Best Chef

Deb Paquette, Zola

We're not the first ones to call Chef Deb tops. She hit Gourmet magazine's list of best restaurants a few years back, and her Zola ranks perennially on the lists of Nashville favorites. But the Mistress of the Extra Ingredient—she's known for using seemingly endless and unrelated flavors, in exquisite hyphenated dishes such as pork chop with raisin-eggplant-almond brown rice, coffee-pomegranate sauce, fig jam, sugar peas and guava butter—struck again this spring at the Scene's inaugural Iron Fork culinary competition. A rose among thorns, Deb out-cooked the boys from Flyte, F. Scott's, Virago and Watermark, as judged by a panel of local foodie luminaries. You can judge for yourself in the romantic confines of her West End eatery, where you'll likely find her husband and co-owner Ernie, the friendliest and most knowledgeable restaurant host in town. —CARRINGTON FOX

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