Easy Bistro's Erik Niel earns James Beard honor

A tasting event tonight, Feb. 4, at Easy Bistro, 203 Broad St., will feature wines from Argyle Winery, one of Oregon's most celebrated producers, paired with hors d'oeuvres and menu offerings from chef Erik Niel.

Easy Bistro and Main Street Meats chef and owner Erik Niel was named a regional James Beard finalist for his work on Wednesday. The awards are the highest honors for food and beverage professionals in the country and are given to chefs, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, designers, architects and food journalists.

This is the second year in a row that Niel has been so honored.

"It is very exciting and very cool," he said.

For there to only be three in Tennessee to be listed and to be one of them is incredible because there are a lot of incredible restaurants in this state and in this city. It's an honor and humbling."

photo Erik Niel

Niel said that while the honor is given in his name, it's a reflection on the hard work and passion shown by his staffs at both restaurants.

"We work very hard and try to be hospitable all of the time, so this says a lot about that hard work."

From a business standpoint, the award is "great for business because it doesn't mean you are fancy or expensive. It just means the food is good."

Chef Daniel Lindley at Alleia was a semifinalist in 2015 and nominated for the award in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The James Beard Awards Gala, which honors chefs, restaurants, and design, will take place on Monday, May 2, in Chicago. The media gala is April 26 in New York.