/ CHEF STORIES

Chef Karl Worley

To make good biscuits, bread or dough, it takes quality ingredients. We’re happy that the Karl Worley a.k.a. Biscuit King and his wife, Sarah, recognize that. The Worley’s launched their award-winning restaurant, Biscuit Love out of an Airstream food truck about six years ago in their native Tennessee to much fanfare. Since launching in 2012, they have rapidly expanded, with 3 Metro-Nashville locations, quickly becoming a staple for brunch and sandwiches.

Similar to many successful chefs, Karl grew up around food. His grandfather owned a local convenience store, that had a deli in it, where his mom worked. However, he was 19-years-old when chef Worley moved to Atlanta, that he began to explore his own culinary skills, for the same reason that many guys his age do. “It wasn’t until then that I realized that chicks dig guys who can cook,” he says with a hearty laugh.

After asking his mom how to cook different dishes, Karl realized that he really loved cooking. Even after that epiphany, Karl procrastinated about going to culinary school. It wasn’t until he began dating his would-be wife Sarah, who urged him to take it seriously, that he finally bit the bullet and enrolled.

As any couple who have ever gone into business together can attest to, working together isn’t always easy, but it is rewarding. “It is challenging and rewarding to work with Sarah. When we are working together and everything is working well, it is this amazing synergy that no one can match. We are learning how to do that even 5 years in,” says Karl. “In another 5 years, it’s going to be absolutely amazing.”

Growing pains aside, business is booming for the couple, Biscuit Love was selected as one of the 50 best new restaurants by Bon Appétit in 2015 and the East Nasty Sandwich was selected as their favorite sandwich of that year as well. Whenever an article is written about where to eat breakfast, brunch or lunch in Nashville, Biscuit Love is almost always mentioned.

Karl’s mission with Biscuit Love is to “nourish not only stomachs but souls.” That is evident in the care that he has for his employees. Their goal is to make sure that every employee leaves better than when they came. That mission includes healthcare, a full-time staff care person who is a licensed counselor and working on affordable housing, in addition to many other initiatives. With such caring owners, it’s no wonder that the business has had 10% employee turnover in the last three years. A number that is a rarity in the restaurant business.

Karl and Sarah are also thoughtful about the food that they serve. When asked what his favorite ingredient to cook with is, he mentioned Bear Creek pork and how sustainable and humane the treatment is of the pigs that are raised in the local farm they source the pork for his sausage gravy from.

Even when Karl was asked about the dish he makes, that everyone should try, he immediately gave credit to a southern food legend. “Our shrimp and grits in my mind, are made the way God and Bill Neal intended it to be made,” he says.

For those who are unfamiliar with the late, great Neal, he was a southern chef who had a very famous French bistro. One day he decided he was going to elevate southern food like they had French food. Everyone told him that he was insane, but he did it. Shrimp and grits were on his original menu and although he’s no longer with us, they are still on his restaurant Crook’s Corner’s menu over 30 years later.

It is clear that the chef is meticulous with his preparation, even down to the smallest detail. “We came across Mountain Valley through the Southern Foodways Alliance and fell in love,” he says. “Whenever I walk into a restaurant that serves Mountain Valley, I know they are paying attention to the little details that matter. Those small details set the standard for a great meal and it lets me know the experience is going to be amazing.”

The energy around Biscuit Love harkens back to a time when families sat together for meals and actually talked to each other. That may not be so easy to do on a day-to-day basis anymore, but it’s good to know that Karl and Sarah Worley have created a space that people can enjoy positive family vibes and great food to match.

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