For 21/2 years before coming to Charleston, Sean Brock honed his culinary skills as executive chef at the elegant Hermitage Hotel in Nashville.
Next spring, the award-winning chef at the nation’s No. 1 new restaurant in 2011, Husk in downtown Charleston, will return to his old stomping grounds in the country music mecca to set the table for another version of the critically acclaimed fine-dining establishment.
Neighborhood Dining Group, which manages Husk and other restaurants, will open Husk Nashville by March in an 1895-era historic house in the heart of Tennessee’s capital city.
“We feel it’s very natural to be in Nashville with the Husk brand and everything it represents,” said David Howard, president of the Neighborhood Dining Group, which also operates McCrady’s and Queen Anne’s Revenge in Charleston and Chicago’s Steak and Seafood in Roswell, Ga.
“There are a lot of young guys doing some great things there, and we feel like it’s about to take off,” Howard said of the Nashville restaurant scene.
The Neighborhood Dining Group looked for the better part of this year to find “the right site in the right city with the right atmosphere,” Howard said.
The location selected is on the National Register of Historic Homes.
“You just can’t open a Husk in a shopping mall or a new build-out,” Brock said. “It needs something with some history and creaky floors. It has to feel a certain way. We knew (the site) was right the minute we walked in. It is just a perfect fit for us.”
Howard pointed out that the restaurant group is not trying to duplicate what Husk has accomplished in acclaim in less than two years with its farm-to-table concept of all-South ingredients.
“I am under no illusion that we can go to another city and have the same success. We are looking to expand what we do and what Husk represents,” Howard said. “It will be a little different because the ingredients will be a little different, but it will have the same standard of hospitality, the same high-quality cuisine and the same super-friendly staff and professional service at Husk (in Charleston).”
The restaurant’s second incarnation comes one year after Bon Appetit magazine named Husk the No. 1 “Best New Restaurant in America,” less than 12 months after it opened.
Brock, who heads the kitchen at Husk, also holds the title of Best Chef Southeast in the 2010 James Beard awards for his cooking skills at McCrady’s.
He’s looking forward to spending time in a city he knows and loves, where he can kick back with a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon and listen to country music.
“There are so many guys there doing such great food and many of them are my best friends,” Brock said. “It’s sort of like a homecoming for me.”
Brock, who is a chef and partner in Husk, McCrady’s and Husk Nashville, will help set up the new restaurant, but he plans to keep his home in Charleston.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.