What’s Cooking with Chef Erik Niel in Chattanooga
Chef: Erik Niel
Restaurant: Easy Bistro & Bar
Erik grew up in Louisiana fishing on the bayou – an upbringing that strongly influenced his cooking of Southern-inspired French classics and passion for bringing seafood and coastal fare to landlocked Chattanooga.
Easy Bistro is located in a century-old building that was the world’s first Coca-Cola bottling plant, and has been part of Chattanooga’s tremendous growth over the past few years. Chattanooga has been quite the buzz lately with folks saying it is one of the South’s emerging iconic cities. I look forward to a visit because many are saying Chattanooga has similar characteristics of my beloved Athens, GA. When I go, Easy Bistro & Bar will be on my must-do list!
Eric shares what’s cooking in his world…
Five ingredients always in your pantry:
Basmati Rice, Dried Egg Pasta, Canned Chicken Broth, Preserved Heirloom Tomatoes, Anson Mills Grits
Five ingredients always in your fridge:
Olympic Provisions Salami, Dijon Mustard, 8-month Manchego, Limes, Avocados
Do you cook at home? And if so, what?
Yes, simple dinners for my family. I love putting together the random ingredients we have in the house for quick meals. The usually involves roasting something in the oven with fresh herbs (from the back yard) and garlic, with whatever veggies we have.
Where is a favorite culinary travel destination for you and why?
New York City. I try to go at least once a year to see where the restaurant world is pointing. You can tell a lot about what’s going on from a 3-day trip.
What are your go-to popular items you like to serve at a cocktail party?
Crab and Radish Salad on Bibb Hearts
Candied Bacon and Smoked Cashews
East Coast Oysters on the half shell with preserved lemon, herb oil and fennel
Fresh Flour Tortillas and Guacamole (who doesn’t like this!)
Sweet and Savory – name your favorite dishes for each.
Sweet: Strawberry Shortcake, for sure. Macerated Fresh Strawberries with a Sweet Biscuit and Chantilly cream.
Savory: Whole Roast Chicken, Haricots Verts, Mashed Potatoes (it’s the Francophile in me)
What do you like to do outside of cooking?
I’m a fisherman, duck hunter and outdoor enthusiast.
I love playing outside with my son whenever we have a moment.
I also work in my yard and garden for much needed Zen, and enjoy drinking and collecting wine and bourbon.
What would you want for your last meal?
In this order:
1 dozen Island Creek Oysters on the Half Shell
5Lbs of Boiled Crawfish from Heinen’s Crawfish Boil-n-Go in Lake Charles, LA.
Barbecue Shrimp from Pascal’s Manale
The Bee Sting Pizza from Roberta’s
Aaron Franklin’s Beef Brisket
My Grandmother’s Spaghetti & Meatballs
And a whole Muffaletta from Central Grocery for the ride there…..
Easy Bistro & Bar • 203 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37402 • 423.266.1121
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