Renuka Christoph was looking for a creative way to connect Nashville’s diverse communities when she founded “Nations in our neighborhood“, an ethnic food tour in 2018.
the inclusive project on hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Christoph decided to relaunch it in response to popular demand. On Friday, March 25, from 6-8 p.m., it returns with a launch party at popular German restaurant Bavarian Bierhaus.
For $50.00, guests will pick up a “passport” and take part in a self-guided food tour where assorted dishes from highlighted restaurants can be sampled. If attendees are interested, additional, more appetizing items from restaurant menus can also be purchased.
In addition to Bavarian Bierhaus, the other seven restaurants serving sample plates are Anatolia, Bawarchi Cool Springs, Cafe Coco, Chateau West, Culaccino, McNamara’s Irish Pub and OSH, representing the countries Turkey, India, Italy, France, Ireland and Uzbekistan.
Some of the aforementioned restaurants have worked with Nations in Our Neighborhood before and are looking forward to collaborating again. Hussein Ustunkaya, owner of Anatolia and Chateau West, said the partnership with Nations in Our Neighborhood began after Christoph reached out with an invitation to join about three years ago. One aspect Ustunkaya likes about the events is that it brings people together, “It’s good for Nashvillians and for our neighbors. We’re seeing faces we’ve never seen before.”
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Brigadier General Bob Krumm of the Bavarian Bierhaus venue has also been part of Nations in Our Neighborhood since its inception, “Our vision has always been to bring the feeling of a German Bierhall to Nashville, it’s about getting connecting with each other and creating stories.It’s a great program to give Nashville residents a taste of German holidays and many other cuisines from around the world without leaving Nashville.
Christoph also talked about how important Nations in Our Neighborhood is because he can show how people can travel the world here in Nashville.
First-time participating restaurants, like Cafe Coco, were drawn to Nations in Our Neighborhood because of its goal of making food from a wide variety of different cultures accessible. “With the diversity of Nashville, that was a no-brainer for me,” Cafe Coco owner Nathaniel Peete said when asked about his participation. “We are looking for a long-term relationship with this brand.”
Similarly, Krish Alapati of Franklin-based Bawarchi Cool Springs noted that the establishment is excited to be included in the Nations in Our Neighborhood network because it “connects Nashvillens with diverse restaurants and helps us grow our business”. Alapati looks forward to meeting people of all ethnicities who are also bloggers and food lovers.
“This is designed for culturally conscious foodies looking for something to do in Nashville,” said Christoph, describing Nations in Our Neighborhood. She brought her idea for a global food tour to life with the goal of showcasing various Nashville-based restaurants: “There’s a hunger to connect with people, and I really have a heart for local business.”
Therefore, Christoph also wants to give back to the local community. As a result, Nations in Our Neighborhood is partnering with Sister Cities of Nashville and donating a portion of every ticket sale to the nonprofit organization.
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Sister Cities of Nashville Executive Director Sarah Lingo said the organization is built on person-to-person relationships, so her work with Nations in Our Neighborhood is a natural partnership: “Our mission is to connect people of Nashville to the people of the world and what better way to do that than through food.”
Sister Cities had a program born out of the pandemic in which virtual dinner parties were planned alongside local restaurants. Attendees would pick up their food with reheating instructions, then hop on Zoom to mingle with those in their sister city.
“Food is something that’s really at the heart of cultural exchange,” Lingo said. “My passion in life is to provide everyone with the opportunity to experience a different culture and different people. Shared experiences are what ultimately bring me closer to people, and when you share food, you share experiences.”
Lingo also said Sister Cities is proud to be tied to something very much about connecting the cultures of Nashville and those around the world, because “food is the gateway to learning more about people. “.
Best-selling cannolis from Cafe Coco, tasty samosas from Bawarchi Cool Springs, famous Anatolian hummus and authentic Rouladen from the Bavarian Bierhaus are just a few examples of what customers can expect to enjoy on the evening of Nations in Our Neighborhood launch.
Nations in Our Neighborhood seeks to succeed in promoting unity, and Christoph hopes that a focus on diverse restaurants can encourage more cultural exchange in Nashville: “What’s so rewarding is seeing different people connect , and that’s what I love the most.”