I’ve traveled a lot, lived and cooked in 22 states,” muses Corey King, executive chef of Harvest at Homestead. “My food reflects the culture of all those places.” That spans the sea-to-fork traditions of two coasts, from New England to the Pacific Northwest, and takes in regional influences as diverse as New York Italian, New Orleans Creole, and his Tennessee roots.

A desire to reconnect with his father, with whom he’d lost contact as a youth, initially prompted King’s return to his native state. An opening for executive chef at the unique property in Thompson’s Station convinced the Johnson and Wales graduate to stay.

Construction of Homestead Manor began in 1809 by a Revolutionary War gunsmith and his wife, Francis and Mary Giddens, and is steeped in the region’s history. During the Civil War, the Confederacy led cavalry charges across its fields, and the antebellum home became a makeshift hospital. In the decades that followed, Homestead Manor served as a general store and post office. More recently, it was a tearoom until purchased by A. Marshall Family Foods (Puckett’s Grocery, Puckett’s Boat House, Scout’s Pub) for a fine restaurant and event center. These days, its grounds, including a solar-powered greenhouse, are devoted to growing herbs and vegetables for the restaurant, giving Harvest at Homestead hyper-local status for its farm-to-table fare.

That makes chef King proud. Furthermore, he’s found abundant sources for meats and other products within an immediate 40-mile radius of the restaurant.

“We butcher whole hogs and send the belly out to be specially cured for our bacon. Our beef is ground to my specs,” he says. And, of course, I use local beer in a few marinades, as well as my fried onion batter and pizza dough.”

After years of moving around, Corey King is feeling settled and content. He’s close to family. With a focus on local food and drink, he’s cooking in an historic place dedicated to preserving the past while ensuring the future.

A cunning array of Tennessee craft beers at hand, King has put together some tempting winter pairings with some of his favorite dishes offered at the restaurant.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 4.54.43 PM

BEEF &BEER/HAP & HARRY’S

Whether it’s the crisp golden brew of Tennessee Lager or the deep brown, bready yet bitter balance of Tennessee Ale, King believes Hap & Harry’s beers and his beef dishes make ideal partners. “Both are terrific for easy drinking with everyday comfort food,” he says. “I’d pair the Tennessee Lager with my short ribs, and the ale with my burger, but, come to think of it, the reverse would be just as good.” His Triple B burger has got it all: a hefty grass-fed patty stacked with thick strips of house bacon, crunchy beer-batter onion rings, and crumbles of gorgonzola to pump up the umami. But in cold weather, there’s nothing like the complex comfort of beef short ribs, simmered to succulence in a heady broth.

 

LITTLE HARPETH LOVE CHICKEN SCRATCH AND UPSTREAM

The love of Little Harpeth beers among chefs is widespread. King joins the ranks who hail Chicken Scratch for its straight up clean and refreshing taste. It stands up well to most foods, without overwhelming them. Its light herbal/floral character and hint of corn sweetness is a match for King’s Grilled Portobello Mushroom stuffed with herbed goat cheese. Brewed in the tradition of California Commons, Upstream is a coppery pour, crisp and toasty on the front and slightly woody and hoppy on the finish: just right with a platter of King’s charred carrots. Grown on the Homestead farm, the sweet root veggies are seasoned in basil oil before the char. King completes the plate with a curious and delectable sprinkling of brown butter “dirt.”

YAZOO SUE

When he tasted this porter, it inspired King to alter his pizza dough recipe, replacing water with Yazoo Sue. Good thinking. Cherrywood smoked, it imparts a mellow smoky malt flavor to the crust. And as King starts his pizzas on the grill, and finishes them in a brick oven, that smokiness gets further enhanced. A glass of Sue is perfect with any of his pizzas—especially the meaty ones with house sausage and brisket.

GOTTA GET UP TO GET DOWN

Rare Ethiopian coffee beans are at the heart of this milk stout, created by the folks at Wiseacre Brewing in Memphis. Those beans imbue it with silken coffee and chocolate notes and an overlay of berry fruit. Get up! Smooth, slightly sweet, this could be your ultimate dessert beer. King pairs it with a marvelous Butternut Squash Cheesecake, made by Homestead pastry chef Lokelani Alabanza. She crowns the confection with candied walnuts, bourbon glaze and a sprig of mint plucked from the garden. Get down!

HARVEST AT HOMESTEAD 4683 Columbia Pike, Thompson Station, TN 615-538-6113

Contributed by Nancy Vinneau | Photography Karen Simpson