They say that life is like high school. If that’s true, and Nashville really is just a cool campus with an especially great music program and a righteous athletics department (Titan up!), then Sunny and Butch Spyridon are most certainly our Prom Queen and King.
The Spyridons are very much people-people (they’d be a shoo-in to win the “Friendliest Couple” if our general elections ever decided to support campaigns for superlatives). By all appearances, they are equally comfortable driving the welcome-wagon that greeted the 600,000 visitors who descended on downtown Nashville during April’s record-breaking NFL draft — which, it must be mentioned, would not have happened were it not for the hard work of Butch, who is president of the Convention & Visitors Corp — as they are hosting an intimate group of neighborhood friends in their home.
In March, A Moveable Feast dropped in on one of their smaller gatherings: a springtime dinner at their home on Granny White Pike, where they had gathered a warm and spirited group of pals for drinks and a light dinner.
“Butch and I both are pretty casual people,” said Sunny, who is very involved in the Nashville community as a volunteer. ”Especially when we’re at home, we like comfort and ease. And when you’re here, we want you to feel the same way.”
The evening’s meal came courtesy of chef Matthew Mosshart, of Two Spoons. Matthew was right at home in the Spyridon kitchen, having cooked there many times before: his partner is Sunny and Butch’s daughter, Alyssa. (The party was a true family affair for Matthew: his sister, Alison, was also in the house.) “When Matthew is in our kitchen cooking, everything feels right in the world,” Sunny said.
The dinner format was light bites, a nod to Sunny and Butch’s proclivity for eating toward the top of a menu. Translation: they are all about the apps.
“I believe this must have started 21 years ago, on our very first date,” she said. “We have both always loved to have food for the table to share, whether it’s just the two of us or a large group. Our closest friends know that if they go out to eat with us, Butch will ‘take a lap around the appetizer menu.’ Plus, we always have snacks at home. I can throw an appetizer platter together at the drop of a hat.”
This time, she left that pleasure up to Matthew, who curated a menu of foods that could be eaten by hand or from a small plate, ranging from a gorgeous spread of dips and light veggie dishes to shrimp rolls and slices of beef tenderloin. Folks started the party gathered around the dining room table and in the kitchen (and, ok: the bar area). Some never moved, sticking to their comfortable posts throughout dinner, only moving slightly during breaks in their conversations, to reach over the table for another bite. Others drifted outside, where a fire crackled in a backyard pit.
Sunny and Butch’s besties are a diverse bunch, reflecting the broad scope of the couple’s histories and interests. This dinner party included business leaders and budding creative entrepreneurs, media chiefs and fashion professionals — even a rock star or three. And to get there, none of them had to stray too far from home.
“We are lucky to have so many of our dearest friends live so close to us,” Sunny said. “With everyone’s schedules being so busy these days, there are plenty of impromptus — last-minute dinners, a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning, coming over for a game, or just to be together. We watch out for each other. We celebrate each other. We are family!”
At The Table
Brooke Baxter, Chris Caputo, Julie Caputo, Ceri Hoover, Craige Hoover, Jessie Followill, Nathan Followill, Wes Marshall, Erin McCarley, Alison Mosshart, Barbara Moutenot, Roger Moutenot, Tim Nichols, Becca Sudduth, Steve Sudduth, KS Rhodes, Darren Potuck, Tamara Potuck, Stacie Standifer.
In The Kitchen
Chef Matthew Mosshart of Two Spoons Catering & Events
Sunny’s early spring tablescape was a splendid mix of old and new spiked with fresh seasonal greenery. “I like a nice mix of pieces that are mismatched,” she says. Many of the vintage piece are heirlooms from her Greek mother-in-law, who loved to entertain. “She gifted me the Spyridon silver, the white dishes, and the stemware years ago. Some pieces were her mother’s. I use it as often as possible. I do not believe that you should just bring out the good stuff for special occasions. Any time is the right time!”
Arugula, Delicata & Prosciutto Salad
Sourdough breadcrumbs, Manchego, lemon vinaigrette
Marinated Heirloom Tomato & Fennel
Chile, mint, sesame
Dips, Chips & Veg
Whipped feta, smoked trout dip, black olive tapenade, West Indies crab
Spiced pita chips, parmesan croutons
Toasted roll, pickles, lemon, horseradish
Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Green beans, garlic, herbs
Flourless Chocolate Torte
Strawberry sugar, whipped cream
Marinated Tomato Salad
4 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into cubes
½ bulb fennel, thinly shaved
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
1 teaspoon white toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black toasted sesame seeds
Handful mint leaves, torn by hand
In a bowl, gently mix the tomatoes, fennel, fish sauce, and grapeseed oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl or plate. Garnish with Aleppo, sesame seeds and mint.
Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin
1 trimmed beef tenderloin (2-4 pounds)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Tie tenderloin at 1-inch intervals using butcher’s twine. Season with salt. Place on wire rack over a baking sheet tray and refrigerate uncovered for to 2 days or up to a week. Preheat oven to 225°F. Season tenderloin with black pepper. Place tenderloin in oven and roast, using a meat thermometer pull out tenderloin when internal temperature reads 120°F to 125°F, about 2 to 3 hours. To finish, preheat grill or broiler to high heat, sear and turn each side to produce a charred surface. Let tenderloin rest 15-30 minutes before serving. Slice to desired thickness.