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s p r i n g 2 0 1 7 | 9 5 Chef Weaver's squash & parm custard. Merrill Shindler: It's famously easy to score local produce in Oregon and California, where so much grows all year round. But doesn't Nashville actually have seasons? Bryan Lee Weaver: It's not year-round. But that's a good thing—it makes me change the menu with the seasons, so it's a creative challenge as the weather changes. And a great deal is grown locally, easily within a hundred mile radius, so almost all of our ingredients come from local farms. The quality is amazing—and come the summer, the produce explodes. MS: Butternut squash is such a wonderful ingredient, almost as much candy as it is a vegetable. And turning it into a cus- tard makes it sound like a dessert. In fact, it's listed on the menu under the heading "More Fun Stuff." BLW: We do have to explain to some that it's savory, not sweet—though butternut squash is always a bit sweet. I started making it back at Superba with Jason Neroni. We wanted to take butternut a step further, go past the usual Thanksgiving preparations. We cook down the squash for a long time, then add a bunch of cream, along with pomegran- ate, tahini milk and fried sage. It's both elegant and hardy. But yes, people are thrown off by the word "custard." MS: Tahini milk? From tahini cows? BLW: It's unusual. We take tahini and mix it with whole milk, then froth it till it has a creamy texture. And the fried sage gives the dish an added texture. It's been on the menu for four years. It's especially comforting on a cold day. MS: Speaking of savory dishes that sound like dessert, you've got a "mezze" dish called candy roasted squash, along with fire roasted carrots with coconut, confit sweet potatoes, and a persimmon & honey sandwich. It gets confusing. BLW: They challenge people's perception of the ingredi- ents. Actually, Candy Roasted Squash is a standard in northern Georgia and southern Tennessee. Mixing the squash with green beans is a local favorite. Though we do have to explain za'atar. And we use a spicy honey with a soft Hachiya persimmon, which we grill and flavor with pickled peppers. MS: This may be the only restaurant in the world to offer both Israeli shakshuka and octopus poke. BLW: I spent a week in Israel, tasting shakshuka everywhere. And I didn't want to jump on the poke bandwagon. But I do love octopus, so there it is. MS: Locally caught octopus? BLW: From Florida—no octopus in the lakes that I know of. Chef Bryan Lee Weaver at Butcher & Bee in Nashville, TN. PHOTO: ANDREW CEBULKA ■cr P HOTO : J US TI N C H E SNEY

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