What’s Cooking with Chef Erik Niel in Chattanooga

Dec 27 2014

by Cheri Leavy

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


Chef Janice Wilcher of Epting Events and Harry’s Barbeque

Chef Aaron Phillips of the Last Resort

Chef Peter Dale of The National

Chef Sal Speight & Bar Manager Brian Winters of Heirloom Cafe

Chef Mikel Sykes of the Porterhouse Grill

Emily Ullrich of Em’s Kitchen at Hawthorne Drugs

Chef Roberto Leoci of Pacci Italian Kitchen + Bar

more spotlights coming via guide2athens






Cheri Leavy View More Blog Posts from this Author

Cheri Leavy is a connector, cheerleader and marketing consultant for fellow entrepreneurs.
Building rapport and strengthening a sense of community:
• A community of female entrepreneurs through the The Southern Coterie and The Southern C Summit
• The faces and places of Athens that make our city so vibrant through guide2athens
• A community of devoted football fans through Bulldawg Illustrated
- Contributing editor to Coastal Illustrated, Executive Board Member of the UGA Alumni Association

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