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VOL. 38 | NO. 31 | Friday, August 1, 2014

Former Loveless chef Jesse Goldstein finds new recipe

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Jesse Goldstein, who founded Food Sheriff Consumable Branding and was formerly chef and brand manager for Loveless Cafe, is hoping his new concept, 3rst of the Month, will gain traction.

-- Photo Courtesy Of Anthony Scarlatti

As the food scene grows in Nashville, so do the businesses that support it. Jesse Goldstein, a chef and former brand manager at the iconic Loveless Cafe, started his own company, Food Sheriff Consumable Branding (food-sheriff.com), in January.

With his experience in the kitchen and sharp marketing mind, he’s a quick-moving, hard-working guy on the go. But as a man of balance, with an eye on R&D, he also manages to carve out time for a bite, lots of laughs and a cocktail or two.

Q: Where did you get the name Food Sheriff?

A: “I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina with two older brothers. Being the baby of the group, I was often fighting for my fair portion come suppertime.

“If there were 5 pieces of chicken to share, I was the one who would make sure that we divided them into three equal portions, which prompted them to call me the Food Sheriff ... and the name just stuck.’’

Q: How did your career lead you to this new business?

A: “It’s been an amazing journey that actually started long before I ever started cooking. My folks met in art school, and I grew up in a community full of talented artists, so I was lucky to have an environment that nurtured creativity in almost every form.

“After years working as a chef, I evolved into the management side of things, but always kept a hand in the marketing and branding side of things.

“When the Loveless Cafe renovation was underway, I had hired a graphic designer to create a simple newspaper ad. It was $450 and nothing like I had asked for, so I bought the design program, taught myself how to use it and just stared doing graphics myself.

“One thing led to another, and I ended up moving out of operational responsibilities and into branding and marketing. My stint as the brand manager at the Loveless Cafe was undoubtedly the finishing touch that gave me valuable elements of experience with the value of brand identity, social media, digital marketing and brand content.’’

Q: As a trained chef, do you still cook? If so, what have you been making in the kitchen lately?

A: “Of course! When I’m not developing and testing recipes for clients, I’m cooking simply. This time of year is always my favorite, as my garden is overflowing with heirloom tomatoes. There’s really nothing better than simple fresh food – especially when you don’t even have to ‘cook’ it!

“My poor Instagram (@food_sheriff) friends are probably sick of seeing my #tomatoporn shots, but summer will end eventually and so will my tomato photos.’’

Q: Will you tell us a couple highlights or anecdotes from your time at the Loveless Cafe?

A: “The Loveless will always be special to me. When living in Charleston, we had a saying that the best business is more than a business, it’s a cherished community asset.

“You may never get there, but you work to become a place [where] people mark moments in their life.

“To me, the Loveless was the exact definition of a cherished community asset. Seeing a widower come in every year on his anniversary to dine alone at his wife’s favorite table or a family spending every Easter with us for 50 years (and counting) has a way of putting things into perspective.

“But the real turning point for me was when I reluctantly started to embrace social media and email marketing. I had thought, “why would a 50-year-old cafe tweet?” … when I searched our name and saw an entire conversation happening about us without us.

“We started slowly with social and email marketing, working to make sure that we never underestimated the trust our audience gave us. When they signed up for our email, they did it because the Loveless was special to them, so our messages had to be crafted to share stories, news, recipes and contests from a place of authenticity.

“Finally, I would tell anyone with a ‘brick and mortar’ business to not only start using Instagram, but to check their geotags. Look to see who’s posting images from your business and engage them.’’

Q: The Nashville restaurant scene has been growing by leaps and bounds. What do you make of it? Any new favorite dishes at some of the new spots?

A: “It’s really crazy to see what’s happened in the food scene. I remember when I first came to Nashville from Charleston in 1998 asking where all the good restaurants were. I didn’t know that Mac n’ Cheese was in the “vegetable” category until I came here!

“As the food scene has grown, I love that the attitude of it has still remained very casual. You can still go pretty much anywhere in this town in jeans and T-shirt.

“When I go out, I love variety, but also simplicity. City House will always be one of my favorites for this - I rarely even order an entree, opting instead to sample from the starters (and save room for dessert).

“I’ve enjoyed my experiences at Adele’s (get the raw zucchini salad), and Etch (their cauliflower starter and incredible desserts will make you put back things you stole as a child). Other favorites are Epice, Thai Esane and Patrick’s Bistreaux – all of which take care in preparation, yet still keep things simple.’’

Q: You’ve also created a new cocktail club called 3rst of the Month that has its first meeting this Sunday. Tell us about 3st, and how you decided to create this event?

A: “3st (“thirst”) of the Month is an idea I’ve had for years. I had been enjoying a monthly supper club that Neil McCormick from Yazoo was hosting. We were having as much fun with the drinks each month as we were with the food, which prompted me to wonder about creating a monthly cocktail club.

“I bought the domain in 2011 and sat on it for years before mentioning the idea to Jacob Jones with Mountain. He emailed me the next morning that he was still thinking about the concept, so we met and partnered to bring it to life.

“We wanted to create an event and community that brought people together over a common theme: Booze. So often these days you only interact with friends on social media, so the chance to hang out in person almost seems new again.

“The only way to attend is to be invited into free membership. We’ve started with a group of invited guests, who will in turn invite others, and the list will grow from there.

“Each month will be a different theme, in a different location, with different brands. But one thing will always be the same – the date. Regardless of the day of the week, the event will be on the 3rd – or 3st – of the month.

“We keep the conversation going all month long on our website (3stofthemonth.com), through Instagram and Twitter (@3stofthemonth), and with informative emails of recipes and tidbits. It’s hard to believe that after all this time, it’s finally happening.’’

Q: I hear you’ll be involved in the 3 Crow Tomato Fest Bloody Mary contest this year? What do you love about that event, and what makes food contests kind of tough? Any advice for contestants?

A: “I remember when this event was still in the early years and seeing how the community has embraced it is a beautiful thing. The 3 Crow Tomato Fest Bloody Mary Contest shares the challenges of many, but with the added element of booze.

“I think people get a little out of their body when competing in these [contests], when a good bloody mary is really a pretty simple thing.

“Last year someone made a green tomato version, which sounded like a good idea, until they added buttermilk and clarified butter to the ice-cold concoction. The buttermilk curdled and the butter immediately hardened into little fat globules. Needless to say, this was a total failure.

“If I could suggest anything to the contestants, I would say skip the garnishes of fried green tomatoes or strips of bacon and go for the classic celery stand-by. Keep it simple.’’

*In the food business, being “in the weeds” means being super busy. And that’s also how we would describe Nashville’s booming restaurant scene. In this column, Jennifer Justus, journalist, author and food culture writer, keeps us up to date on food, dining out and trends with bi-weekly reports from the table.

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