Amanda Frederickson may have come to Nashville by way of California, but she’s laying down local roots in a big way. The culinary expert has a full plate with two young children, her brand new cookbook, Simple Beautiful Food, and the success of her recently opened Sylvan Supply restaurant, Radish Kitchen. From encouraging us to prevent food waste to helping us push past the kitchen intimidation factor that so many of us experience, she inspires us to put more emphasis on our appreciation for clean and easy foods. Please welcome chef, restaurateur, author, and our newest FACE of Nashville, Amanda Frederickson.
Years ago, you quit your corporate job to pursue culinary arts. What inspired you to make that transition?
It was something I’d always dreamed of. I was always attracted to food, but I never really realized it could be a part of my career. I moved to San Francisco in 2007 and totally fell in love with it. Food was interwoven into the culture there — everything from Michelin star restaurants to the corner bodega with incredible produce and food. I cooked whenever I had a chance, and I entertained. I loved having people over so I could cook for them.
I was working at a bunch of nonprofits doing fundraising at the time, and it was an amazing, purpose-driven job, but I wasn’t completely fulfilled. I took cooking classes on the side just to have fun and see what it was about. One day, the woman who was teaching one of them sent me an email and said, “Hey, I’m starting my own cooking class.” I went in, and I was totally inspired by her. She inspired me to take the lead from being in the corporate, nonprofit fundraising world to jumping headfirst into the culinary world. I had no plans after cooking school, but I knew I was super passionate about it, and I could figure it out as I went.
What brought you to Nashville?
My husband got a job here, and I was working for myself at the time. I was freelancing, writing cookbooks and developing recipes, and I could do that anywhere; I just needed a kitchen and a camera. I’m from South Florida, and I was pregnant at the time, so I just wanted to be close to my family. My husband is from D.C., so this is closer to his family as well. He went to college with a number of people who grew up in Nashville, and they’d all moved back, so we have friends who are already built-in. Also, the food scene here in Nashville is fantastic! I was super inspired by the people who have driven the culinary scene forward.
What does the menu look like at your new restaurant, Radish Kitchen?
I divided the menu into eight signature dishes — things I love to eat. I have everything from a traditional chicken Caesar to the Rad Thai, which has steak, mango and almonds. You can take any of the flavor combinations and turn them into a salad, a grain bowl or a wrap.
RELATED: The Next Big Thing in Sylvan Park
Tell us about “Fridge Foraging.”
I do this thing on my social media every Wednesday called “Fridge Foraging.” I started it about three-and-a-half years ago, and I bring people into my kitchen — to my refrigerator — and show them what I have. I come up with two easy dinner options, they vote on it, and then we make it together. It’s a way to empower people to cook with what they have.
I was cooking in the Williams-Sonoma test kitchen for several years, developing recipes for their catalog, which was a great learning experience for me. When I left the kitchen, I freelanced and developed my own recipes. I was looking at the landscape, and everything required so many different ingredients. I had a lot of really accomplished friends who said they didn’t cook because they looked at recipes and got overwhelmed, didn’t want to mess up, or they’d had a Pinterest fail. I think we’ve all been there! They were intimidated by the idea of cooking, and I wanted to show them you can make something incredible out of nothing, just based on a couple of different things you have in your fridge. At the same time, you’re preventing food waste — we all throw away so much food that could turn into edible, delicious meals. So, it’s a way to inspire my friends and my community to cook every night. To get in there and try things.
You recently released your first cookbook, Simple Beautiful Food. What led you to put all of your recipes in one place?
I’m a huge fan of simple flavors and simple cooking. I’d been doing Fridge Foraging for a couple of years, and I was trying to figure out a way to incorporate it into a book that’s a useful tool for people in the kitchen. I’d recently written The Staub Cookbook. My book editor and I are really good friends, and we were brainstorming different cookbook options, and Simple Beautiful Food developed. It’s the idea that food can be simple and beautiful at the same time. You don’t have to go to five different grocery stores to make a great dish of food. It’s not a big coffee table cookbook; it’s meant to be left on your kitchen counter, earmarked and written on. It’s also written in a conversational style.
You live in what you call a “lovingly restored” 1930s bungalow. Can you tell us about it?
I’m a huge fan of old houses. I guess that’s probably also what drew me to Sylvan Supply; I love old things that have been redone. We moved in about two-and-a-half years ago, and we love the neighborhood — we can walk to different places. We restored the kitchen, which was fun. I love the creaky old floors and even the little gaps in the door. It’s an old house, and I love the character of it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Trust yourself. You know what’s right. Look inside of yourself and take a minute to listen. Know that you know the right answer.
Outside of faith, family and friends, what three things can’t you live without?
Fresca. I’m obsessed with Fresca! I haven’t been able to find it since the pandemic happened. I love going for hikes or walks and being outside whenever I can. And I love finding old antique, restored pieces of furniture.
Thanks for the interview, Amanda, and thanks to Joseph Bradshaw for the beautiful photography.
For more amazing local FACES, visit our archives!