At the helm of Miel, one of Nashville’s most successful restaurants, proprietor Seema Prasad is cool and collected under pressure. She also is an ambassador for Nashville’s locally owned restaurants; her philosophy is that they’re all in it together, and success for one begets success for everyone. Her attention to detail is impeccable when she orchestrates a perfect flower arrangement, a gorgeous table setting and locally sourced cuisine. The end goal is always to ensure that her guests have a perfect evening. Miel, established in 2008 in the heart of the emerging Charlotte Avenue corridor, continues to rank as one of Nashville’s most intimate and innovative restaurants. It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to today’s FACE of Nashville, Seema Prasad.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Seattle, WA, in the suburb of Woodinville.
You have seen the landscape of Nashville restaurants change. What is the secret to your staying power?
Our focus on quality, the loyalty of our amazing guests and the fact that we all truly love our jobs. That gives us staying power as the restaurant landscape continues to change.
Selecting a location right off Charlotte Avenue for Miel was a risky decision; what attracted you to that location?
The location of Miel was chosen for a variety of reasons. As our city grew, the historic neighborhoods were where an independent restaurant could afford real estate, offer parking and be a part of a community. The statistics showed that the majority of the residents within a five-mile radius traveled often to larger cities with more food options, were more adventurous with their food choices and had some disposable income — great prospective guests for Miel. The bonus of everyone knowing our neighbor, Bobbie’s Dairy Dip, didn’t hurt!
You are one of few female restaurant owners in Nashville. Did you encounter obstacles when you decided to open Miel?
There were a few interesting contractor interactions, but I am a tomboy and speak their language. Overall, being a woman in the industry hasn’t made it more challenging.
What is the most exciting trend in the national restaurant scene?
The national restaurant scene has embraced the love of local and cooking with the seasons, which is what Miel is all about. This trend, which is hopefully here to stay, has helped educate the public about what is available in each season and what to look forward to in the next.
Who was an early mentor to you?
My mother and grandmother, both strong, self-disciplined women, taught me to cook, garden, can, eat and drink well. I am forever thankful for their instruction and wisdom.
What is a valuable piece of advice you have been given?
Hire people you would enjoy having to your home for dinner.
What impresses you about Nashville these days?
I am constantly impressed with how Nashvillians work together when there is need. It was especially notable after the 2010 flood, when many of our neighbors were suddenly homeless. The recovery efforts made by the public were remarkable.
What event are you looking forward to attending?
Our spring lamb dinner! It’s Sunday, April 27. We’re roasting a whole lamb and enjoying the first spring vegetables with Rhone wines, hopefully on the patio and with a fire at night.
What meal at a local restaurant has wowed you?
Dinner at 404 Kitchen. The crudo was perfect!
Time Magazine recently deemed Nashville “The South’s Red-Hot Town”; why do you think so much attention is on Nashville?
As a city, Nashville has flown under the radar for quite a while. We have always pleasantly surprised our friends from the coasts, exceeding their expectations of diversity in music, food and culture. Now the national press knows. I hope it only helps us.
If you could change one thing about Nashville, what would it be?
Efficient public transportation. We have real traffic now!
What books are on your bedside table?
- The Arabs by Eugene Rogan
- Cooked by Michael Pollan
- Bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe
- In the Green Kitchen by Alice Waters
Do you have any irrational fears?
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
South of France.
Where in town do you go when you’re looking for an inspirational boost?
For a walk at Radnor.
What five songs would be on your playlist when entertaining?
Not much entertaining happening lately, but the music that is on in the background as I work at home is Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances, anything being played by Itzhak Perlman and a little Count Basie.
What Nashville woman do you admire? Why?
There are two I have known for most of my time in Nashville: Claire Armistead and Gertrude Caldwell. We take Pilates together, which is just as fun and social as it is a workout. They have had words of wisdom when I have been challenged, explained Southernisms and regularly helped me keep my priorities straight.
What might people be surprised to learn about you?
I LOVE cars and racing.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends?
- My brown boots
If you want to read more about Miel, click here for last month’s post by Kay West.
Thank you, Seema! To see Miel’s current menu, click here.
Special thanks to our FACES photographer, Ashley Hylbert, for her gorgeous photos today. To see more of Ashley’s work: ashleyhylbert.com.