Karen-Lee Ryan - Founder & CEO of Walk Eat Nashville
Walk Eat Nashville founder Karen-Lee Ryan is a lifelong explorer and storyteller. She moved to Nashville in 2005 after falling in love with the city during a cross-country road trip to find a new place to live. Nashville’s creativity and collaborative spirit drew her in like a warm embrace.
Despite her love affair with Music City, she relocated to San Antonio, Texas, in 2012. She couldn’t pass up the opportunity to become a newspaper executive—the culmination of a 15-year career in digital and print media. But, she left her heart in Nashville and returned after 18 months. She launched Walk Eat Nashville in October 2014 to share her passion for her adopted hometown.
Karen-Lee was recently inducted into Les Dames d’Escoffier, a philanthropic society of women in food, wine and hospitality. She’s also a Platinum Ambassador for The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. Before delving into hospitality, she was a frequent contributor to The Washington Post and also wrote for National Geographic Traveler, Backpacker, Shape and other magazines.
She was part of the Tennessean news team recognized as a Breaking News Finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. And she helped launch websites for Microsoft, Marriott and other Fortune 500 companies. Her most rewarding work yet? Introducing folks to the people, places and dishes that make Nashville such a dynamic place to live and visit.
Kate knew she had a passion for food as early as five when she proudly proclaimed her favorite food as "Avocado and Crab Meat Salad!" Her friends gave her quizzical looks as they still hadn't ventured past the blue box mac and cheese or pepperoni pizza.
Kate moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University and has called Music City her "home away from home" ever since. She’s been an unofficial Nashville food tour guide to friends and family for years.
She spent five years at Country Music Television (CMT) and learned the beauty of a well-executed plan. She managed everything from pre-production and initial creative pitches to post-production and project wrap up. You can still catch her sprinting through downtown with a headset on each November, working on the annual CMA Awards.
Her strategic nature and penchant for adrenaline were an ideal fit to help propel growth at Walk Eat Nashville. Now, she’s combining her knack for operations and love of food at Walk Eat Nashville as Operations Specialist and Guide. When she isn't working, you can find her hanging out in her beloved neighborhood East Nashville, or scoping out the best happy hours and brunches around Nashville.
A food, drink and travel writer, Chris Chamberlain has lived in Nashville his entire life, except for four years in California where he studied liberal arts at Stanford University and learned how to manipulate chopsticks.
He is a regular writer for the Nashville Scene and its “Bites” food blog, as well as Nashville Lifestyles magazine. Chris is the Southern correspondent for FoodRepublic.com and often writes travel pieces for Thrillist and GetawaysForGrownups.com, while serving as a local editor for Google, Zagat, Conde Nast Traveler and The Local Palate. Several national television shows have sought his expert opinions, including Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Eat Street, Unique Eats and Best in Chow. And, Chris has judged more culinary and cocktail competitions than he can remember.
His travel guide and cookbook, The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat before You Die and The Recipes That Made Them Famous was released in 2012 by Thomas Nelson Publishing. The sequel The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig was released in 2014, the same year History Press published his book “Nashville Beer: A Heady History of Music City Brewing.”
Despite the fact that his doctor follows him on Twitter and occasionally offers unsolicited advice about his lifestyle choices, Chris has been known to drive more than three hours for a barbecue sandwich. Smoked meat is a passion—to travel for, to cook at home and to judge as a professional KCBS-certified judge.
Nashville guide and trainer, Ad Hudler grew up in a five-generation newspaper family on the high plains of eastern Colorado. After living in several small American cities while raising a daughter and writing novels, he moved to downtown Nashville in 2009, before it bustled with Airbnbs and bachelorettes.
Ad is a former lead concierge of Omni Nashville, the city’s largest four-diamond hotel. In addition to leading Walk Eat Nashville tours, he trains hotel staff and other Music City hospitality professionals on Nashville's culinary and entertainment venues.
He's written four internationally-published novels with Random House, most of them with food prominently featured in the prose. Though he tries to sample every new Nashville restaurant, he prefers to cook at home -- and he knows the city's ethnic grocery stores better than most.
He likes Korean food, crunchy fried chicken, museums, hiking and any cocktail made with a dry London gin. ("Leave gin to the Brits, please. No one makes it better.") An avian enthusiast, he and his wife of 25+ years are on a quest to hike to every waterfall in the state of Tennessee.
A former photojournalist and current food stylist, writer, podcast host and guide, Hannah Messinger has done so many things within the food industry that it’s hard for her to answer the question “what do you do?”
Here is a short list of things she now gets to call accomplishments instead of career failures because she's in her 30’s, not her 20’s: professional cake decorator, food blogger, recipe developer, director of production at a design firm, food photographer, restaurant group branding specialist, marketing department content creator, pop-up dinner series host/cook. Her work has been featured in Food & Wine, Food 52, Edible Nashville, The Tennessean, Nashville Lifestyles, Native Magazine, and The Huffington Post, among others. These days she only claims the titles food stylist, writer, people feeder and podcast host. Her podcast, Pantry Raid, helps home cooks make more food and less waste without a recipe, one ingredient at a time.
Hannah lived in East Nashville for more than six years, but now spends most of her time in her quiet suburban rancher with her geriatric dog and bread-making partner.
Nancy Vienneau expresses her passion for food wearing many hats: chef, recovered caterer, food educator and activist, writer and cookbook author.
A New York transplant to Nashville as a child, she began cooking professionally in 1980. Twenty-five years and ten thousand cream cheese brownies later, she sold her catering company to turn her attention to food writing and education. She has worked in her community promoting local farmers, urban gardens, healthy affordable cooking, and food security.
She is an active member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a philanthropic organization mentoring women in food, fine beverage, farming and hospitality.
Food is at the heart of her stories and poetry. Her work appears in Alimentum:The Literature of Food, Relish Magazine, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Tennessee Craft Beer Magazine, Edible Nashville, her weekly restaurant column for The Tennessean and her blog Good Food Matters. In 2014, Harper Collins published her first cookbook, the Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook, based on a delectable monthly gathering she co-hosted with a local urban farmer.
Downtown Nashville holds a special place in her heart. She ran a small cafe in its warehouse district back when it was populated with artists and urban pioneers and the riverfront still had a barge building company. She’s been amazed to see its trajectory of growth and is excited to share the melding of the old and the new of our city.
Growing up in a military family, Pam Windsor lived all over the world and as a child remembers the fascination of trying new and different types of food in places like Turkey, Greece, Germany, Taiwan and more. She discovered early on that food can teach so much about the history, culture and lifestyle of a place and the people living there. Today, as a travel writer for print and online publications, she makes sure food takes center stage in many of her articles.
Before becoming a writer for magazines and newspapers, she spent two decades as a reporter, anchor and producer at TV stations in Virginia and Kentucky. She also worked as a writer/producer at CNN International in Atlanta.
Her love of Nashville came during many years visiting her brother, who played pedal steel guitar for some country music artists. She enjoyed the music, the people, their friendliness and, of course, the food! Despite her brother leaving the music business and the city, she decided to move to Music City.
She’s immersed herself in everything Nashville ever since, writing about food, music, travel, and lifestyle for various publications. She enjoys working as a tour guide to showcase some of the very best of what this city has to offer. She’ll tell you, there’s nothing like downtown Nashville!