Tim McGraw Performs at Exclusive Dinner in Nashville
Chef Tim McGraw? Well yes, if you believe his story of how the menu came together for an exclusive dinner Wednesday night in Nashville.
"I came up with the whole menu, and then I presented it to them," Tim tells The Boot with a straight face. Then he breaks into laughter and confesses, "Actually we (he and Chef Tim Love) talked on the phone about my song list, the kind of food I like and how all of it would work together for an enjoyable evening."
Chef Tim Love (pictured above, left), who owns the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Fort Worth, Texas, agrees. "I found out that he likes food from Northern Italy. I listened to his music, and the fun stories he has to tell, and then I put together a menu that would allow all of that to work together."
The event, called 'Pairings: Food, Wine and Music,' was held at the beautiful, historic Union Station Hotel in Nashville. The former train station turned hotel still has railroad tracks running alongside the building, and from time to time the evening was punctuated with train whistles. But nothing could distract the 200 guests from the great food, wine and music.
'Pairings' features three key ingredients to make for a very unique evening: a celebrity, a chef and a wine expert. Tim and Chef Love were joined by Joel Peterson of Ravenswood Winery in California's Sonoma Valley. Previous 'Pairings' brought together Dave Matthews, Chef John Besh and winemaker Genevieve Jannsens, as well as John Legend with Chef Tom Colicchio and winemaker Susan Lueker.
Tim McGraw, who had just returned from a successful tour of Australia, said he decided to do the dinner concert because of the combination of experiences it would bring together for those who attended. "I like playing in an acoustic situation in a beautiful setting, and also I wanted to eat some of Tim Love's food! So the combination of good food, wine and music, together with great people in a great setting, will make for a great night. Plus American Express [sponsor of the event] does some good stuff and I wanted to be involved."
The menu for the evening paired eight great wines with a nine course meal, preceded by elk-burger sliders as one of the hors d'œuvres. The main menu included rabbit wrapped with smokey bacon, black sea bass, steak strips with local greens, and one of Tim's favorites, langoustine. The meal ended with a traditional Italian dessert called Budino, which is a heavenly butterscotch pudding with caramel sauce.
Tim told The Boot that he had never had rabbit before, and he pronounced his verdict when he came onstage after that course had been served. "The rabbit was fantastic," he declared, complimenting Chef Love, who said that the sauce for the dish took 48 hours to make. He also noted that although rabbit is a white meat, "You can't come to a meal that I've prepared without having steak."
One of the interesting things about 'Pairings' is that between each course, the chef, winemaker and celebrity come out to chat with the attendees, and talk about what to expect when the next round of food is served. This provides for an informational and entertaining part of the evening.
The steak was complimented by greens Chef Love purchased at Nashville's Farmer's Market. "I found some beautiful turnip greens, kale and some pungent mustard. Then there was a guy there who smoked his own hog jowls, and I rendered them so that we could use the oil to make a wilted salad. I made up the potato dish that will be served with the steak and greens today. It is a steamed potato that is crispy on one side, which we'll drizzle with olive oil and herbs."
Chef Love said that he has found that when you get past all the people who surround the celebrities for whom he cooks, most of them are foodies and love great food. He likes to get to know each of them personally, as well as their music, before he sits down to prepare a menu. Ravenswood's Peterson echoed that sentiment when he told the audience that music can make a wine have a different taste in varied settings.
Faith and their daughters were unable to attend the festivities because it was a school night. "We all have jet lag because we just got back off the Australian tour," Tim explained. "I might snag a few pieces of the steak to take home to them though," he added with a grin.
"This is certainly a step up from a barbecue, beer and guitar pull," the singer said when he took to the stage for the performance part of the evening. The ambiance of the Union Station lobby, with its historic clock and resident angels served as a beautiful backdrop for Tim and members of his Dancehall Doctors band. The setting was very different for the singer, who is accustomed to playing 20,000-seat arenas. The lights remained on throughout his performance, allowing him to see the people who were standing and swaying to his tunes.
Instead of doing a set of all of his hits, Tim chose instead to perform some of his favorite songs that he had recorded over the years. He opened with 'Everywhere,' followed by a song he called one of his favorites, 'My Old Friend.' Among the other songs he performed were 'Sing Me Home' and 'My Best Friend.'
Mid-way through his set, Tim paused to thank Chef Love and Ravenswood for allowing him to be part of the festivities. "As a musician, you give up a piece of your soul when you sing, and I think a great chef does that when he cooks," the singer said.
"Our goal is to give you a good experience and good memories throughout the event," Chef Love responded. "I am so happy to share this evening with you and Joel. I'm just a punk from Texas who one day fell into this profession. I love to please people with my cooking. I have a passion for doing this, and I hope you saw that tonight."
"We've got to do one summer song before it's too late," Tim said as the band played the opening notes of 'Something Like That.' Noting that Chef Love and several other people in the room were from Texas, Tim covered the George Strait hit, 'The Fireman,' before closing the evening with 'Real Good Man.' Tim, Chef Love and Peterson returned to the stage, and Tim signed autographs and posed for pictures as the crowd surged forward to meet the men who had presented them with an evening of great food, great music and wonderful memories.