In a relatively short period of time, Chattanooga has gone from a sleepy river town to one bustling with activity. Our riverfront is vibrant, and our streets are awash with new restaurants, making it one of the South’s top dining destinations.
New restaurants have opened from Ooltewah to the Northshore to Chattanooga’s growing Southside, offering ever-changing menus that echo national food trends.
One of the best ways to get a taste is to visit any of the dozens of restaurants participating in Restaurant Week 2017, a week that puts the focus on area chefs and restaurants. It’s a chance to realize the milestones made in the Scenic City, a town that now offers tastes from around the world while, in keeping with the farm-to-table movement, supporting farmers and food producers in our area.
But it’s a certain quintet of culinary genius who will be front and center at Chattanooga Market’s annual FiveStar Food Fight, the culminating event of Restaurant Week. The event is fueled with excitement as the heat is on, putting five local chefs in the spotlight, going skillet to skillet on July 30th, in front of the panel of judges on a tasty mission to determine who among the five is the best of the best.
The following will give you a look at this year’s chefs to discover what puts them at the forefront of Chattanooga’s food scene—and rocketing toward its future. Visit their restaurants during Restaurant Week, then come to Chattanooga Market to see them in action. Please come back daily to see all of our featured chefs. Our first featured chef is returning champ, Patrick Halloran from Hummingbird’s Pastaria.
After taking home the win in last year’s FiveStar Food Fight, Halloran saw an increase in traffic to visit his restaurant, ℹ️ Hummingbird Pastaria, opened three years ago on Signal Mountain. How much of an increase is hard to gauge, he says, but he is very appreciative of the support given by the Chattanooga community.
As many other chefs, Halloran was not formally trained. “Like many that have fallen in love with cooking before me, I learned what we do at Hummingbird Pastaria through apprenticeship with many hard-working, passionate individuals,” he tells.
He’d just graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in literature when ideas for a career in the restaurant business began to simmer. For this, he credits restaurateur Thad Gillies, who had just opened Logan, a restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“Thad provided my first opportunity to get raked through the basic of stocks, sauces and how to compose a dish,” Halloran says.
He’d worked in kitchens since he was 14 years old, but knew little more than how to prep ingredients. Thad, he says, gave him the chance to learn more.
“Like any growing cook, I realized how much I needed to learn from others who are passionate like Thad,” Halloran adds.
But it was a third-generation French butcher he worked under in Austin, Texas, who taught him the importance of using the entire animal, not just certain parts.
“That has greatly influenced who we are at Hummingbird Pastaria,” he notes. “It has enabled me to have direct relationships with family farms in the area. We value that, and it has set us apart from other Chattanooga restaurants.”
Not one to follow trends, Halloran says he prefers placing a focus on the individual ingredients that go into a dish.
“I almost always take the rustic approach,” he says. Visit Hummingbird and you’ll find this approach taken in such dishes as his lasagna bolognese or the pork saltimbocca, two of many Italian offerings found on the menu.
“We often say that if your great-grandmother did not know the cooking technique, we are probably not using it,” Halloran says.
For more information please visit hummingbirdpastaria.com.