Each month, we’ll chat with one of Nashville’s chefs about what life is like beyond the apron.
ANDREW RODRIGUEZ @burnt_ends
Executive Chef, Little Octopus
Live: Mt. Juliet / Work: The Gulch
Andrew Rodriguez is no stranger to the culinary game. His grandfather introduced him to a strong work ethic and a love for cooking at an early age. After making his mark in culinary school and on the industry in The Big Apple, he moved south. Now. you can find him refining his Latin inspired menu at Little Octopus in The Gulch.
Where do you dine when the apron is off?
There are more and more places popping up in Nashville; regardless of that, I have my favorite spots. Rolf & Daughters tops my list of go to places, alongside City House and Henrietta Red. All three places have a casual vibe but create some of the best food in town.
Go to spot for drinks?
I’m not a huge cocktail guy; I’m more basic in that aspect. A cold beer and a shot is more my style. Bastion never disappoints, not to mention, the playlist always has a deep cut bumping. With all the local breweries around, there is so much great beer to choose from. Bearded Iris in Germantown produces my favorite selection of beer, hands down.
What inspired you to become a chef?
Cooking is in my blood. My grandfather owned a slew of restaurants in the ‘60s and ‘70s in NY. I’ve been working in the industry since I was 18, and the fast pace is something I cannot live without. I cooked prior to culinary school, but it was during school that my instructors noticed my natural cooking ability. They opened the doors and set me on a path to some of NY’s best kitchens.
Advice you would you give aspiring chefs?
Without a doubt, this is a true labor of love. The hours will be long, and it will require extensive sacrifice. The most important advice I can give to young people pursuing this is to never stop learning. On average I buy four cookbooks a month. Product knowledge and remaining current is an essential part to staying relevant in this industry.
What brought you to Nashville?
I came down with my family in the summer of 2014. Four months later I was offered a position with Jonathan Waxman to lead Adele’s. I made the move from New York because I saw the potential in the growing culinary scene.
How can Nashville improve?
TRAFFIC IS A NIGHTMARE; it seems to get worse daily. If we could just go ahead and increase the roads that would be great.
Thing you are most excited about at work right now?
Spring is finally here, and I’m looking forward to all the produce that will be coming into play. The spring menu will allow me to shift the focus more on vegetables.
What should people be ordering at Little Octopus?
My absolute favorite dish on the menu is the mushrooms. The base is a Peruvian cheese sauce, topped with hen of the wood mushrooms and cured beef. The flavor reminds me of a loaded baked potato.