Building off the popularity of last year’s Summer Chef Series, Goo Goo Clusters, LLC, has once more given Nashville chefs the chance put their spin on premium versions of the chocolate-covered Southern staple.
The 2016 Goo Goo Summer Chef Series, which began July 15, highlights the creativity of five chefs who have varying styles and culinary viewpoints, says Beth Sachan, Goo Goo Cluster director of marketing.
“It’s been really a lot of fun and a great way to build relationships with all these other awesome people here in the food community in Nashville,” Sachan says.
Collaboration with Music City foodies is not a new concept for Goo Goo. In 2012, the company celebrated its 100th anniversary by teaming up with more than 40 restaurants, food trucks and cafés to create desserts inspired by the Goo Goo Cluster.
In spring 2015, Dale Levitski, former executive chef of Sinema Restaurant + Bar, approached Goo Goo about creating a treat that would put a sweet, distinctively Nashville conclusion on a dinner he would prepare at the James Beard House in New York City. And so, the Rocky Roadkill Goo Goo Cluster - featuring peanut butter, marshmallow, pretzels, peanuts and potato chips - was born.
Sachan said the partnership with Sinema led to the Summer Chef Series, which in its inaugural year gave seven chefs, including Levitski, the opportunity to develop their “dream Goo Goo.” It also created buzz for company’s new store in downtown Nashville during the typically slow season for chocolate sales.
“It gave us something new to talk about in the middle of summer when maybe not everybody’s thoughts are on chocolate and gave us something, too, to really draw in our local customer base to come to our shop and see what we’re doing there,” Sachan says.
With help from Goo Goo Shop Pastry Chef Bethany Halliger, the following chefs created premium Goo Goos that will be or have been featured in store and online for two-week periods this summer:
Margot McCormak of Margot Café and Marche Artisan Foods, July 15-29
James Peisker and Chris Carter of Porter Road Butcher, July 29-Aug. 12
John Lasater of Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Aug. 12-26
Tandy Wilson of City House, Aug. 26-Sept. 9
Pat Martin of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, begins Sept. 9
McCormak’s treat, the Margoo, kicked off this year’s lineup. The Margoo is made with salted caramel, candied hazelnuts, hazelnut butter caramel ganache and Willa’s Classic Shortbread, all coated in rich dark chocolate.
Peisker and Carter developed Gmom’s Summer Sammie Goo Goo, which was inspired by a grandmother’s sandwich made for boyhood fishing trips. It has a peanut butter and raisin filling, housemade strawberry jelly, strawberries, banana chips and toasted walnuts, all covered in milk chocolate.
Lasater’s Goo Goo, the Goo Goo Cluckster, pays homage to a Nashville favorite: hot chicken and waffles. It’s made with spicy chili ganache, maple syrup caramel, brown sugar maple syrup nougat and Jeni’s Waffle Cone Crunch, all coated in dark chocolate.
Flavors created by Wilson and Martin will be announced in coming weeks. All of the chefs’ Goo Goos will be showcased at the Music City Food + Wine Festival, set for Sept. 17-18. They’ll also be available in store and online through September.