Inside Nashville's Little Octopus (And The Brunch Recipes We Can't Get Enough Of)

Plus, three reasons why you should be serving tapas for brunch.

 little octopus nashville

photography by Lisa Diederich


From Sarah Gavigan and chef Daniel Herget comes a bright and airy spot in Nashville's East end, making a splash in its own right. The veggie-friendly eatery, which goes by Little Octopus, skews towards a seafood-inspired menu that boasts a slew of exotically-inspired bites. We caught up with Gavigan and Herget to learn a little bit more about the two, and even managed to snag a few mouthwatering recipes for brunch. Take a look!

 little octopus nashville

photography by Lisa Diederich


Who is someone that inspires you in the culinary world?
Sarah: Dominque Crenn. She came to cook at my restaurant years ago, and she was extraordinary. Her personality, her spirit, and her food. One of a kind.
Daniel: Michel Bras will always be my greatest culinary inspiration!

The best part of what I do is:
Sarah: Making people happy and creating memorable experiences with food
Daniel: Getting to share my favorite memories with people through food.
 
My lunch routine consists of:
Sarah: Chopped salad-aholic. On the weekends, I stock up on all my items and rotate through the week.
Daniel: A raw vegan protein shake and a coffee.
 

 little octopus nashville

photography by Lisa Diederich


Sarah: If I weren’t a chef, I would be a scuba instructor and marine biologist

Daniel: If I weren’t a chef, I would be a personal trainer or pirate (is that still a job?). 

little octopus nashville

photography by Lisa Diederich


I'm 10 times more productive when…
Sarah: I don’t drink, sleep, workout, and drink Bulletproof coffee.
Daniel: I am appropriately caffeinated and I’ve been to the gym in the morning.

Favorite cold-weather dish:
Sarah: Duh…RAMEN.
Daniel: Curried goat with braised cabbage and Johnny cakes.

 little octopus nashville

photography by Lisa Diederich


photography by Lisa Diederich


The best thing I've ever eaten:
Sarah: Fresh uni right out of the ocean.
Daniel: Jerk chicken, sitting in the ocean at the bottom of Dunn's River Falls. Hands down.

Where do you seek inspiration for the things you make?
Sarah: Culture in general. Music, books, magazine, film…they all inspire me.
Daniel: My travels through the Caribbean and my childhood memories.
 
Describe a typical day in your life:
Sarah: I am a planner, so I try to have my whole day planned in advance. Starts with a pot of coffee and emails – I make my plan and fold some laundry while I take phone calls. Then it’s off to the restaurants to work on specials, check in with the staff, and prepare the wine list for Little Octopus. By then, it’s time for line up. After that, I have dinner with my family and then back to service. If I am lucky, I have enough energy for an episode of The Crown when I get home.

Daniel: Wake up, gym, cook, sleep, repeat. All joking aside, the structure of doing the same thing all the time is cathartic.

 little octopus nashville

photography by Lisa Diederich


Sarah and Daniel share the recipes for their ultimate brunch favorites!

little octopus nashville

photography by Lisa Diederich


Cachapas

To Make the Dough

  • 4 cups fresh shucked or canned corn kernels (if using canned, drain well)
  • 1 cup masa
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until a stiff dough forms. Set aside. 

To Make the Nata
  • 1 pound sour cream
  • 3 ounces lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. 

To Plate
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 3 ounces crumbled queso fresco
  • Sunny side up egg
1. Heat a non-stick pan or skillet to medium high heat and add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil.
2. Scoop approximately two 3/4 cup balls of the cachapa dough onto the oiled skillet and press lightly to flatten into a pancake.
3. Cook each side until a golden brown crust has formed, approximately 2-3 minutes per side.  
4. Sandwich the crumbled queso fresco between the corn cakes, top with 2 tablespoons of the nata and a sunny side up egg.

 little octopus nashville

photography by Lisa Diederich


Maduro Cornbread

To Make the Maduro Cornbread Batter

  • 1 1/2 cups creamed corn
  • 2 cups masa
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ lb butter (melted)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup queso Chihuahua (grated)
Beat eggs, sugar, salt, creamed corn, and butter. Fold in remaining ingredients being careful not to overwork the batter. Set aside.

Lime Preserves
  • Zest of two limes
  • 2 limes, pulped and diced
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • 2 ounces agave nectar
  • Pinch of salt
Bring nectar, juice, and pulp to a simmer for 20 minutes. Cool down over an ice bath and fold in lime zest once cooled.

To Plate
  • 10-12 maduro plantains, sliced into ½-inch thick slices
1. Preheat oven to 425F. Grease a 9-inch cast iron pan with nonstick pan spray.
2. Line the bottom of the cast iron pan with the maduro plantains. Add the cornbread batter on top of plantains and bake for 20 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and glaze with lime preserves.

 little octopus nashville

photography by Lisa Diederich


Mofongo

To Make the Lechon

  • 1 1/2 cups agave nectar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • Pork butt, bone-in
1. Bring agave, salt, orange juice, and garlic to a simmer and pour over the pork butt. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. The next day, place pork butt and brine in a roasting pan and cook at 350F until meat pulls off the bone with no resistance. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in its cooking liquid. Pull meat away from bone and shred.

Mojo
  • 1 1/2 cups garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sour orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
1. Poach garlic in olive oil over low heat until soft (you don't want the garlic to take on any color), strain out the oil and reserve.
2. Puree poached garlic, sour orange juice, and salt in a blender until smooth, then slowly stream in reserved olive oil. This sauce will keep for two weeks in refrigerator and is excellent with any grilled meat or seafood.

To Plate
  • 1 pack tostones (twice-fried plantain slicescan be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores)
  • Cilantro, to garnish
1. Fry the tostones in oil heated up to 350°F, until they are golden and crisp.
2. In a separate frying pan, warm 2 ounces of pork for every tostone. Place the fried tostones on a plate and top with the pork.
3. Top each tostone with a fried or poached egg and drizzle with 1 ounce of mojo. Finish with a sprig of fresh cilantro.

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