When the top toque changes in a notable kitchen, it can often work out for the best for all involved, such as when Levon Wallace moved to Strategic Hospitality, allowing a talented newcomer in the person of Rob Newton to take the helm at Gray & Dudley. Even more recently, a similar swap at Oak Steakhouse resulted in a new chef coming to town as the previous chef moved on to a new venture. I’ll admit I heard about who the replacement was before I even knew that opening chef Eric Zizka had moved on, but a little sleuthing solved the mystery. (OK, I’ll also admit that I simply discovered the answer on Zizka’s Facebook page. No Pulitzer for me.)
The new executive chef at Oak Steakhouse is Bobby Hodge, who may be a newcomer to Nashville but is a longtime employee of Indigo Road Hospitality Corp., Oak’s parent company. Most recently, Chef Hodge served as the executive chef of the Indigo Road’s Town Hall Restaurant & Bar in Florence, S.C. He had previously served as sous chef at The Macintosh in Charleston, S.C., under James Beard Award-nominated executive chef Jeremiah Bacon.
“Bobby has been a part of our family for several years and we’re excited to announce his new role,” said Steve Palmer, Indigo Road managing partner. “Bobby has been serving technique-driven, farm-fresh food in Florence and is dedicated to creating a similar menu based on Southern dishes with new, exciting ingredients and our signature Certified Angus Beef at Oak Steakhouse in Nashville.”
Chef Zizka did an admirable job developing a locally sourced menu at Oak Steakhouse, including a program of dry-aged steaks that rivaled any beef in town. He’ll be taking his talents upstairs at the impending JW Marriott Nashville just down the street from the Westin and Oak. If you’ve traveled downtown in the past year, there’s no missing the towering futuristic construction at 201 Eighth Ave. S. If you’ve wondered what was going into the protuberance sticking out from the upper floors, it’s not a spaceport for George Jetson.
Here’s the scoop: We already knew that famed San Francisco chef/restaurateur Michael Mina would be involved in the hotel’s dining program, but now we know it will specifically be the sixth outpost of Mina’s Bourbon Steak family, joining other locations in Marriott premium brands like the Four Seasons and Fairmont. Zizka will officially join the team at Bourbon Steak as chef de cuisine in time for an anticipated summer opening, possibly even as soon as July. Stay tuned to this space for more info as opening night approaches.