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Chef Brock in the Audrey open kitchen. photo: Emily Dorio

Featured Article

Gastronomic Magic at Sean Brock's Audrey

Food science takes this menu next level in Nashville

Chef Sean Brock has packed many lives worth of experience into his 44 years. He is a multiple James Beard award winner, two times New York Times best-selling cookbook author, a host of one television show (season two of Mind of a Chef, produced by Anthony Bourdain), and subject of another (Netflix’s Chef’s Table).

After decades of non-stop cheffing, Sean pumped the brakes to give himself some time and space to breathe. That place of zen manifested in the form of his flagship restaurant Audrey in East Nashville. Though he currently resides in Nashville, he has strong ties to Atlanta with his restaurant Minero, which opened in Ponce City Market in 2015. So, if you’ve tried Minero’s house ground corn tortilla tacos and thought, “I wonder what else Chef Brock is cooking up?” You could have your answer in just under 4 hours, when you could be in Nashville dining on Audrey’s Pokeweed & Bear Creek Beef “welcome snack”, with Greasy Beans, Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Jimmy Red Corn for your main course.

Sean’s passions and influences reflect in the dishes on Audrey’s menu: growing up in the rural South, Appalachian cuisine, a love of Japanese culture, and the traditions impressed on him by his grandmother, who is also the restaurant’s namesake. The restaurant works with organic, biodynamic, and sustainable producers to provide all food and beverage. The unique, seasonal ingredients make for an exciting culinary adventure.

Audrey is more than just a restaurant. It is the setting for Sean Brock’s food chemistry lab… literally. Behind a wall of windows, a state-of-the-art, food-focused research and development lab is chock full of equipment that does incredible things to bring out the most bombastic flavors in food. To be able to meet Chef Brock in this environment is to see him in completely in his element: surrounded by dehydrators, liquefiers, extractors, and food experiments in different stages of completion. It’s an absolute thrill. When he talks about the processes he employs to get to a particular food-state, you can’t help but feel just as excited as he is.

Audrey’s Bar concept is a Southern-style cocktail omakase where “The point is the produce,” says bar director Jon Howard. The staff concocts five new drinks each night, utilizing fresh, seasonal produce that is sourced locally that morning. With a focus on ingredients first, spirits second, each has just three components and is made by hand without the use of any modern machinery. The cocktail menu changes every day based on what the team finds at the market. A trio of cocktails could include: Oloroso Sherry, freeze dried lemon verbena and citrus; Oro Blanco (a relative of the grapefruit), gin and tomato sweetener; or carrot, scotch and Rex Union Curaçao - all mind-blowingly cool in presentation with flavors like nothing else you’ve sipped.

Life in a commercial kitchen is not easy. Days and nights are long. Stress is high. Sean places a huge importance on education, personal development and wellbeing. Employees have the use of dedicated classroom and research spaces filled with his book collection, mentorship programs, a podcast recording studio, an on-site wellness room and more all within the Audrey compound.

Sean says, “Audrey is the restaurant I want to retire in, I plan to take a minimalistic approach to exploring the future of Southern food and working towards creating a healthier workspace.”

  • Bar director Jon Howard concentrating on our first cocktail pour. photo: Stacy Conde
  • Chef Sean Brock talks us through experiments in the lab. photo: Stacy Conde
  • A dish at Audrey. photo: Emily Dorio
  • The research & development lab. photo: Emily Dorio
  • The Bar at Audrey. photo: Emily Dorio
  • Chef Brock in the Audrey open kitchen. photo: Emily Dorio