In 2016, chef Erik Niel was named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast, as well as voted “Chef of the Year” by the Tennessee Tourism & Hospitality Association. After having grown up in Louisiana fishing on the bayou, Erik’s upbringing strongly influenced his cooking of Southern-inspired French classics. His restaurant Easy Bistro & Bar, located in what was formerly the world’s first Coca-Cola bottling plant, is one of the most well-regarded restaurants in Chattanooga’s burgeoning food scene. The restaurant has a nationally recognized wine and craft cocktail program, and is one of the only raw bars in Tennessee that features seafood from all three coasts. In October 2014, Erik and his wife Amanda assumed operations of Main Street Meats, a neighborhood restaurant and butcher shop that works closely with Chattanooga’s surrounding farmland to explore the distinctive flavors of the region. Erik and his wife Amanda are deeply committed to furthering Chattanooga’s food culture.
Accolades & Publications
- James Beard Foundation – Best Chef Southeast Semifinalist (2016)
- Tennessee Tourism and Hospitality Association – Chef of the Year (2016)
- Best Chefs of America (2013)