Edible Chat with Chef Brandon Frohne
BRANDON FROHNE grew up on schnitzels—not on biscuits. But growing up in the mountains of East Tennessee, there were lots of them around, and they stuck.
Brandon has a sink or swim mantra toward life and in the kitchen. He calls his crew his pirates—it’s sink or swim mateys. And he has it tattooed on his arm: a lighthouse to help him find his way in life, a bluebird and a diamond for his daughter “bluebird”—they represent all his beliefs in life.
WE CALL OUR FOOD “FINE CASUAL.”
The child of a single mom in East Tennessee who moved a lot, Brandon Frohne didn’t grow up with many silver spoons. He discovered his love of biscuits from a friend’s late grandmother, which proved to be lifechanging. One day when his mom was gone, Brandon skipped school, found a bag of flour, and tried to make biscuits. “They were terrible,” he recalls. “I didn’t understand leavening. They were like rocks.” However, from such humble beginnings, one thing did indeed rise: Brandon’s love affair with food.
To nourish this desire, Brandon had one thing going for him: a Swiss family restaurant on his father’s side—La Cote Basque in St. Petersburg, Florida—a place where his eighty-nine-year-old grandmother still works.
“It’s a traditional place and kind of oldworld,” Brandon shares, “but people love it. Everyone knows each other’s name. We call it the ‘Cheers Effect.’” When Brandon turned seventeen, he moved to Florida to work at the restaurant full time. He eventually left to apprentice at a restaurant nearby.
By 2007, Brandon had arrived in Nashville, learning under Chef Martha Stamps, owner of Martha’s at The Plantation. It was after this experience that Brandon’s biscuit skills really began to rise. In 2012, he founded Forage South, bringing his biscuits to home kitchens everywhere. His fluffy fortunes later continued with a stint at Lowes Vanderbilt Hotel where he helped develop the novel restaurant concept, Mason’s Southern Provisions. This proved to be a good gig, earning Brandon city-wide accolades and back-to-back James Beard invitations.
In 2016, a recruiter for Cracker Barrel came calling. After seeing the brand’s potential, Brandon became fascinated with the biscuit house concept and agreed to the opportunity. While Holler & Dash’s menu was created by Chef Jason McConnell of Nashville, Brandon has helped mold the menu and source local ingredients from artisan partners. The first in our area opened in Brentwood this year.
In addition to refining Holler & Dash’s menus nation-wide, Brandon developed the presence of small local products at each location. The Nashville Jam Company, Trubee Honey, Olive and Sinclair Chocolate, Frothy Monkey, NOLA Granola, and Willa’s Shortbread are all featured in the Brentwood location.
With four Holler & Dash houses keeping him busy, Brandon wasn’t doing much cooking or recipe development. But recently, he’s been given the freedom to explore new menu items. “We’re introducing one called the GooGoo-Q Chicken. We do these smoked chicken thighs that have a buttermilk fennel slaw and then we make a sauce that’s a hybrid between a mole sauce and a red-eye barbecue.” The secret ingredient? Pureed Goo Goo clusters. The Southern sweet provides the chocolate and peanuts traditional to a mole. “Now we have our own secret sauce,” Brandon grins. “My Southern version of a mole. It’s currently in test market in Birmingham.”
Brandon also has some dessert items in the works, one even minimizes food waste. It’s a “Popping Tarts” kind of thing that combines excess biscuit dough—Holler & Dash generates a good bit of it—with jam and Pop Rocks. (Yes, those Pop Rocks—the candy.) Stay tuned.
For now, Brandon is settled in to his new, creative role. But who knows what the future will bring? Culinary talent such as his always rises.
2013 Franklin Rd. Suite 120