Chef Beringson embraces Southern-French cuisine at Henley
Over the past 12 years, chef Kristin Beringson has honed her craft at a number of fine restaurants in Nashville, some of which include City Winery, Silo, The Green Pheasant, and Ellington’s inside The Fairlane. Earlier this spring, she accepted the position of executive chef at Henley, the Modern American brasserie with Southern/seasonal influences, connected to the Midtown Aertson hotel. The 2014 Champion of “Chopped,” Beringson is no stranger to stretching herself and taking on new challenges.
Tell us about your culinary journey.
- 1 Tell us about your culinary journey.
- 2 Who were your mentors?
- 3 Tell us about getting on “Chopped.”
- 4 What is your go-to ingredient?
- 5 What are you excited for us to try at Henley?
- 6 Any lessons from the pandemic that you’d like to share?
- 7 Looking ahead, what is your vision for yourself as a chef?
- 8 Henley
Oddly, I came to it in my late 20s. I had gotten my degree in fashion merchandising from Philadelphia University. I had taken a job opening Targets around the country, and I had relocated to Nashville. The job was not satisfying, at all. After work, I’d find myself either watching Food Network or preparing meals for friends. I came to realize that food was my love language. After much soul-searching, I quit my job and enrolled in the culinary program at the Art Institute.
Who were your mentors?
While I was in school, I got a lot of hands-on experience at several restaurants around town—Miel, Table 3, Sunset Grille. But where it really all happened for me was at Holland House. Terrell Raley gave me the freedom to cook what I wanted. There were no boundaries. I also have to mention chef Ashley Quick, who was at Flyte. I admired his creativity. His cooking was inspirational.
Tell us about getting on “Chopped.”
I was at Holland House at the time, and got a voicemail that they were casting for “Chopped,” and recruiting females. I dismissed it, but my friends kept urging, “Do it.” I applied, interviewed and was accepted. It was a great experience. This is real time cooking on a home stove—hot and crazy. You put in about a 17-hour day. What a challenge!
What is your go-to ingredient?
Honey. It has magical properties. I use it instead of sugar, because it adds more dimension to a dish. It’s great in sauces, in braising. There are also so many different flavor profiles, depending on where the honey comes from. So many possibilities. I was born in Greece, a culture that embraces honey in its cuisine. I like to think that my love of honey stems from that.
What are you excited for us to try at Henley?
Everything! It’s been great to breathe new life into Henley’s menu, especially after the sad and drab COVID time that we’ve all been through. That said, with Henley being a Southern-inspired brasserie, my Country Fried Brie is the perfect expression of that French-South marriage. I’m also proud of the Summer Corn Chowder. It is seasoned with vadouvan (a French curry spice blend) and has some other unexpected elements—smoked bone marrow and pickled Fresno chiles. The Chicken Fried Quail, which has a sunflower seed breading, is delicious. I serve it with onion marmalade and herbed polenta.
I’m also excited to reintroduce The Rabbit Hole. It’s such an intimate setting, giving my staff and me the chance to interact directly with the guests. It’s so much fun to design its tasting menu, and each one is a different experience.
For one, I was grateful to work the entire time. I discovered how adaptable we all are. Hotels were so hard hit. During the leanest of times, (at The Fairlane) I wore many hats, stepping in as beverage director and learned about front of the house.
COVID caused big disruption in the supply chain, which we are still feeling. It makes me especially grateful to our local farmers. We rely on them.
Looking ahead, what is your vision for yourself as a chef?
The biggest focus for me right now is developing the people around me. The key to rising up as chef is to mentor and enable those you work with to rise as well. I would also like to have a greater impact on our food community, outside of my day-to-day.
And, as a mom to two young boys, I want to teach them about what I do, and instill a love of the ingredients and the process.
2021 Broadway, Nashville TN 37203 615-340-6378 henleynashville.com
Hours: Dinner: 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Brunch: 7a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Breakfast: 7-10 a.m. Monday-Friday. Happy Hour: 4-6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday
Alcohol: Full bar
Food: Modern American