Rebekah Turshen is the face behind all the fabulous pastry dishes at City House. Just like owner and Executive Chef Tandy Wilson’s dinners, Rebekah’s desserts never disappoint. As Nashville continues to be recognized as a foodie destination, we were delighted to find out more about the woman responsible for some of our favorite desserts in town.
What were some of your favorite Nashville places to visit growing up?
Two of my favorite places in Nashville have always been the Belcourt Theater and the flea market at the fairgrounds—so much goodness!
When did you realize you could make a career out of baking?
I started my first baking job in February 1993 at Harvest Cafe and Bakery in Oxford, MS. By the end of my first day I decided to make a career out of it. It has been a long road and I feel so fortunate to have found a place to do the kind of work that I love.
How does one interview for a position like yours, City House pastry chef?
I have to thank my friend, fellow chef, and City Grocery/Oxford Mississippi alum Will Uhlhorn who gave Tandy my number when he needed a new pastry chef back in 2009. Before my interview I put together a sample menu of desserts and breads I thought would fit in well with the food at City House. I baked everything at home and brought it all in to share with Tandy and Aaron Clemins, City House sous chef. I’ve been here just over four years now and I love that several of those items are still in heavy rotation! The lemon basil sherbet has been a favorite, as well as the sesame seed rolls you’ll often find on our Sunday Supper menu as a bun for the head cheeseburger. P.S., definitely order the head cheeseburger! So delicious, one of my favorites!
What is the best part of working for Tandy Wilson?
Tandy’s food is unconventional, but also feels like home; our aesthetic sensibilities complement each other well. Also we both hate chef coats!
You are long gone before the customers come in, correct? Does that ever make you feel disconnected?
Usually I am, yes! And, yes, I do sometimes. That is why some of my favorite days at work include hosting special in house events at City House like guest chef Sunday Suppers, our special craft beer dinners and the Southern Foodways Alliance gatherings.
Do you ever eat at City House, as a patron and listen to what people are saying about the food?
It’s a treat coming in to eat at the end of my work week for Sunday Supper! I do tend to peek sideways at my neighbors’ plates. I love a chance to see a dessert order demolished!
Do you have a favorite dessert or bread to make?
Lately I love cast iron skillet cakes. Baking in cast iron makes for the nicest crust and presentation! I make the almond crusted lemon ricotta pound cake on our menu that way. A sweet potato skillet cake with pecan meringue and a chocolate stout cake with chocolate bourbon glaze are a couple of new favorites.
If you could have another job for a day, what would that job be?
I would like to be a personal chef for my sister, her husband and my niece and nephew!
Do you sell any pastries anywhere else?
I set up a booth with my husband Harry Underwood at local markets under the name myfavoriteplum. I sell sweets and he sells his small paintings. It’s a unique opportunity for us to connect with the community, since I work before service starts at City House and he works in his home studio.
Besides City House, where do you like to go to dinner when craving a great meal with equal service?
Nine times out of ten it’s sushi at Koto downtown. For my birthday this year, I went for lunch and got take out for dinner! I live on the edge.
Where is a favorite escape in Nashville?
The trails at Percy Warner Park.
What is a valuable piece of advice you have been given?
Think it over, think it under.
What books can be found on your bedside table?
Do you have any irrational fears?
Missing something good.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding God, family and friends?
- All my scribbled, stained and battered recipe books
- Pure lavender oil for kitchen burns
- My new assistant, Pierette!
Thank you so much, Rebekah! Learn more about City House here: cityhousenashville.com.
Special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for her photos each week for our FACES of Nashville series. To see more of Ashley’s work, click here.
To read more about Rebekah, be sure to check out the rest of her interview, here, in Nashville Lifestyles!