Inside Taylor’s, Nashville’s dinner party-style restaurant champions first-generation American cuisine.

Nashville, also known as Music City, is full of storytellers Tailor, an award-winning South Asian American dinner-style restaurant in Germantown, chef Vivek Surti tells his story through food. Dinner reservations at Taylor’s are all the plans you need for the night. Simply show up, order a cocktail (or two or three), and the tailor team will show up to your seat and serve up delicious plates of food throughout the night.

“We grew up here in Nashville; My grandparents lived with us, so we were always surrounded by Gujarati cooking at home,” says Surti. Dinner parties at her parents’ friends’ houses were a big part of her childhood. „Every time we go to certain aunties’ houses, we know we’re going to get some food, because they always make food that comes from their area.” For Taylor, he was trying to create an exciting night out experience, like coming into someone’s home. To this end, the bar/reception area is decorated with a crystal chandelier from Surti’s childhood home. The chandelier is a nod to the chef’s long run of pop-up dinners that first took place at his parents’ house—the early beginnings of his eventual career as a tailor.

The 5-course menu at Taylor’s changes every season. Currently, the group offers a summer menu where the dishes are inspired by Surti’s favorite summer memories and traditions. One thing that’s always on the menu is makai no sevto (corn, Surti’s favorite summer vegetable), grilled chicken (a green chile marinade that’s Surti’s family’s backyard barbecue staple) and pinta nu chak and rotli (a traditional Gujarati flatbread that’s part of the daily meal). ? Dad’s Sai mentions that it took Surti 10 years to perfect a recipe. Masala chai (fresh ginger, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, green cardamom, mace, star anise and coriander) is always served at the end of the meal with naankathi (short biscuits).

At the beginning of each course, Surti takes the time to go through each dish and share the stories behind them. „When I go to restaurants where I think the food is good, I always want to know how they got there,” he says. „I think that atmosphere makes the food more memorable.” He compares it to Nashville songwriter nights, where you can hear the stories behind popular songs, and the song makes more sense once you understand that context. “Why can’t we do it in food? So often chefs spend a month or even years researching a dish, and without context, it’s a delicious dish.

The guest experience, of course, is top of mind, and Surti notes that her team always wants people to leave happier than when they arrived. But the vision for the tailor is much more than that. Surti sees Taylor as part of this first-generation American culinary movement, where food „incorporates unique and authentic dishes from a region and is served without sacrificing ingredients and preparation (and therefore culture),” explains Surti. „The goals are to stop generalizing international cuisines and instead start a conversation about other cultures’ cuisines and make connections through commonalities. We’re more alike than we are different, and even though we do Indian food, home cooking feels like home no matter what home you come from. At Taylor’s, There’s no denying spice levels or flavors, and Surti doesn’t shy away from ingredients and dishes from other food cultures she’s learned about through her travels because they’re part of her culinary story.

Surti defines the first-generation American cuisine served at Taylor’s as „the food we grew up with in the place we call home.” The importance of showcasing the food he grew up with and making it as his parents did has never been lost on him. „We as first-generation Americans are charged with carrying on and recording the traditions of our families, because if we don’t learn them, that food culture is lost in a generation,” he says. Surti notes that people from his culture sometimes questioned what he considered everyday dishes on the menu of an upscale restaurant like Tailor. „Home-cooked food isn’t always considered as special as what they serve in a restaurant, whereas I think there’s beauty in everyday food,” she says.

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