Homestead Manor has announced that Executive Chef Carlos Garcia will spearhead culinary operations at Harvest, the property’s new Tuscan-inspired restaurant located in the ca. 1819 National Register home.
The fresh dining concept in Thompson’s Station, slated to open by the end of June, draws parallels between Italian and Southern food and family cultures. Centered on seasonality, Harvest’s menu reflects source-centric plates, with much of the ingredients plucked straight from the on-site organic farm.
Garcia has been charged with creating the vision for the fine-dining restaurant and bar operations, as well as crafting a menu that best highlights Harvest’s mission to provide diners with the freshest, and most authentic, flavors.
“This blend of Tuscany and Tennessee marries two cultures, both of which respect the concept of family and friends connecting over meals. By bringing native Southern ingredients into traditional Italian recipes, we can offer something unique to the area,” Garcia said. “People deserve to know where their food comes from. We have the opportunity to go to the farm in the morning and pick something that inspires a dish that evening.
“It’s about people being part of the experience too, which I find important—they can walk the grounds and see what we’re doing, and then watch us prepare the meal in the open-air kitchen.”
Garcia, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, has more than 30 years of experience as a chef. At the age of 11, he started his own business preparing gourmet hamburgers, often selling more than 350 a night. A famed local chef took notice and offered his mentorship, which led to a kitchen management position in a four-star hotel at the age of 17. Garcia received his formal culinary training in Mexico, where he graduated at the top of his class.
The 200-year-old Homestead Manor property—which also includes an equestrian-style event barn, in addition to the restaurant and farm—is the latest endeavor of A. Marshall Family Foods Inc., the hospitality group that has built its reputation on the success of Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant and Puckett’s Boat House. Prior to Homestead, Garcia helped successfully launch the Boat House in downtown Franklin, driving an extensive menu of Southern seafood recipes that often drew on his ethnic roots.
Andy Marshall, president of A. Marshall Foods, says Garcia’s passion for creativity, and his knack for marrying culinary traditions, will inspire the Harvest menu moving forward.
“When we approached Carlos over a year ago about the property, he connected with the vision immediately. I am intimately familiar with how he works in the kitchen, and he has continued to prove his genius to me through the years,” Marshall said. “This is a passion project for me. We have put together a team that is invested in the same way.”
A. Marshall Foods also announced that Donnie Counts has been named Kitchen Manager of Harvest. He was formerly the executive chef at GRAY’S on Main, a fine-dining restaurant in downtown Franklin that started under the A. Marshall group’s umbrella.
Counts has overseen kitchens and trained under acclaimed chefs in Colorado, Mississippi and South Carolina. As a kitchen manager, he will also serve as a liaison between Garcia and Homestead’s on-staff organic farmers, helping ensure that the farm can supply the restaurant on a sustainable basis. A native of the Mississippi Delta, Counts says his background serves as a working platform for the eatery’s mission.
“I’ll be using the building blocks I grew up on. It’s about taking simple ingredients and creating dishes that extract their complexities. Diners will see that happen from our farmers’ hands to Carlos’ food,” Counts said.
The Farm at Homestead encompasses 10-plus acres of land and is overseen by Property Director J.T. Ward and Agricultural Curators Joni and Casey McCarty. The 75-plus types of vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits are organically grown in the garden and greenhouse under strict accordance with USDA Organic Certification Regulations.
In addition, an orchard—which was originally part of the ca. 1819 property—will be groomed and harvested, and its fruits used in both the restaurant and the bar.