In just two short years, Nashville’s The Catbird Seat has quickly become one of the nation’s most beloved restaurants. A semi-circle chefs table is the only seating available– making it one of the hardest reservations in the country. Owners Benjamin and Max Goldberg have tapped Noma alum Trevor Moran for his refreshing take on the culinary scene. I had the lovely opportunity to chat with Trevor about his new position and big move to Nashville.
1. How will you bring your Irish roots and Nordic influence to your new executive chef position at The Catbird Seat?
I’m going to try and not think about it as much as possible. What influences you should come through naturally I guess, so it won’t be a conscious decision. What we are trying to do is find cool products and trying to make them fun to eat and delicious. Some long-term projects are in the works, like playing with vinegars for springtime, but we are also concentrating on having totally stripped down seasonal products on the menu. Our favorite dish right now is whole Turbot roasted on the bone over hot coals, finished with a hickory dashi.
2. Being the sous chef at Noma must have taught you a lot about The New Nordic Manifesto and foraging locally. What ingredients are you most excited to work with in the Nashville area?
It’s a little cold to go foraging right now to be honest, but when the weather warms we will talk to some pros and see what grows down south. I can see the team taking a drive to the Appalachians once a week and getting lots of cool things. We are actually going to hire an extra chef so when one gets mauled by a bear, it’s not such a big thing. I’m still excited about using wild products. They can be so delicious, and they are free. Just coming to the states has me very excited. The range of products is vast here, and the quality is extremely high. I have already met some very caring, special farmers. Our friend Karen raises ducks for us; they are incredible. It is a slow process, but totally worth it. We just started getting crazy good beef rib from another hero, LeAnne. It’s hard to not be excited when the people who supply you are so enthusiastic.
3. If leaving Dublin to work at Noma was inspired by a world food trip you took, what was the driving force to leave Noma and start anew at The Catbird Seat?
I wanted to experience something very different. I love Copenhagen. I wish I was not so far away actually, but its great being in the south. Nashville is a great town. Awesome people, music, food, and weather. You can wear cowboy boots and no-one looks twice.
4. Benjamin Goldberg said, “Since we opened The Catbird Seat two years ago, our vision was to be a place where young chefs can express their creativity with no culinary boundaries.” How do you plan on breaking these culinary boundaries and continuing The Catbird Seat legacy?
There are no boundaries to break. It is such a simple set up. 32 people come to eat a night, and we feed them 14-16 dishes that we think are cool, delicious or interesting.
Continuing The Catbird Seat legacy is another thing. That is a challenge, of course. It is a very successful restaurant, with a great record. Guests come with expectations and we feel the pressure because we all care very much. We are finding our own direction day by day. It has been 2 weeks, but I feel it happening. I think that is the best way. We’ll evolve into a new kitchen gently, one project at a time.
5. What are some of your favorite spots to eat/drink in Nashville when you are not commanding the kitchen– or where are you most excited to try?
There are literally too many places to list without a reader getting bored or lost. Great pasta, cheeseburgers, chicken, brunch, bbq, meat & three, pizza, karaoke and high life’s, it is all here, waiting to be abused.
The Catbird Seat