Meet M Street

People of M Street: Edgar Victoria

Earlier this month, we sat down with Edgar Victoria, Virago's newest Chef de Cuisine. 

DSCF6683.jpg

Edgar began his journey with M Street a little over a year ago as a Sous Chef at Kayne Prime. In January of 2018, he began his new role at Virago as the Chef de Cuisine. Edgar's skill, hard work and creativity led him to this new leadership position, and already, he has proven to be a great asset to the entire Virago team. With his vast knowledge in culinary cooking techniques and passion for farm-to-table ingredients, Edgar brings to the table fresh ideas and his own twist on Japanese cuisine. Continue reading to learn more about Edgar and his life on the block.


Where are you from?

I was born in Mexico City, but I’ve lived in Nashville basically my whole life.


When did you first start working in the restaurant industry?

The first time I stepped into a kitchen was when I was 18 years old. My friend asked me if I wanted to work with him, and at first, I said no. After some convincing, I took the job. I started as a dishwasher and worked my way up to prep cook, line cook, and then saute cook. This is where I found my passion and realized that I was in love with cooking.

DSCF6623 copy.jpg

Where did your career go from here?

Well I knew I wanted to learn from the very best. So, I started researching the best chefs in Nashville and began to work for a few of them. Before making my way to M Street, I worked in several farm-to-table restaurants under notable James Beard Award chefs. I also worked under a Michelin Star chef who helped develop me into the chef I am today.


DSCF6630.jpg

What did you take with you from these experiences?

I learned so much from these experiences. I realized I loved cooking with local, seasonal ingredients. I also learned all about cooking different types of food and combining different cultures. For example, if I’m cooking a dish, I might use Latin American ingredients with Japanese cooking techniques. Or maybe if I’m using local, southern ingredients, I might use French cooking techniques. I always want to put my own twist on every dish and surprise people with different flavors.


DSCF6662.jpg

What is your favorite vegetable to work with?

I love cooking with mushrooms. My grandmother had a garden when I was growing up, and some of my first memories about food began with watching her in the kitchen. She would use fresh vegetables from her garden to cook and made a lot of dishes with mushrooms. She is a big inspiration to me along with my Latin roots.


How did you end up working at M Street?

I found out about M Street and first did some research on the company. I really loved the culture behind it and wanted to give it a try. I interviewed and after just a few days, I knew it was home for me.


DSCF6644.jpg

How long have you been with the company?

I came to M Street a little over a year ago. I started out at Kayne Prime as a Sous Chef and at the beginning of this year, I transferred to Virago and became the Chef de Cuisine.  


DSCF6670.jpg

What makes M Street different than other places you’ve worked?

The culture here is different than any other restaurant I’ve worked in before. While it is very chef driven, it also is very family oriented. It is very professional which allows for open communication. There is also a lot of teamwork.


What is your favorite thing about working at Virago?

I love the communication and the teamwork. At the end of the day, it’s not about one person. It’s about the team. I’m very passionate about teamwork, and love that we all work together to give each other feedback and make each other better. I also love collaborating with such a talented team that comes from all different cultural backgrounds. We are constantly learning from one another. We are like one big family.


20150908-DSC_0860.jpg

What is your favorite item on the Virago menu?

The Truffle Futomaki


What is your favorite dish to make?

Pork belly and grits with tomato gravy.


DSCF6676 (1).jpg

What do you like to do in your free time outside of the kitchen?

I love riding my motorcycle, reading books and spending time with my family.


Who are some of your culinary role models?

I have a couple. My top four are Enrique Olvera from Pujol, Daniel Humm from Eleven Madison Park, Corey Lee from Benu and lastly, Virgilio Martinez from Central.  

 


DSCF6603.jpg

Edgar's culinary skill, positivity and passion for teamwork have been felt since his time with the M Street family. We are so excited to see his journey continue with us and are thrilled to watch him grow in this new leadership position. Congratulations, Edgar!

 

People of M Street: Robert Rose

We sat down with Moto's newest leader, Robert Rose. 

DSC_4471.jpg

Rob began his journey with M Street at Kayne Prime in 2013 as a Food Runner and eventually worked his way up to the Beverage Director at Kayne Prime, serving as a certified Level 2 Sommelier. His desire to challenge himself and further his education allowed for him to transition into the role of General Manager at Moto. With his vast history of experience, Rob serves as both a role model and friend to the entire M Street family.


Where are you from?

I am from Clarksville, TN. My dad was in the military, so we moved around a lot until he retired in Tennessee.


How did you end up in Nashville?

I moved to Nashville in 2012 with my wife as she was getting her Master’s Degree at Belmont.


DSC_4503 (1).jpg

What influenced your transition from Kayne to Moto?

I am always seeking to grow in my role at M Street, so my transition from Kayne to Moto was all about development and learning how I could best manage not only one department but also an entire fine dining restaurant, which I had not done before. Even though I have vast fine dining experience from Kayne, I knew that translating that to Moto would be both interesting and challenging. 


20150922-DSC_1509.jpg

What attracted you to Moto in particular?

I knew I liked working with wine, and Moto has an expansive wine list with a solid crew of knowledgeable team members. I had worked in Sushi before Kayne Prime, so I was excited to work in an Italian concept. It’s an open style of dining that can be designed any way you prefer, whereas Kayne is very systematic. Having a blank slate in terms of beverage and cuisine pairings at Moto is stimulating. I think it is M Street's most unique concept in that you can experience Moto in many different waysany occasion, any budget, and any flavorand still have a great time. 


21617479_953554171458468_5874735722102685850_n.jpg

How are Moto and Kayne Prime different for you?

The big thing is that Moto is a more intimate place since it is smaller, so you get more opportunities to engage with guests. The team is also a lot smaller, so it feels very tight-knit. and you see the same faces more frequently. The Moto family has been so welcoming to me, and it's great to know my Kayne Prime family is just across the street.


Which competencies that you gained at Kayne Prime have helped you succeed thus far at Moto?

Running the beverage program at Kayne was a great foundation for managing an even more complex beverage program at Moto. Moto has a much more expansive list with a lot of variety, so having that wine knowledge from Kayne has been very helpful.


DSC_4482.jpg

What is your vision for Moto?

I’d love to see the beverage education program grow and I’d love to see more Somms on the team so that we can really showcase how great our wine list is. There's definitely an opportunity to elevate Moto to that advanced level of wine pairing service.


26169079_1009258915887993_3219108704135790936_n.jpg

What are you most excited about being the new leader of Moto?

I’m excited for a chance to connect with the staff and for them to come to me for anything. It’s different from when I was at Kayne Prime because people would come to me with beverage or wine questions, whereas I can assist my team with any challenge or opportunity that arises.


Where can we find you when you’re not on the block?

A lot of my time is spent with my familymy wife and my daughterI can never get enough time with them. The rest of my time is spent fulfilling my obligations as a member of the Army Reserve, something I am still very passionate about to this day. The Reserve has taught me how to manage people and be responsible for multiple duties. A lot of the values from the Army Reserve have translated over well to managing people and achieving goals in the fine dining industry.


23915826_988387474641804_5288776298648896870_n.jpg

What is your favorite Moto dish?

Oh, this is tough. I am consistently blown away by the pizzas coming out of the pizza kitchen because they are really unique and different from a lot of the other dishes we offer. At the same time, we have a really fantastic Pork Chop that I regularly recommend to guests.


What is your favorite Moto wine or cocktail?

I enjoy the Barrel Aged Manhattan. It is really inventive and fun. Anytime you can barrel-age a cocktail it makes it so complex and flavorful.


Who do you look up to?

Chef Robert Grace. He has done so much for me in this company and has shown me the ropes since the beginning. He was there when I started at Kayne Prime as a Food Runner and encouraged me to learn more and grow with a career I didn’t even know I wanted to pursue at the time. He still guides me more than anyone to get better and challenge myself.


DSC_4519.jpg

As an original pioneer of the true M Street spirit, Rob is an integral part of the M Street family. Rob continually sets the bar for guest experiences and is always yearning to grow and explore new realms of fine dining. We are so thankful to have Rob as part of the M Street family—it has been truly inspiring to watch him grow with us.

 

M Street Holiday Party Presents: "Dunk and Pie The Director"

Every January, the M Street family gets together to celebrate the success of another fantastic year. Team members from Virago, Moto, Saint Anejo, Whiskey Kitchen, Kayne Prime, and Tavern gathered together at The Rosewall for a night of memories, fun, and games.

This year, we wanted to give back to an organization that is very dear to us, Feed America First, whose goal is to provide food to those who feed the hungry across the Southern United States. To add some excitement to the night, we decided to assemble the "Director Dunk Tank" and the "Pie-A-Director". 

Participating in the Dunk Tank and Pie-Throwing were Director of Operations Gregg McDermott, Director of Culinary Operations Robert Grace, Associate Director of Operations Nick Elliot, and Associate Director of Culinary Operations Andrew Whitney. The night of the party, they adorned eclectic outfits to humor the whole team.

The M Street team excitedly purchased sets of balls for the Dunk Tank target and pies to throw at the Director of their choosing, with all proceeds going toward Feed America First. While most of the Directors had multiple wipe-outs, they took one for the team, helping us raise over $500 for Feed America First.

Check out the hilarity of the Dunk Tank and Pie-Throwing below!

Dancing With The Nashville Stars

21077709_10154858417006728_5477775424719241789_n.jpg

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.

22051152_10155067684778723_2650038855627150366_o.jpg

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."


23472857_10155173611263723_7595019589728538072_n.jpg

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.

 

 


23518938_10155186081068723_5631452278993554025_n.jpg

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.

23593654_10155186075238723_5681882789209264375_o.jpg

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.

21751519_1042624949235352_7962226946635457717_n.jpg

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.

12745412_592287924269059_3061367964419755185_n.jpg

How did you start sushi-making at Virago?

13087814_632263593604825_9115968025525378334_n.jpg

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.

52. Katana (2)_preview.jpg

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.

18447536_927349164096265_5607295080489802613_n.jpg

 

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.

22406033_1106159296215250_5964551930668360474_n.jpg

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.

14650238_725747334256450_856230036149443742_n.jpg

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

DSC05019.jpg

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.

_DSC3419.jpg

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?

DSC05040.jpg

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.

DSC05033.jpg

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.

unnamed.jpg

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.

20228418_1996874623911996_379393486356962760_n.jpg

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?

DSC05018.jpg

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.

Whiskey Kitchen Sign.jpg

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:

DSC05042.jpg

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.

IMG_0150.jpg

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.

DSC_2762.jpg

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.

20151216-_DSC0488.jpg

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. 

20151204-_DSC0818.jpg

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.

IMG_6084.JPG

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.

DSCF5946-2.jpg

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.

IMG_6055.JPG

What is your favorite thing to cook?

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

DSCF1600.jpg

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.

DSC_5868.jpg

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.

DSCF1468.jpg

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.

DSC_5875.jpg

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)

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.

DSC_4535.jpg

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.

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.

 

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.

M Street Introductions: Robert Rose

We sat down with Kayne Prime’s resident sommelier, Rob Rose, to hear his unique and inspiring story. Whether it is his impeccable eye for detail or his polished presence, Rob’s devotion to his craft is remarkable. He is constantly striving to challenge himself and further his education, especially in the realm of wine. Rob serves as both a role model for those he leads at Kayne Prime and a benchmark of professionalism and personal development for the entire M Street family.  

Describe your journey with M Street.

I had just returned from Afghanistan after serving in the army and was on the hunt for a job. Having done a lot of humanitarian aid work in the Army, I found that my previous work experience did not really translate into a definable job in Nashville. My friend suggested that I look into Kayne Prime as I was searching for a job. I started at Kayne in January of 2013 as a food runner and worked my way up to my current position. Currently, I serve as the Beverage Director at Kayne Prime and also as the Beverage Tech at M Street's support center where I develop the wine and spirits programs for our restaurant concepts.

How did you become interested in wine?

I never really had an appreciation for wine until I started working at Kayne Prime. It all started when I took my first wine course in the support center. I had worked at M Street for about two or three months when Chris Hyndman (M Street’s CEO) led a wine 101 course. Being my first interaction with learning about wine, I quickly realized that developing my knowledge of wine would be very useful for my job at Kayne Prime. I decided to take the introductory sommelier course following the wine class at M Street. Six months later, I got certified as a level two sommelier. I have been continuously working on my wine knowledge ever since.

What is your favorite wine?

Wow, that is so difficult. I have never met a wine I could not appreciate. This time of year, I like to drink Rieslings and high acid Whites that are crisp, cool, and not super heavy.

Where is your dream wine destination?

I would love to plan a trip to Australia and New Zealand to visit some vineyards there. They are always on the cutting edge of the wine world.

Which wine destinations have you already visited?

I have been out to California and Washington.

Do you have a favorite bottle of wine that Kayne Prime carries?

It would be so hard to choose a favorite. I hand select the wines that we put on the list, so I love each bottle for different reasons.

What is your favorite Kayne Prime menu item?

Oh, this is also tough! They are all ridiculously good. But, if I had to pick a favorite it would be the Farro Rigatoni. I seem to eat that quite a bit.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 8.55.11 AM.png

What is something someone might know not about you?

A lot of people probably do not know that I am in the Army Reserve. Every year, I do training for three and a half weeks in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

How do you spend your time outside of M Street?

Most of my time is taken up by my daughter who is a year and half old. I try to spend every minute I get with her. I am also always studying wine, trying to get better at my job.

What is your favorite part about working for M Street?

The growth. I am so fortunate to be able to learn new things and have people take an interest in having me learn. I have never worked at a place where I have been encouraged to pursue anything I want as far as educating myself and having such limitless potential to move up. It is very rewarding.

Who is your mentor?

At M Street my mentor is Chef Bob (Kayne Prime's Executive Chef). He is always trying to make me better at what I do. He is so professional and put-together; it really inspires me to do the same. Chef is one of the most creative people I have ever worked with. When we sit down to build a menu together, he fires off ideas that I would never even think of. I am always striving to make him proud and be as professional as he is.

What is your favorite Kayne Prime memory?

A couple of months ago, I met a soldier who just got back from overseas. His family did not have a reservation, but we were able to take care of him. I ended up chatting with him and it turned out that he had been in the same part of Afghanistan as I. It was such a great feeling to be able to share what I do now with someone who had similar previous experiences to me prior to M Street. Anytime you get to connect with someone table side creates such great memories.

Thank you to Rob for always reminding us what M Street is all about: memories, personal development, and meaningful relationships. Rob’s presence in the M Street community is both refreshing and inspirational. We are so grateful to have him as part of the M Street family.

M Street Introductions: Aubrey Collins

Introducing Aubrey Collins, one of Whiskey Kitchen’s most dedicated and joyful team members. To Aubrey, M Street is like her second family. Her enthusiasm and evident joy is highly contagious to those around her, both Whiskey Kitchen colleagues and Whiskey guests alike. With love for her coworkers and the desire to continually grow within the company, we cannot wait to see where Aubrey’s path leads her.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I moved to Nashville 10 years ago to pursue a music career.

Describe your journey with M Street.

I was in the market for a new job and decided to come into Whiskey Kitchen one night for some drinks. At the time, I did not know that my friend Kendra actually worked there. She served me some drinks at the bar and suggested that I apply for a job. I was so excited about the opportunity that I immediately came in and interviewed with Sophie Stevens and Nick Elliott (Whiskey Kitchen’s Manager and General Manager).

I started as a server in March of 2015. Subsequently, I worked my way up to bartending and am now a manager-in-training. My goal is to move up within the company. I cannot wait to take advantage of any opportunities that come my way and am so excited to see what is in store.

What is your favorite part about working for M Street?

From the first day that I set foot in this building, M Street has felt like a family. The company has such a family feel about it, and being able to work here has been an absolute blessing. If you ask anyone who works at M Street, they will tell you how blessed they are to be a part of the team. I have never worked for a better company in my life.

One of the coolest parts about working for M Street is that anytime one of my colleagues is not having a great day, I have the ability to cheer them up. Whether it be a team member from Saint Anejo, Tavern, or Kayne Prime, we are all here for each other. They all come in to Whiskey Kitchen to enjoy themselves and we have the opportunity to make their day better. It is so important to me to make others happy.

What is your favorite Whiskey Kitchen dish?

The Buffalo Chicken Pizza. If I am not in the mood for that, I will do the shrimp and grits. There are so many great options, and I love them all to be honest.

What is your favorite Whiskey Kitchen drink?

Whiskey. I drink it straight. Nick Elliott introduced me to Willett Pot Still Reserve. I loved it so much that I actually named my dog after it. Willett is a Lab and Great Pyrenees mix. She is my pride and joy.

Have you always liked whiskey?

Ever since I was 21 it has always been whiskey. As a touring musician, that was my drink of choice.

What whiskey distillery do you want to visit?

Well, I have to go to Willett for obvious reasons. I also want to visit Maker’s Mark with my dad because that is his favorite bourbon. And of course, just to say I have done it, I would like to go to the Jack Daniel’s distillery. Plus, it is in the state of Tennessee so it is not that far for us.

What is your favorite Whiskey Kitchen memory?

One time, a group of people sat in my section for almost 5 hours. It was way past the time I was supposed to go home. We got to talking and I learned they were traveling from California. We ended up having a lot in common and really developed this great connection. It is so important to me to take care of people. Even if I want to go home, I always remember that I can help make someone's day when they come in.

What do you look forward to most when you come into work?

When I have the morning shift, I especially love chatting with the girls before we open. I always like to joke around and make everyone happy before the workday starts.

What do you like to do on your spare time?

I love the outdoors. I find peace and serenity there after a long day. I grew up enjoying outside activities like waterskiing and camping. I also love canoeing and hiking. I just bought a canoe and am always looking for new rivers and lakes to explore.

What is something someone might not know about you?

That I had 3 record deals when I used to sing country music.

Who inspired you?

There are two people. The first is my mom. She is my biggest supporter and mentor in life. If I could be half the woman that she is, I will have succeeded.

The second is Nick (Whiskey Kitchen’s General Manager). He has not only inspired me to be a good person, but to also be a hard worker dedicated to my work environment and crew. He knows that he is my mentor. I have thanked him at least a couple hundred times.

Aubrey’s passion for M Street inspires those around her. We are so grateful to have her hard-working and cheerful spirit gracing the team and the Nashville community at Whiskey Kitchen.

M Street Introductions: Alex Bailey

Some might recognize Alex as the smiling face that greets you when you first enter Virago. Her passion is evident as she escorts you to the table, preparing you for the exciting dining experience ahead.

Introducing Alex Bailey, Virago’s lead reservationist. For six and a half years, Alex has played an integral role in the M Street DNA. From enhancing the guest experience to creating lasting relationships with colleagues and guests alike, Alex serves as a role model for the entire M Street family.

Describe your journey with M Street.

When I was a senior in college, I was searching for something to occupy my time. I love to be busy, so I decided to look on Craigslist for job postings. There, I found an advertisement for a host position and applied without even knowing what restaurant it was. My interview went well, and the HR Director decided to place me at Virago, which was at the old location (Midtown Nashville) at the time.

I worked at Virago through my graduation. I also hosted at Whiskey Kitchen at the same time during lunch shifts. While I was at Virago, I became really close to the people I worked with. I felt like we were one big family and I developed a strong connection with Virago. When I graduated I was toying with the idea of leaving the restaurant for a temporary job. Virago was like my family. I had made such an investment in my coworkers and felt vested in the success of the restaurant; I just couldn’t leave.

One of the people I became close with at Virago was Jaime, who currently works as the lead reservationist at Saint Anejo. When she left Virago to move to Saint Anejo, the General Manager at the time knew I was ready for something different, so I took over the lead reservationist role at Virago. I have really developed the role into a managerial position which has helped me gain great leadership skills over the years.

 Virago's old location in Midtown Nashville.

Virago's old location in Midtown Nashville.

What is your favorite part about working at M Street?

Definitely the culture. I take my job and everything that we have to offerseriously and professionally, and our leaders have helped to create that. I love being a part of something where we receive so much support from our leaders. They have given me countless opportunities and have always believed in me.

What gets me excited in the morning is knowing that I get to do something I truly enjoy. The most rewarding thing about my job is that I can go above and beyond more than a typical host does. I have made lasting relationships and friends with not only my colleagues but also the guests who dine with us.

Who are some of your mentors?

I have a few. First is Oleg (Virago’s Assistant General Manager). He started a couple of months after I did, so we’ve been along the same journey together. He has been a constant for me and is always such a great resource for how to handle situations because of his extraordinary experience. He’s really taken me under his wing since the beginning.

Another mentor is Eric Martino (our Director of Operations). He has helped create an amazing culture for our company and develop this company into what it is today.

Jamie and Erin (our Director of Strategy & Projects and the Director of Human Resources, respectively) have been a great addition to the M Street team. They have brought so much to the table and are great female resources.

Lastly, I would say Andrew (Virago’s Executive Chef). We start the day at Virago early in the morning and have developed an awesome relationship. We mesh really well together and can always find something to chat about. I always enjoy learning about food from him and watching his creative mind come up with exciting new dishes for the Virago menu.

 Alex and Oleg.

Alex and Oleg.

What is your favorite Virago memory?

Wow, there are so many. Recently, one of my hosts came up to me to tell me that a pair of guests she was seating had just left another restaurant because it was their anniversary and were having a terrible experience. I let the Sean (Virago’s manager) know, and we ended up taking care of their whole dinner and giving them an unforgettable experience. The woman left crying and was so thankful for our hospitality. The situation showed me how teamwork helps us achieve our ultimate goal which is to give our guests a great experience and a memory they’ll always remember.

What is your favorite menu item?

That is the hardest question ever! There are so man amazing options. Our menu is so diverse, too. If you don’t want sushi, you can have steak, chicken, brussel sprouts, or evenpop rocks.

My favorite sushi roll is the Tanto just because I love everything about it. It has salmon, tuna, and lobster in it, how can you get better than that? I love the sake steamed brussels. When we first added them to our menu I absolutely had to learn how to make them. They go well with so many dishes and I'm constantly craving them.

 The tanto roll.

The tanto roll.

What’s your favorite Virago drink?

The Watermelon Mojito. There’s nothing like sitting on the patio enjoying the beautiful view on a warm summer day with a cool drink like the Watermelon Mojito.

I’ve also learned so much about sake working here. I love priding ourselves in saying that we have the biggest sake selection in the southeast. Oleg has done such a great job of creating sake tastings and classes.

 The Watermelon Mojito.

The Watermelon Mojito.

 What are your outside hobbies?

I love to cook. I’ve definitely been inspired by our restaurants. My appreciation for food has stemmed from being a part of M Street. I like to be innovative with my recipes and try different things. I also love listening to  all types of music. My favorite band is Moon Taxi (her husband is the keys player!)

Alex's dedication to the M Street family is truly remarkable. Her spirit and thirst for knowledge is ever-growing and we cannot wait to watch her develop along her path with M Street.

M Street Introductions: Madeline Williams

Meet Madeline Williams, the fearless leader and face behind Tavern. As a veteran of M Street’s Lime, Citizen, Virago, and Kayne Prime, Madeline has left a lasting mark on the M Street family. Her dedication to Tavern and the entire M Street team is both impressive and admirable. This past week, we sat down with her to hear about her journey with M Street. We are so excited to share her story with you.

Describe your journey with M Street.

I moved to Tennessee in 2011. A couple of days after moving here, I responded to a Craigslist ad for Lime (M Street’s first concept) and got hired. I served at Lime for 8 months. When Lime closed down, I got asked to open Citizen and was a server there for about a year, during which time I was also working at Virago. When they were talking about opening Tavern, M Street asked me to be one of the first Managers. I had the opportunity to open the concept as an Assistant General Manager (AGM). While I was an AGM at Tavern, I continued to serve at Virago as well as Kayne Prime. I was managing at Tavern all day, was serving at Kayne Prime or Virago at night, and sometimes would even serve atCitizen after that. When the General Manager left Tavern, I was accepted the role to lead the concept.

What did Midtown look like when Tavern first opened?

Midtown was definitely an interesting area at that time. There were a lot of local bars that had been around for a long time, but I think that Tavern really fit into the overall puzzle. One thing that Midtown was missing was a destination for delicious food. When we entered the neighborhood, I felt as though we completed the puzzle to make Midtown a well-rounded hot-spot. You could start your night with dinner and crafty cocktails at Tavern and finish at Broadway Brewhouse or the many other nearby watering holes.

What is your favorite dish on the Tavern menu?

Oh that is a tough one. I think I would have to say the Meat Pie, simply amazing. ...And I’m going to do one from the brunch menu too, the Kaya Toast. Those are my jams.

 The Kaya Toast.

The Kaya Toast.

What is your favorite meal time at Tavern?

I really enjoy brunch, especially the fast-paced nature of it. Brunch at Tavern is incredibly busy and now that we have a brunch DJ, it has added a lot of additional energy to the atmosphere. People of all ages are coming in, drinking 2-for-1s (if they're over 21 of course), and just spending the day with us. There are so many personalities and it is just a really good time.

 Brunch time at Tavern.

Brunch time at Tavern.

Tell us a little about the opening of Tavern brunch.

Well…Tavern was open for about a year and a half when we first decided to try brunch. Since then, I have always worked brunch. I’m a firm believer in ambassadorship. When a guest sees a familiar face in the building, they look for that and very much like that. People appreciate that I am at Tavern, and I appreciate seeing them week after week.

What is your favorite part about M Street?

I would have to say the culture and the people–not only the staff, but also the guests. I have definitely made a lot of lasting relationships with guests along my journey. One really awesome thing that I have enjoyed is some of the people that I used to take care of at Kayne Prime or Citizen now come visit me at Tavern. They often reminisce about the ways I would take good care of them in the other restaurants. I am all about hospitality. I live my life like that and love to be a part of that day-to-day.

Who are your mentors at M Street?

I have a few of them. Back in the day I would definitely say Emily and Robbie (previous Events and Culinary employees at M Street). They helped me grow and learn new things. I was a brand new manager, and they were a big part in guiding me and showing me the ropes of management.

I definitely think that Chris is also one of my mentors. I really respect his presence and how he puts his concepts together.

And also, newly, Jamie (our Director of Strategy and New Projects). I really like her vibe and her presence. She always emits such a great feeling.

Lastly, the opening chef at Tavern, Ray Whitlock. I formed a really awesome relationship with him and was actually the best man at his wedding! He taught me a lot about food and pairings and how to run a kitchen.

Tell us a little bit about the beer program you are developing at Tavern.

Right now we are working on creating a beer program, like a "Beer 101". Tavern is primarily known for our craft beers, so we have been getting a lot of local breweries on board. Recently we went on the Yazoo Brewery Tour. Next, I would love to take my staff to places like Black Abbey and Corsair.

What’s your favorite beer?

I really enjoy sours and saisons.

 Madeline with a Blackberry Farm Saison.

Madeline with a Blackberry Farm Saison.

What are some of your outside hobbies?

I love to be outside. This is weird but I love to cut my grass! Anytime I can cut the grass I am super excited about it. I also love being on the water whether it be a pool or a lake. My fiancé and I buy old furniture and refurbish it for our new house, which I really enjoy.

As an original pioneer of the true M Street spirit, Madeline has become an integral part of the M Street family. She continually sets the bar for guest experiences and is always yearning to make Tavern, her staff, and herself the best they can possibly be. We are so thankful to have Madeline as a part of our team. It has been truly inspiring to watch both her and her career grow throughout her years at M Street.