251: Knowing When to Break the Rules with Chef Tandy Wilson


Tandy WilsonNashville native, Chef Tandy Wilson, got his start in the restaurant business during the late 9o’s as a dishwasher and quickly transitioned to line cook. By 2002 he had both an Administration and culinary degree. After 5 years of working on the west coast, traveling to Italy, and resettling roots in Nashville, Tandy opened City House in 2007.
He has been recognized as “Best New Chef in the Southeast” by Food and Wine magazine and After nine semifinalist nominations and Three consecutive finalist nominations chef Wilson Finally took the title of James Beard’s “Best Chef Southeast”.

Show notes…

Today’s Sponsor

Hospitality Tips From the World's Best (1)

Favorite Success Quote or Mantra.

“Keep your nose to the grindstone every day. EVERY DAY.

Career Challenge or Failure

Chef Tandy opened a restaurant 8 hrs away from City House. He didn’t know the community or the people he was serving and wasn’t cooking what they wanted. The lesson here is to start with the end in mind. In this circumstance the end point is the guest and community your serving. Start with asking what do they want or what would they like.

If you’re trying to do something truly special make it easier on the community be giving them a little something they’re familiar with and slowly work in the more culturally shocking items.


Knowledge bombs

  1. Which “it factor” habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?

    • Stubborn
  2. What is your biggest weakness?

    • Knowing when people are not right from the beginning, but continuing to hang on to that person, because you want to help them.
  3. What is one piece of advice you have for leading others?

    • It has everything to do with having the right attitude.  If you can come to work everyday, have the right attitude and work towards getting things done, than you expect that from other people.
  4. Whats one question or thing that you look for doing an interview? 

    • Look for a level of engagement. If they’re truly engaged and interested it will be easy to determine.
  5. Whats a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?

    • learning to manage multiple things at one time.
    • “You can’t have the quality of home and the feeling of love that our food has, being represent by cold, stiff, staff.
  6. Whats one thing (besides food) your restaurant does well and seperates you from other restaurants?

    • Hospitality.
  7. Whats one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?

    1. Siddhartha
    2. The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food
  8. Whats one piece of technology you’ve adopted in your restaurant and how has it influence operations?

    1. imgres-2Restaurant Connect– A complete reservation system. Online reservations, table management, group dining, event planning, marketing. Rezbook Alternative.
  9. With all the knowledge you have now, if you could go back in time and give your past self one piece of business advice, What would it be and why?

    • Have a destination so you can stay on the best path to get you there.
    • Never say never.  Know when to break the rules or core values to get you where you’re going faster.

Contact Info


Thanks for Listening!

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Huge thanks to Chef Tandy Wilson for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!