brunch I came out of the kitchen for a few minutes. I like to do my rounds to see how everything is going out on the floor. This young lady walked past me with a look like she was searching for the bathroom, but instead she stopped and said “are you the chef?” I said, “Yes, how can I help you?” She came over and gave me a hug and said, “Thank you, thank you. It is always amazing.” Stuff like that keeps me going. We do not really get recognized in the kitchen for what we do, so it was amazing.

What is something someone might not know about you?

I sleep eat. Apparently in the middle of the night I wake up and make food. Sometimes I will actually cook eggs.

Who is your mentor?

Anthony Bourdain. His adventures are absolutely incredible. The way that he started at the bottom in the kitchen and worked his way up reminds me of myself.

How did you start your culinary career?

I started off as a dishwasher in grade school and worked my way up. I have done every position in the kitchen, on the line, and in the front of house. I have been a bar manager, bartender, server, and busboy. I love cooking, so naturally I knew I wanted to go to culinary school. I always want to keep learning. I try to teach myself something new every day.

Have you ever been to Mexico?

Yes. I have been to a few places in Mexico. Most notably, I really enjoyed visiting Monterey and Zacateca. I love how the cuisines are different in the coast and the middle of the country. The moles, the beans, and the tortillas are all unique to the particular regions.

Executive Chef Jason’s love of cooking is the epitome of passion. His hunger to learn and create new, inventive dishes is continually growing. With an adoration for food, his work family, and Saint Anejo’s guests, Chef Jason serves as an incredible role model to his peers and the rest of the M Street family.

Mix It Up: The M Street Mixer (Mixology & Appetizer Competition)

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius.

This past weekend employees from M Street’s six concepts gathered together to share their creativity at the M Street Mixer Competition. With weeks of experimentation and preparation, each restaurant's team delivered incredible appetizers and cocktails that wowed the crowd of over 300 attendees.

Each concept assembled two teams, a chef team and a bartender team. In a “chopped”-inspired challenge, the chef teams were tasked with creating two appetizers, one using pork loin and the other using tofu. The bartender teams were challenged to think outside the box to craft two drinks, one with Mezcal and the other with a liquor of their choice.

Virago’s Chef Chloe and Chef Andrew took inspiration from Middle-Eastern cuisine to invent their "Persian Grilled Pork Loin with Cucumber Labna", which won the “Best Pork Loin Appetizer" category. For their tofu dish, the pair settled for something on the sweet side, offering the "Whipped Tofu with Yuzu and Blackberry in a Lace Cookie Shell" dessert.

Four talented bartenders from Virago, Cathy, Michael, Lauren, and Catherine, joined forces to mix two deliciously innovative cocktails. The "Toasted Tulip" was a Mezcal, yuzu, blueberry, and sage concoction, while the "Rhubarbara Ann" was a lavender, grapefruit, and rhubarb mix.

Whiskey Kitchen’s Chef Daniel and Chef Shane offered a fresh, summer "Blackberry BBQ Pork Loin". Chef Daniel’s life as a vegan helped him craft an amazing "Bourbon Peach Tofu Cheesecake".

Levi and Kenneth, two incredibly talented and hilarious bartenders from Whiskey Kitchen, put their minds together to create both the "Siesta en Nola", a savory Mezcal cocktail, as well as the "Plum Punctual".

Moto’s Chef Luke developed perfectly flavorful "Bahn Mi Focaccia Sliders". He paired with one of Moto's managers, Tristan, to prepare the crispy and delightful "Spinach Tofu Ravioli".

Christina, a Moto bartender, mixed a refreshing Mezcal cocktail, the "Anguria Shrubbed Granita", that conveyed hints of watermelon, sage, blackberry, lime, mint, and honey. Rayce, another one of Moto's talented bar staff, took home the "Best Cocktail" prize with his "Pimm’s Revenge" concoction, a mix of Pimm's, gin, lemon, rosemary, orange, strawberry, cucumber, cilantro, ginger ale, and Moretti.

Kayne Prime’s Sous Chef Steven put a new spin on the classic French doughnut with his "BBQ Pork Loin Beignet", winning him the title of the “Crowd Favorite Appetizer”. He embraced the summertime peach craze with his tofu "Peaches and Cream" dish.

David from Kayne Prime won 2nd place for “Best in Show” with his hypnotizing "Morning Smoke" drink. Created with Mezcal, banana syrup, coffee, and egg whites, this cocktail provided a flavorful kick. Kayne's bartenders Ben and Brian also crafted the "18th Century Dandy" cocktail with refreshing ingredients of honeydew and lime.

Tavern’s Sous Chef Michael prepared a perfectly sweet and savory "Braised Pork Loin with Watermelon Salad" as well as "Grilled Tofu Spring Rolls with Smoked Honey Sriracha". The spring rolls took the cake for “Best Tofu Appetizer” and 3rd place for “Best in Show”.

Lacey and Wes from Tavern joined forces to craft two memorable cocktails. The first, "Fire and Ice", won both “Best Mezcal Cocktail” and “Best in Show.” This grand-prize-winning cocktail was a mix of spicy Mezcal and refreshing mango puree. Their second cocktail, "The Carpenter", embodied hints of earl grey and black walnut.

Chef Travis from Saint Anejo embraced the Mezcal trend with his "Ancho Rub Mezcal Braised Pork Loin". He drew influence from Saint’s famously delicious tacos with his "Grilled Tofu Taco".

With faces adorned in sugar skull make-up, Linnea, Monica, Nikki, and Calum represented Saint Anejo while serving the blood orange and sweet vermouth infused "Hielo Humado". Linnea was awarded with the “Crowd Favorite Cocktail” prize for her "Blue Night" creation, a blueberry-themed cocktail.

The M Street family's bond always shines brightly through at events like this. From motivating each other to create unique cocktails and inspired dishes to congratulating one another on their awards, there was an undeniable air of gratitude and happiness at The M Street Mixer Competition this year.

Down the Rabbit Hole We Go...

"Look after the senses and the sounds will look after themselves." - Lewis Carroll

We became entangled in a mystical trance as we walked through the doors of Citizen. Melting clocks adorning the front walkway perfectly symbolized our perception of time melting away as we ventured further into the underground world of psychedelic sophistication. Larger-than-life playing cards and red roses dangled from the sky, welcoming us into the party.

We found ourselves drawn to the bar where a sea of glowing teacups were floating. Bottles that said “drink me” pulled us in closer. Dressed in black, the bartenders appeared as shadows working in the moonlight. One asked if we would like an absinthe shot, and without hesitation we nodded, retrieving a token and directions toward the emerald green glow of the specialty absinthe bar.

Finding our way to the source of the glow, a woman with golden hair smiled as we handed her the tokens. She mixed up an absinthe concoction in a beautiful crystal jar and poured two small flutes. As we imbibed the absinthe shot, we became mesmerized by the vines of flashing blue lights descending from the ceiling. The music caught our attention, and we made our way to the dance floor.

DJ KDSML’s mix vibrated through our bodies as we danced next to oversized red roses. Dancers dressed as Alice and the Mad Hatter surrounded the dance floor, elevating the mood.

We tucked away into a dark, intimate booth lit up with glowing red roses. As we viewed the party in front of us, we could not help but smile and fall deeper into a wonder-like daze.

As the night evolved, the line between reality and the world we had stumbled upon faded. Familiar smiles of close friends danced in and out of focus as the beats carried on into the night. Passing the sea of floating teacups and the wall of clocks, we said farewell to Alice and emerged from the rabbit hole into the night. A swift gust of humid summer air filled our lungs as if to awaken us from a dream. Groups of party-goers mingled under the glow of the streetlights waiting for their rides, each telling a similar tale of their entrancing experience.