Deacon’s New South has a new executive chef in Chad Starling, who brings an extensive background in whole-animal butchery, farming and farm-to-table cuisine with a global influence to the downtown Nashville concept that recently released its new winter menus.
The unconventional Southern steakhouse — focused on prime cuts of beef and other proteins dry-aged in-house alongside robust side dishes utilizing seasonal produce — complements Starling’s cross-country culinary experience that includes The French Laundry (Napa), Tru and Le Lan (Chicago) and Dallas Chop House, dubbed the “best meatery” in the area under Starling’s leadership.
“Southern food is part of my upbringing,” Starling, a Chattanooga, Tenn. native, said. “Having a farm and gardens, I learned the importance of quality, fresh food from an early age and grew that passion into a career.”
Before “farm to table” was a trend, Starling was learning skills like whole-hog butchery and menu composition based on seasonal ingredients at St. John’s Restaurant in his hometown. He spent time in Key West and Southeast Asia continuing to hone his craft before returning to the U.S., heading west for Napa and Lake Tahoe, then deciding to follow his dream of joining Chicago’s thriving culinary scene.
He landed an opportunity to train under acclaimed chef Laurent Gras at Tru before becoming chef de cuisine and then executive chef at French-Southeast Asian concept Le Lan from 2007 until 2009 when the poor economy forced the restaurant to shutter. Following a brief stint in Las Vegas, Starling returned to Chicago and became executive chef at Aria in the Fairmont Hotel, where he planted more than 200 seeds on the rooftop and cultivated a garden that began to supply the restaurant.
Another move brought another opportunity for creativity, and Starling came on at Dallas farm-to-table restaurant Bolsa and then Dallas Chop House, where he built a dry-aging room and shaped the menu around stock from local cattle, Wagyu and hog farmers.
Most recently, Starling served as chef de cuisine at Nashville’s Marsh House in the Thompson Hotel and as executive chef of Homestead Manor, A. Marshall Hospitality’s multilayer, farm-to-fork concept in Thompson’s Station.
“We are fortunate to have connected with Chad and felt an enormous impact from his talents at Homestead Manor in a short amount of time,” Claire Crowell, COO of A. Marshall Hospitality, said. “The opportunities are endless at Deacon’s and we’re excited to see the concept blossom under his leadership.”
Deacon’s winter menu, penned by Starling and his team, launched last week, featuring innovative entrées — like bobwhite quail with red peas, rice grits and red pea gravy, and trout source from Bucksnort, Tenn. with white beans, lacinato kale, smoked ham hock broth and preserved lemon gremolata — that incorporate the restaurant’s signature Southern lean. Dry-aged beef remains at the center of the menu, with 48 oz. Titan cut porterhouse and tomahawk ribeyes as guest favorites, recommended to ambitious diners as “shareable or not” by Deacon’s staff. The restaurant is also planning several food and beverage tasting events, giving Starling opportunities to flex his creativity.
To learn more about Deacon’s New South and to view its winter brunch, lunch and dinner menus, go to www.deaconsnewsouth.com.