Between Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the famed choo-choo, Chattanooga is widely known for its attractions. Lately, the city’s culinary culture has begun drawing raves, too. “Chattanooga food is at a breakout moment,” says local chef and James Beard-semifinalist Erik Niel
Garden & Gun
Erik Niel is a product of New Orleans, a community that dances to its own beat in almost every facet of life, from its language to its appetite for fun and food.
Although he was born in Texas, he spent his formative years growing up in Mandeville, La., on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain near the Crescent City, soaking up the flavors of Cajun country. It's with this foundation that he embarked on a career as a chef, graduating with a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University in Vail, Colo.
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Cities like Atlanta and Charleston get all the glory, but Chattanooga in East Tennessee plays host to a bevy of can’t-miss culinary gems no traveler should overlook. The unpretentious Southern city offers plenty to do and see in between bites, like the Tennessee Aquarium and Songbirds Guitar Museum, but a city’s food is why we go, right? Hop aboard the Chattanooga train and visit these six swoon-worthy spots.
Last weekend was a whirlwind of small plates, big bites, boozy cocktails and lots of bubbly at the 12th annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival. Chefs brought their A-game to the culinary village and beyond as the festival continued its expansion into many nooks and crannies in the Lowcountry, from restaurant kitchens to creekside docks.
One James Beard Award nomination and two booming food destinations in Chattanooga prove that while Chef Erik Niel's voice is subdued, the Southern food he creates certainly is not. We sat down with the owner of Easy Bistro & Bar and Main Street Meats to talk about his Chattanooga ties, Cajun influence, and what he loves most about being a chef in the South.
A great restaurant with an equally awesome raw bar is a true gem. Chef Erik Niel knows this, which is one of the reasons his Chattanooga, Tennessee spot Easy Bistro & Bar is forever on our hit list. The New Orleans native grew up fishing on the bayou, so his menu is chock-full of dishes inspired by his hometown and features seafood from all three American coasts.
This is Spilling the Beans, where plugged-in baristas give us the lowdown on where to go, what to do, and what to eat (and drink) in their hometown.
Source: Bon Appetit
Easy Bistro & Bar has been open for 10 years this month, and the business and its owners have matured and evolved, co-owner and chef Erik Niel said.
Niel said he’s overcome challenges, grown into himself as a businessman and chef, and seen his dreams both change and come to fruition.