The Food Biz: Help wanted

Farmers' Market launches search for new director

The Nashville Farmers’ Market, an active hub in the city’s burgeoning food scene, has launched the search for an executive director. The city-owned facility issued an official Metro government help-wanted release last week, after more than a year without a permanent director.

The Metro job posting confirms the city has dropped the idea of outsourcing operations at the deficit-plagued market to a private firm.

Also new at the market: The board has added a new member, and he’s a pretty prominent figure in the Nashville food community: Tyler Brown, the nationally lauded chef at the Hermitage Hotel’s Capitol Grille. Brown is both a chef and a farmer — he raises produce for the restaurant on land staked out at the historic Glen Leven estate, and is in the process of setting up a cattle farm on land the hotel purchased in Dickson County.

The chairman of the Nashville Farmers’ Market board is another well-regarded Nashville chef, Margot McCormack of Margot CafĂ© and Marche.

The search for a new director comes as the market works to reboot. The last director, Jeff Themm, announced his retirement from the job in April 2012, shortly after a Metro review found “management and financial deficiencies” at the market. Nancy Whittemore of Metro General Services has been serving as the market’s interim director.

Since Themm’s departure, there has been much operational soul-searching at the facility. It’s a diverse operation, with indoor and outdoor spaces that are rented out to farmers, produce resellers, artisan food purveyors, craftspeople, flea market vendors, restaurants and small shops.

Under Whittemore’s leadership the staff has worked to overhaul and improve the market. For example, the sheds have been completely rearranged this year to better showcase the diverse wares.

The market is hoping to attract a wide range of applicants for the executive director job. The Metro Human Resources ad lists the salary at $68,000 to $78,000, with a long list of duties and requirements, plus a warning about “some work on nights and weekends.” Interested parties can apply online via

• Another venerable culinary venue, the Viking store and cooking school in Franklin, is shutting down after nearly 14 years of providing high-end gear and instruction to enthusiastic home cooks.

The store, which opened in November 1999 in the Factory at Franklin, announced on its Facebook page that it will close Aug. 16. Over the years it has offered hundreds of different cooking classes for adults, kids and teens.

In addition to various culinary gadgets and attire, the store sold high-end Viking ranges. People with gift certificates can redeem them now in Franklin, or after Aug. 16, at Viking’s Atlanta store or online.

• The Miami-based chain Pollo Tropical opened its Cool Springs location earlier this month.

Pollo Tropical, which specializes in Caribbean-inspired fast-casual cuisine with an emphasis on grilled citrus-marinated chicken, opened its first Tennessee location in Smyrna Feb. 1. The fast-casual chain has been opening new locations at a pretty fast clip, mostly in Florida but also in Georgia and the two in Tennessee. It also franchises internationally.

• Last year there was much celebration to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of the great Julia Child. Restaurateur Randy Rayburn’s Midtown Cafe has decided to bring the festivities back for a second year. Midtown’s “Salute to Julia Child” runs Aug. 1-18, featuring some of the classic French dishes that Child popularized, like vichyssoise, duck a l’orange and Nicoise salad. Some of the dishes will continue to be offered from Aug. 19 through Sept. 1 as part of Nashville Originals Restaurant Week.

Ten percent of proceeds from the Julia Child menu will benefit the scholarship fund at Nashville State Community College’s Randy Rayburn School of Culinary Arts.