Settle in with Chef Ryan Trimm of Sweet Grass

Portabella BBQ Sandwich and beer from Central BBQ. Photo Credit: Justin Fox Burks

Memphis is the barbecue capitol of the world, but we've got more than pork. Try the portabella and barbecue sandwich from Central BBQ. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

Restaurant Iris. Photo Credit: Justin Fox Burks

Fine dining at Restaurant Iris in Memphis. Chef Kelly English. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

Cocktails at Sweet Grass Next Door. Photo Credit: Justin Fox Burks

Sweet Grass and Next Door make sweet culinary magic in Midtown Memphis. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

The Orpheum Theatre and trolley. Photo Credit: Phillip Parker

See a Broadway show at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis. Photo by Phillip Parker.

It can be a difficult task to open a successful restaurant in a burgeoning culinary town like Memphis, Tennessee Not only is the competition extremely stiff, but you only have a short time to make a positive impact on people who know great food. Ryan Trimm has done it, not once, but twice. This Food & Wine Best New Chef nominee introduced Memphis to elevated low country cooking with his flagship restaurant, Sweet Grass, located in the Cooper Young neighborhood of Midtown. He followed that up with a laid back neighborhood bar, Next Door, where they put just as much emphasis on the food as they do the drinks. Find out why this chef thinks that the Memphis culinary scene is just getting started.

What made you choose Memphis to open your restaurants? 
I was born in Pittsburgh, but I grew up in Memphis. I graduated from Christian Brothers High School in 1998 and attended Ole Miss for my bachelor's degree.

What are some of your favorite Memphis restaurants (other than your own)? 
Tsunami, my wife and I used to eat there all of the time. We have found less time to get out lately, with Sweet Grass, Next Door, and a toddler, but it's still one of our favorites.  We have only eaten at Restaurant Iris once, but it was one of the best meals we've had in Memphis. And we eat at Majestic before every Orpheum show, one of our favorite date nights.

What do you cook when you’re at home? 
Anything, but it's usually grilled. Taco night is a big hit in our house, but the giant salad is also one of my favorites. Mom's meat sauce and spaghetti is my favorite, but I don't cook it.

If someone is coming to Memphis for the first time, where do you take them?  
Payne's BBQ for a pulled pork sandwich, Central BBQ for barbecue nachos, Peabody Lobby for a Long Island iced tea, Las Delicias for fish tacos and elote, Next Door for a Butcher's platter, the Forum for a Grizzlies game, Graceland and my favorite, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

We believe that Memphis is a great culinary city. What makes the food in Memphis special?  
There is a lot going on right now.  We are watching Memphis grow as a culinary community, and there are so many unique characteristics to each restaurant. We haven't pinpointed our identity yet as to what style of food we have, but everyone knows it's more than just barbecue now. For years people associated Memphis with just barbecue, and although we still have some of the best barbecue shops in the world, we are starting to grow a great reputation beyond that. It will be interesting to watch us continue to grow over the next decade. 

To get hip to the blossoming food scene in Memphis, check out our dining and restaurant page