Otaku South, "the occasional ramen shop" here in Nashville is holding Extra Large 2 on Saturday, February 15 at Marathon Music Works. For the event, Otaku South chef Sarah Gavigan will welcome visiting ramen chefs from all over the south and New York City for a huge party and benefit.


Guest chefs cooking along side Chef Gavigan are Edward Lee (610 Magnolia and Milkwood in Louisville and a former "cheftestant" on Top Chef as well as a visitor during last year's Music City Eats festival), Shigetoshi Nakamura (Ramen Lab and Sun Noodle in NYC), Yuji Haraguchi (YUJI Ramen in NYC), Mihoko Obuni (Mibo Love Ramen in Atlanta), Akiko Moorman (The Gohan Society in NYC, returning for a second Extra Large event) and Jess Benefield and Jason McConnell of Two Ten Jack here in Nashville. UPDATE: Just added to the list of ramen chefs is Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen in NYC.

Each chef will be serving their very own special ramen for the event. Menus haven't been finalized, but Otaku South will be serving its popular "Tennessee Tonkotsu" and there will be at least one vegetarian option.

Advanced tickets are not required, but are strongly encouraged because along with the ramen service, there will be a show performed by Guilty Pleasures. For those who wish to imbibe, there will be a cash bar for drinks. The event is open to all ages from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.; after 7 p.m., it's 18 and up only. Music starts at 8 p.m.

The best deal is to buy a ramen + show ticket for a 10% overall discount. Group discounts are available, too. But you can attend (and buy) tickets for the food and the show separately. And additional food tickets (for more bowls of ramen) will be for sale at the event, but buying online helps you avoid ticket lines. Buy your tickets on the Extra Large website.

All proceeds from the event benefit the Pablove Foundation, to fund the Teddy Berger-Greer Grant for Neuroblastoma, the most common type of infant cancer. Why Pablove? Sarah Gavigan explains.

Otaku South has generously given me a pair of combo tickets (for one bowl of ramen and admission to the show) to give away to a commenter. If you already have tickets, you can still enter; you'll just get an extra bowl of ramen!

Entry #1 (mandatory to win): leave a comment with your favorite comfort food, the slurpier, the better.

For up to 2 additional, optional entries (total of 3 possible):

Entry #2: Follow @lesleyeats on Twitter AND @OtakuSouth on Twitter and tweet:

Slurp for a cause: win 2 tix to @OtakuSouth's Extra Large 2 benefiting @pablove from @lesleyeats

and leave a comment with a link to your tweet or your twitter handle.

Entry #3: Like Otaku South on Facebook and leave a comment indicating you have (if you like OtakuSouth already, just mention that!).

The contest will be open from now until Wednesday, February 12  at 1 p.m. CST. The winner will be chosen at random and be notified by email that afternoon and will have until Friday, February 14 at 1 p.m. to respond. If there’s no response, I will choose another winner.

This contest is now CLOSED. Congraulations to commenter #7!


Among the things that are very important in this part of the south are bourbon, entertaining and decor, both inside and out. So it was no surprise that as the Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville has grown (now at the new Music City Center!), that an event that brings them all together would be included.

"A Bourbon Party: Bourbon + Southern Food + Gardens = Modern Entertaining" will be held Friday, February 7 as part of the event and is hosted by  garden designer Jon Carloftis; chefs Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton of Canal House Cooking, and the publishers of The Bourbon Review, Seth Thompson, Brad Kerrick, Justin Thompson and Bob Edison. For $50 per person, you'll be treated to tastings of the finest bourbons as well as food and fun.


Additionally, the Canal House chefs will be hosting a lecture with garden designer Jon Carloftis on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. The lecture, "The Finer Things in Life - the Southern Way" will cover entertaining and other lifestyle topics. The Canal House chefs will also be signing their latest cookbooks, Canal House Cooking and Canal House Cooks Every Day, following the lecture.

Tickets for the show and the various events can all be purchased online here. All show proceeds benefit Cheekwood and ECON (Economic Club of Nashville) Charities.


It’s been two weeks since Music City Eats, but I’m still really excited about all the great things I learned and all the great people I met at the festival.

I’ve already read a few wrap-ups of the festival, which have primarily focused on all the food that was available from both local chefs/restaurants as well as nationally (and internationally) known chefs. And the food was great (more on that later), but what I enjoyed most were the demos and panels and being able to speak one-on-one with the folks who are among the best at what they do in the whole world. So that’s what I’d like to write about first; not just to share with readers, but as a reference for myself.

Nancy Silverton explains why pastry chefs are so zen: they take out all their frustration on the dough.
Nancy Silverton explains why pastry chefs are so zen: they take out all their frustration on the dough.

The first demonstration I attended was Nancy Silverton’s “Dessert Anyone?”. Pastry crusts of any sort are just not my strong point (okay; I have failed miserably at every attempt, actually), so I was very interested in watching Chef Silverton make the Torta Della Nonna from her Mozza cookbook. Just to watch her technique was fun and interesting. [Side note: many thanks to Alisa Huntsman for sharing her dowel trick for rolling out dough to a specific height.] The only disappointment of the demo was that we were not allowed to sample. Heartbreaking.

The Torta Della Nonna that I did not get to taste. Boo.
The Torta Della Nonna that I did not get to taste. Boo.

Later, during the Harvest Dinner, I did get the chance to try one of Chef Silverton’s creations: she made a delicious ricotta-stuffed squash blossom that was deep fried. It was the most delicious thing I ate the entire weekend (and the only vegetarian option aside from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at the dinner). It was great to learn directly from her that she uses male blossoms and that if you don’t prefer to fry, they’re just as good not fried as well as stirred into a risotto (at the very end) or in a fritatta. Now I regret leaving all those male blooms out in the garden.

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