2016 Featured Chefs


Trey Cioccia - The Farm House

A native to Mount Juliet, Tenn., Trey Cioccia has dreamed of opening a restaurant since his days as a young boy. Surrounded by people who had a resilient passion for organic farming, Cioccia was strongly influenced by his grandfather, who was devoted to maintaining the family’s 100-acre farm in Hohenwald, Tenn. and a chemical-free, produce garden in Old Hickory, Tenn., where Trey is currently producing for his restaurant, The Farm House, today.

After finishing culinary school with a dual degree in culinary arts and hotel and restaurant management, he launched his career by serving under Tyler Brown at The Hermitage Hotel’s Capitol Grille, which was named Best Restaurant in Nashville. Cioccia worked as sous chef for the Capitol Grille before later moving on to work as the executive chef at Cantina Laredo, where his long-time friend, Bobby Compton, joined him in the kitchen. “I knew I wanted Bobby by my side when I opened the restaurant,” said Cioccia. “He sees the vision that I see for this restaurant.”

Currently following his dream and staying true to his family’s roots, Cioccia is teaming up with Bobby to open The Farm House in Nashville, Tenn., where he has developed a menu that will outsource 21 farms containing Tennessee’s freshest products and a few more from the surrounding provinces.

Debbie Sutton - 8 Lavender Lane Catering

Chef Debbie Sutton has 30 plus years of cooking and restaurant management experience. Growing up in New York, she had the opportunity to experience a melting pot of cuisines. Food always played an important roll in her upbringing from having a father that has a passion for cooking, one Grandmother that is a self taught baker, another Grandmother from France that was a wonderful cook, and a Mother that embraced and shared her German heritage through family favorite recipes.

Debbie started her culinary career in the fast food circuit, quickly moving into a variety of management positions. In 1999 wanting to offer more, she and her Father chose to open their own café’ and catering business in White House, TN. Since then she has obtained a B.S. in Culinary Arts Management, is a Certified Executive Chef through The American Culinary Federation, and holds a Professional Training SAS Certificate through Provincia di Terni, Regione dell’Umbria.

She spent over 3 months studying under and working with Chef Lorenzo Polegri in Orvieto, Italy. Chef Polegri, being the most celebrated European chef at the James Beard House, was integral in insuring that the knowledge Chef Sutton brought back to the states would be relevant and could be easily incorporated into her own catering business.

Catering has allowed Debbie to live her dream, with her love for people and food, with creativity leading the way. Her unwavering dedication to each client is something to be noticed.

Edgar Pendley - Urban Grub

Chef Edgar Pendley’s passion for meat is evident by his forearms – and onsight curing rooms. Pendley loves his meat, and so do his customers, who now flock to Urban Grub, one of 12th South’s newest grub hubs gaining accolades for all-around sustainability.

Pendley boasts about his local sources of pigs, lamb, cows and even mushrooms. He is so close to his Dickson, TN suppliers that he not only knows which animal he is serving, he also knows what the animals have eaten

Jason Slimak

Jason was born and raised Chicago, Illinois. He remembers being interested in cooking since he was a young boy. He started his culinary career washing dishes and prepping school lunches during high school.  He attributes his inclination to cooking to his mother’s lack of cooking ability, so some of his best memories are cooking in the kitchen of his family home with his mother and father.

In Chicago, he worked for the Garden Restaurant in the Art Institute Museum, Walker Brother, Kumas Corner, De Cero, Lockdown Bar and Grill, and Veresway. The owners of Veresway were looking to reinvent their restaurant at the time, so they asked Jason to help create a new concept for her. He helped turn Veresway in Grange Hall Burger Bar, which featured grass fed beef burgers, homemade pies and ice creams, and hand cut fries. At Lockdown, Jason won Chicago's Best Burger Award and was interviewed for multiple TV outlets, such as Fox News, CBS, NBC, and the Living Well Network.

Jason moved to Nashville to be part of of the thriving food scene. After living in Nashville for only five days, he started his career with M Street and has been with the company since. Jason is now the executive chef of Saint Anejo, M Street’s cantina-style Latin inspired concept, where he implemented the weekend Brunch program and has seen immense growth in the restaurant’s success.

Carey Bringle

As a Nashville native, with deep-seated roots in the West Tennessee BBQ culture, Carey developed an appreciation for Que at a young age. His family settled in Covington, TN in 1827. His Grandfather, Dr. Carey Bringle Sr., grew up in Covington, TN cooking hogs and as an adult, delivered the children of many of the BBQ families in West Tennessee. Carey was groomed for competitive barbecuing by his uncle, Bruce, who competed in the very first Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Carey has now been cooking in the Super bowl of Swine for over 25 years and with my former team Hog Wild, took 2nd place on three separate occasions.

After being diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, Carey went through 8 months of intensive Chemo Therapy and lost his right leg. After winning a hard-fought battle with the overwhelming support of my friends and family, he emerged with a new perspective and renewed outlook on life, realizing that every day brought a new adventure, opportunity for new experiences, and most importantly, a chance to eat more great food. It is this zest for life, positive attitude and sense of humor that Carey shares with you in his signature “Peg Leg Porker” brand of sauces and rubs.

4206 Gallatin Road
Nashville, TN 37216

Ryan Bernhardt

Ryan’s love of food didn’t start in the usual way. After years of the same plain cheeseburgers and light sauce cheese pizzas, he was bored with his diet. Eating wasn’t fun. Because he had never liked vegetables, he decided to become a vegetarian. During this time, “salad isn’t food” was his motto and when dining out, he looked to ethnic food where vegetarianism is welcome and options are bountiful.

This big change in his life forced him to teach himself how to cook and he realized the potential for creativity in the kitchen. Around the same time, he was having a hard time finding work in his chosen field, graphic design, and out of necessity took a job in the basement cafeteria of a Carnegie Mellon dorm. Even working along side restaurant burn-outs, and halfway house parolees, he felt a passion for restaurant life. It offered creativity, flexibility and the necessity to adapt as the restaurant constantly changed.

In 2007, Ryan relocated to Nashville where he continued his pursuit of cooking as a career. Under Margot McCormack, Owner and Executive Chef of both Marche Artisan Foods and Margot Cafe, Ryan first worked at the former, eventually becoming Sous Chef and handling the dinner operations. This is where he realized how much happiness you could offer someone through a great meal. After a couple years, he moved up the street to Margot Cafe where he was named Sous Chef and then, most recently, Chef de Cuisine. Using his creativity to plan and execute a daily menu and being able to experience Margot’s love of food first-hand, fueled Ryan’s passion for one day opening his own place.

TKO will be a place where Ryan can make people happy every day. He can use all the knowledge that his chef mentors and cook friends have shared with him over the years. His creativity can be unleashed into a cuisine that he’s always loved. TKO will be unpretentious, conscientious and accessible Southern Chinese food. TKO will be opening fall of 2016.