As she adds a pinch of salt to a skillet full of kale, Silo Executive Chef Kristin Beringson sings along to the tunes that fill the restaurant’s kitchen.
“My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone,” she harmonizes with Justin Bieber as he pours his heart out in “Love Yourself.”
She moves effortlessly around the room (though she’d say she “waddles,”), until she has to kneel to get a bowl.
“The going down part is easy,” she says. “It’s the getting up that’s hard.”
After all, Kristin will be a mama herself very soon; she’s nearly 9 months pregnant. But she pulls up with her free hand, stabilizes herself on the prep table and simply “powers through it” like she’s done since June when she found out she was expecting a little boy of her own.
“I’m really lucky,” says 35-year-old Kristin, who is also a 2014 “Chopped” champion. “I’ve had a really easy, good pregnancy. The things that I complain about are miniscule compared to things I know could be happening to me.”
She hardly complains, by the way, but little by little, she begins to reveal some of what she’s been coping with for the past several months. She suspected she was pregnant, for example, when her sense of smell “went through the roof.” She could smell food that others were cooking or prepping from long distances away and realized immediately that it wasn’t normal. It didn’t take long for that sharp sense of smell to lead to food aversions. About a week after she confirmed that she was indeed with child, she wrote the mussels off the menu.
“I could not be around shellfish,” she says. “I was so secretive, but I just said, ‘Yep, done with the mussels, and the bouillabaisse can go, too. We’re going to do more meat-centric things right now.’”
Fortunately, she never got sick; she just felt queasy. And while food aversions caused her to eliminate dishes from the menu, cravings yielded new menu items. She added a romaine salad because she simply couldn’t get enough of the crunchy lettuce.
“Everybody said that’s the lamest craving, but I couldn’t help it,” she says. “It’s so cold and refreshing and wonderful. I wanted to lay with it and roll around and eat it.”
Her dishes also have more of a sweet component than usual, she says. Though she’s never had much of a sweet tooth, her partner, the baby’s daddy, does, and she wonders if that’s why she’s wanted so many sweets for the past eight months. She lets her pastry chef handle the dessert menu, but she says she’s definitely been more involved in the tasting process.
“It probably drives her crazy,” Kristin says of her pastry chef. “I’ll be like, ‘What kind of ice cream do you have here? Hmmm, needs more fudge.’”
While Beringson admits the extreme fatigue during the first trimester was probably the most difficult part of her pregnancy, she never altered her schedule, which consists of 10- to 12-hour shifts, five days a week. Recently, though, she’s been trying to stay off her feet as much as possible, and her boss, Silo owner Clay Greenberg, has been very supportive of her changing duties, as she’s been focusing more on clerical work in the office, rather than busy work in the kitchen. But at night, there’s no avoiding the dinner shift, and she says her line cooks, all men, have been extremely supportive of her increasingly round belly.
“I forget that I stick out, so I knock things over,” she says. “And my ‘behind you’ calls aren’t exactly the same as they used to be. Now, I’m like, ‘Coming through.’”
It’s not unusual for the guys on the line to joke about her going into labor during the night shift.
“They’ll be like, ‘Alright, test run, chef is in labor. Somebody get a bucket, somebody grab an apron. They make it cute. They’re sweet dudes.”
Despite the loving jokes, she’d obviously prefer to be at home when the contractions start. In fact, she says she’s already beginning to feel like she shouldn’t go places alone, just in case something happens. Her doctor thinks she’ll likely make it to her due date, but she’s taking off a week early, just in case the baby decides he’s ready to get the ball rolling during the Friday night dinner rush.
“I’d hate to say, ‘Oops, gotta go,’” she says.
After he’s born, she plans to take six weeks off, and she’s already set the menu so that it’s easily executed for that amount of time.
“Usually, I change it every week or two weeks, but our guests will just have to understand that mama’s out for baby time,” she says, adding that guests can easily eat at Silo three or four times while she’s gone and try something new each time they visit.”
At the end of the six weeks, she plans to come back in some limited capacity until she can figure out how to juggle everything. Her partner is a sous chef, so he, too, works crazy hours, but fortunately, her parents are moving here to be closer to their first grandchild.
“I don’t want to step away from my career because I really enjoy it, and I love it,” she says. “When you’re a chef and especially a female, there’s no good time to start a family.”
Indeed, that may be why pregnant chefs are a bit of an anomaly. In her eight years as a chef, Kristin says she’s never encountered anyone pregnant on the job.
“It’s kind of weird and unheard of,” she says, pointing out that the culinary industry is male-dominated, but changing every day. “It’s uncharted territory. Because women are the primary caregivers, and the chef’s job in general is so demanding, it’s hard for anyone to imagine doing both.”
She has a couple of chef friends who had children before entering the profession, and they’ve given her advice on mommyhood in the chefdom world. In the end, she’s confident that she’ll be able to make it work. And who knows? Maybe Silo’s menu will undergo a few more changes upon her return.
“I read that our brain chemistry actually changes for two years after pregnancy,” she says, citing her pregnancy reading. “I don’t know if that will affect the way I cook and run a kitchen or not.”
One thing’s for sure — she’ll be able to move around the kitchen with ease again.
“This is something I’ve had to start doing recently,” she says, lifting her apron-covered belly on the prep table as she reaches for a seasoning on the top ledge. “I also get out of breath. It’s not easy when you’re carrying around an extra 30 pounds of something else.”
SB TIP: Head to Silo around 5:30 p.m., enjoy a drink during happy hour, which is 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. — $4 local draft beers, $5 wine and $6 craft cocktails — and follow it up with a delicious meal. No wait!
Silo is located at 1121 Fifth Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37208. Hours are: Dinner — Tuesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Bar — Tuesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Brunch — Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more at (615) 750-2912 or SiloTN.com/