With international and cross-country training, a passion for farm-to-table cooking and local sourcing and a longtime desire to dive into the greater Nashville area’s thriving culinary scene, Chad Starling has joined the Homestead Manor team as executive chef of Harvest.
A Chattanooga native, Starling was raised to appreciate high-quality, fresh foods, growing up with gardens and a farm and utilizing chickens and whole hogs in the kitchen before the farm-to-table movement was a household term.
He moved to Key West in the year 2000 to hone his craft, landing a gig at the Wyndham Casa Marina resort before traveling to Thailand, where he immersed himself in the culture and developed a lifelong appreciation for southeast Asian cuisine.
“I brought a backpack and my knives and ate everything I could,” Starling said.
In 2005, Starling returned to the states and “staged,” or worked for free in order to learn, at The French Laundry in Napa for renowned Chef Thomas Keller. Deterred by the area’s high cost of living, he headed to the Wild Goose in Lake Tahoe where he flexed his passion for local sourcing with northern California produce and a daily tasting menu.
With his mind long set on Chicago, Starling made the move to stage under Laurent Gras at Tru before becoming chef de cuisine and then executive chef at Le Lan, an acclaimed concept built on French and southeast Asian influences. Unable to survive the declining economy, the restaurant closed and Starling packed his bags for Las Vegas, staging for a few weeks at several restaurants before returning to Chicago for a position at the Fairmont Hotel, where he spearheaded the development of a garden on the hotel’s rooftop which supplied much of the restaurant’s produce.
2011 brought another move, this time to Dallas, where he worked briefly at farm-to-table concept Bolsa before he was approached by Dallas Chop House. Given the opportunity to reformat the menu, Starling began working with local cattle and hog farmers, building a dry-age room at the restaurant that was soon named the “best meatery” in the area.
A stint at a historic hotel in the Estes Park area outside of Boulder propelled Starling to look seriously toward Nashville as a place to settle down. He took on the role of chef de cuisine at the Thompson Hotel’s Marsh House in the Gulch neighborhood, known for its robust seafood program.
Starling’s desire to have an onsite farm and to work closely with its farmers led him to Homestead Manor this summer, and he is excited about the opportunities ahead.
“Planting and cooking with your own product and having direct, personal relationships with the farmers is a dream,” Starling said. “Homestead Manor is what I always envisioned my own restaurant to be like if I ever had the chance to open one.”
Starling’s first task at the multi-layer, historic property right off of U.S. 31 in Thompson’s Station is to revamp its brunch and dinner menus, utilizing as much produce from the onsite farm as possible.
“Chad has come to Homestead at just the right time,” Claire Crowell, COO of A. Marshall Hospitality, said. “In addition to the Homestead at Home program, we have renewed our focus in our farm and greenhouse and are confident in Chad’s ability and drive to utilize these resources that are literally in our own backyard to further develop the Homestead Manor concept as a whole.”
Guests can expect tomatoes, corn, peaches and summer squash from the late summer harvest to be incorporated into the new menus along with early autumnal elements and local chicken, pork, beef and seafood. Though he’s not reimagining the Southern-inspired Harvest concept altogether, Starling has hinted that his beloved Asian influences may appear here and there.
He is also creating a separate menu that will be served in Homestead Manor’s popular glass bar, promising a burger, oyster po’boy and other takes on bar fare favorites, and will again rely on the farm’s weekly harvest to dictate the weekly Homestead at Home menu.
Harvest at Homestead Manor is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; on Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; on Saturday from 10 a.m. from 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. To learn more, visit www.homesteadmanor.com.