Tandy Wilson has his humble demeanor and Belly Ham pizza, and Sean Brock has his affinity for local ingredients and ability to bring any dish to life, but Margot McCormack has something that supersedes them all: 15 years in the business of running her own restaurant, as well as bringing change and innovation to Nashville’s culinary scene.
Margot was among the first restaurateurs to hang her hat in East Nashville when she opened her namesake restaurant in 2001. She arrived there by way of an incredible trail: from her childhood home in Belle Meade, to a line-cook job during her student days at University of Tennessee, to a job with restaurateur Jody Faison, to 10 years in New York City — then back to Nashville where she served as executive chef at F. Scott’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar before launching East Nashville’s beacon restaurant, Margot Café and Bar. Together with long-time business partner, Jay Frein, Margot has worked hard to build that business, as well as to grow its sister restaurant, Marché Artisan Foods, which opened five years later.
Even before her true culinary journey began, Margot loved being in the kitchen and she credits her mother for instilling this passion. Diving into the rustic flavors of France and Italy found in Margot’s dishes, you would never know that earlier years were spent frying doughnuts, making bread and concocting sweets in her childhood home. These days, those memories of her mother still live in the kitchen Margot now shares with her wife, Heather, son, Jacob — and to all of Nashville and beyond, each time she opens the door of Margot Café.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of this Nashville staple. In celebration, Margot opened her kitchen to team up with Tandy Wilson (Margot’s former sous chef), Matt Davidson (another sous chef to pass through Margot’s kitchen), Ryan Bernhardt (chef de cuisine under Margot) and Betsy Johnston (pastry chef who spent time in Margot’s kitchen) to remind us of the growth and talent living within the confines of Music City. Diners lucky enough to snag a seat in the refurbished gas station that is now Margot Café and Bar reaped the benefits of these partnerships. But as the years come and go, the crowds won’t stop coming, Margot won’t stop trailblazing, and the food won’t stop being as fresh and delicious as it ever was.
Congratulations, Margot, and thank you for filling our bellies and changing the way we look at food. May you have many more years of happiness and joy in the kitchen!