James Beard Award-winning chef RJ Cooper hasn’t given up on Nashville it seems, as the chef confirms he has signed a lease to open a restaurant in a “secret location” in East Nashville. Cooper remains mum on sharing more information at this point, so stay tuned for updates as far as his East Nashville restaurant’s name and what to expect from the menu once open.
Most recently in Nashville, Cooper parted ways with Midtown’s modern American brasserie Henley in January. Since then, the chef has kept a relatively low profile, but spent the summer at a pop-up on the East Coast in Ocean City, New Jersey — according to his Instagram account.
Cooper has spent time in many kitchens throughout his career. He spent time early on in his career working under Gunter Seeger at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead and Gilbert Le Coze at Brasserie Le Coze, both in Atlanta. He also worked with Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin in New York City. In Washington, D.C., Cooper ran the kitchen at Vidalia, winning the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2007. He then went out on his own, running now-shuttered D.C.-area restaurants Rogue24 and Gypsy Soul. Prior to coming to Nashville last year, Cooper had brief stints running various kitchens in Charlotte and Atlanta.
What could Cooper have up his sleeve for an East-side restaurant? What is the Nashville restaurant scene missing? Comment below to weigh in.