Regionally acclaimed, Nashville restauranteurs, husband and wife team Executive Chef Chris Rains and Erica Rains bring their culinary experience to Orlando’s newest dining concept, the Hall on the Yard, with two diverse and delicious concepts.
The Hall On The Yard is a collection of 9 diverse culinary offerings, 5 curated event spaces, 3 premium cocktail bars, showcased in 1 eclectic building.
The Rains are the founders behind The Chef and I, a modern take on approachable gourmet fusing international flavors into beautiful, well balanced dishes and Pasion a new Latin fusion themed restaurant putting new takes on classic Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban fare.
Michael Morrison serves as Chef de Cuisine – formerly Head Chef of Loretta Keller’s Famed Coco500 & Exec Chef of Hiro Sone’s Michelin Starred Ame in SF. He serves alongside Sous Chef Travis Chasteen.
As part of the Hall at the Yard, a development in Ivanhoe Village in downtown Orlando, the restaurateurs will bring some of their home-run menu creations from Nashville and add some other dishes using the best of all the local items. One of the main elements of The Chef and I is to use fresh and local ingredients, highlighting the culture of the local market and bringing Chef Chris Rains’ own unique take on the dishes.
About the Team – Erica and Chris Rains
In 2007, a ‘Love at First Sight’ story began. Executive Chef Chris Rains was cooking for the Nashville Predators NHL hockey team, global superstars in music and entertainment, and thousands of attendees. Erica Rains had recently moved back to her hometown of Nashville, and both had given up on love.
The two were cosmically connected online and on 11-11-07, Chris and Erica met and fell in love and the rest was history. Just months after meeting, The Chef and I catering division was born.
Since then, this power couple has created a multi-million dollar culinary firm with a large catering division, an event venue, a flagship restaurant in the high end downtown Nashville district known as The Gulch, and a strong online division with virtual events, classes and merchandise. The Chef and I on Ninth is known for its interactive nature with the show kitchen, its approachable gourmet food, casual cool atmosphere, the daily chefs’ tasting menus, and incredible cocktails.
Now, The Chef and I comes to Orlando and The Rains’ are excited to become part of the thriving culinary scene that highlights chef-driven concepts like theirs.
Interview with The Chef And I / Pasion owner and executive chef, Chris Rains
Tasty Chomps: What are your inspirations behind the food at The Chef and I? The flavors and ingredients are truly some of the most creative we have seen!
Chef Chris Rains: At a very young age I became intrigued at how texture and depth of flavor can really take any bite to the next level. So, from the first time eating a really crispy fish and chips with a caper Cornichon tartar sauce and a little bit of age small vinegar as a child I have strived to always create that perfect bite. Years later as I entered the chef world, I always keep that in mind. But at the end of the day I like straightforward ingredients, bold flavors and depth with texture and subtle underlying flavors.
What was food in your childhood like? What was the role of food growing up? What are your favorite foods growing up?
My mom was a horrible cook, horrible may be a strong word so let’s use generic instead. Lol. she knows this, as I make reference to it all the time, but in reality my grandmother’s from both sides were fabulous cook’s. My paternal grandmother cooked and moved like a chef in the kitchen and my maternal grandmother had a grasp of all the Classic dishes. Meals for us were always about family, love and seasonal fresh ingredients. Growing up in Seattle we always had fresh Fish, crab, produce and those meals shaped my youth. My favorite foods growing up were strawberries, blackberries, honey, fresh fish and crab.
What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu right now?
The Chef Answer is “the next dish” and that is what excites me about food. But if you stop by and see what we are doing you must have the caramelized cauliflower appetizer, the duck and waffles and the hot salt chicken.
What do you wish people knew about The Chef and I?
That we provide experience in addition to great quality food creations. We offer chefs tastings at our counter and a seat at our show kitchen allows you to converse with our chefs while your meal is being prepared
Tell us about your background and culinary experience before the Chef and I
I started as a dishwasher, I believe every Kitchen employee should. It gives you a respect for that position. I worked my way up all through high school and then ended up landing at a Sheraton hotel. There I realized that being a chef was a career, and I spent the next eight years working my way up to head restaurant chef. After that I had the opportunity to run the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville for 8 years then finished up with the NHL Nashville predators by handling the restaurant and suites for the team. I had the opportunity to cook all around the country and world with that last position which led me to start our own business ventures.
If you could eat any meal for the rest of your life, what would that meal look like?
As a chef I prefer something I can hold in my hand. So that being said give me a kick ass burger or patty melt with crispy toasted bread and a little bit of spice.
Upcoming plans for 2022?
Now that we have hit our stride at the Hall, my plans for this year are to get a little more comfortable being a Floridian and move forward on my wife and I’s next project, that involves an experience driven culinary destination around food. It will be called the Chef And I experience.
Must Try Dishes at The Chef and I
Carmelized Cauliflower with Local Whipped Goat Cheese – pan roasted cauliflower seasoned with fresh herbs and sea salt, served on grilled focaccia crostini, whipped goat cheese, pistachio pesto, candied nuts and local honey
Granny Smith Apple and Arugula Salad – peppery arugula tossed with granny smith apple matchsticks, imported feta cheese, roasted red bell peppers, and candied nuts, tossed in a roasted Fresno chile and local honey vinaigrette – Add a protein (Chicken, Smoked Salmon, Shrimp or Bacon)
House Pimento Cheese and Bacon – our house made pimento cheese blend with gouda and sharp cheddar folded with roasted red bell peppers and garlic spread on focaccia toasts with smoky bacon lardons, sweetened bourbon glaze
Duck and Waffles – crispy skinned farm raised duck breast, cooked medium and sliced over duck fat sage buttered waffles with macerated maple blackberry syrup
Local Pork Sausage and Pimento Cheese Benedict – Free-range Woodsmoke Farms’ pork sausage, pan roasted and served over grilled focaccia with our house made pimento cheese and a white wine beurre blanc. Finished with a sunny side egg
Pan Roasted Beef tenderloin – hand cut beef shoulder tenderloin, seasoned with cracked pepper and sea salt, cooked medium rare and served with whipped Yukon potatoes, smoked charred cherry peppers and a red wine demi-glace
Dark Rum and Fig Ice Cream – a vanilla based ice cream folded with aged rum and dried black mission figs, A Chef and I classic all the way from Nashville, TN *available while supplies last
The Chef and I Orlando
at The Hall on the Yard
1412 Alden Road, Orlando, FL
Thu 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Fri-Sat 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Sun 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am – 5 pm.