Last week I told you about Hall on the Yard, the new food market in Ivanhoe Village, and how it’s different from a typical food court because it has full table service and restaurant quality vendors.
One of those restaurants that is helping to make it special is Chef & I, from Nashville, which joins SJO this month as a sponsor.
Chef & I is owned by Chris and Erica Rains – he’s the Chef and she’s the I. C&I is only one of two of the restaurants in the complex with a food counter at its open kitchen. (The plant-based eatery Humbl is the other.)
As Chris Rains explains in the video below, Chef & I intends to take full advantage of the food counter and accentuate the ability of the diners to communicate directly with the chefs cooking in front of them. People sitting at Chef & I’s (Chef & My?) counter can technically order from any of the restaurants in the hall, but Rains said it’s his goal to make them want to order from him.
One of the way’s he’s doing that is with a tasting menu that features a number of items he’s known for at his Nashville restaurant. It might be a raw Hawaiian walu, served with Peruvian peppers.
Or roasted caramelized cauliflower with local goat cheese and honey.
Or bourbon bacon jam with an aged gorgonzola cheese and red wine reconstituted cranberries and almonds.
The tasting menu is available only with advance reservations that specifically request that menu. (You can call 321-328-5521, which is the chef’s own cell phone, and he’ll call you back as soon as he’s out of the kitchen.)
But even without reservations for the tasting menu experience, there are plenty of good things to find on the daily menu. Such as Duck & Waffles, Marinated Scottish Salmon, Jumbo Seal Scallops, and Salt Hot Chicken.
When Rains is in Nashville, he has Michael Morrison as his chef de cuisine in Orlando. Morrison was previously head chef at Loretta Keller’s Coco 500 and executive chef at Hiro Sone’s Michelin-starred Ame, both in the San Francisco Bay area.
Erica Rains will tell you that Chef & I is a love story – theirs. They met 14 years ago in Nashville and started their culinary business shortly after. “We always tell people ‘All you need is love,’” she said.
Some of that walu with Peruvian peppers is nice, too.