Before Nashville was filled with cocktail bars, award-winning restaurants and hipster-friendly coffee shops, Deb Paquette was on the culinary scene as the first woman in Tennessee to qualify as a certified executive chef. Three decades later, she’s still there, helming the kitchen at her restaurants, Etch and etc., and mentoring a cadre of chefs along the way.
Her love of ingredients, both in food and cocktails, is evident, as is her love of travel, apparent in her globally inspired menu (and dream of living on a tropical island). Paquette talks about finding a way to squeeze citrus into anything, her growing bourbon collection and what she looks for in a bartender.
What’s your cocktail of choice?
I’m a big grapefruit juice fan—I’m from South Florida; I love it. I’ll drink something with vodkaor tequila with grapefruit … and I’ll usually water it down with a little soda water. I’m not big on mezcal; it’s too smoky and doesn’t go well with grapefruit juice. [Laughs]