Sometimes ideas come in an instant, as if out of thin air. Other times, they are products of years worth of thoughts and dreams. For Dan Stephenson, the idea to create Dan’s Gourmet “Mac Pacs,” his own line of Macaroni and Cheese, had been years in the making. Stephenson loved the dish from a young age—it was his favorite childhood meal—and Mac and Cheese eventually became the first food his mother taught him to cook on his own.
Stephenson’s creativity was born out of making (and sometimes fighting over) gourmet versions of Blue Box Mac and Cheese with his brother, Jamie. So, of course, it only seemed natural to take that passion for cooking excellent gourmet Mac and Cheese to a professional level.
Stephenson began selling Dan’s Gourmet two years ago at the Nashville Farmer’s Market. The initial recipe, Dan’s Gourmet Original: Dan’s Mac Attack consists of habanero garlic sausage, red peppers, red onions, three cheeses, and a breadcrumb topping over bowtie pasta. The best news is that the 18-ounce meals for two are made with all natural ingredients—including flavorful meats, fresh vegetables, and cheese sauces from a roux.
For two years, Stephenson and his girlfriend were able to handle the cooking all themselves. However, as we’re sure you can tell by the delicious ingredients, Dan’s Gourmet has grown so popular that Stephenson has partnered with Chairmans Foods for production. Stephenson just recently debuted his line to the gourmet community last June at the Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington DC, where the response was very positive.
When we heard about these delectable Mac Pacs we immediately asked where we could find them around town. Thankfully, you have to look no further than Product Place on Murphy Road in Sylvan Park to find all five varieties of Dan’s Gourmet’s fresh-frozen artisan Mac and Cheese. If you don’t have the time to make a trip to the store, you can also buy Stephenson’s items on the Dan’s Gourmet website and have them delivered to your door.
Of course, we couldn’t talk to Stephenson without discussing our favorite topic—Nashville! Stephenson, a Vanderbilt graduate, originally stayed in town post-grad for a local job opportunity. Now that he is in the entrepreneurial world, though, he sticks around because he believes in the growth and direction of the city.
Stephenson lives in The Gulch and enjoys the “community vibe” of The Terrazzo and the surrounding area. He loves being in a central location where he can easily walk to stores and restaurants or take the Green Line electric bus to Broadway or to attend a concert at the Ryman.
We also asked Stephenson for restaurant recommendations (who better to trust than a gourmet Mac and Cheese chef?) and he suggested City House and Flyte, as they consistently prepare food better than Stephenson thinks he could make at home. As you can see, our local Nashville artisan hasn’t let success get to his head. He still enjoys sitting back and appreciating food prepared by other chefs every now and then.
From a little boy who loves Mac and Cheese to the founder of Dan’s Gourmet, it is clear to us that if you have an idea and you put your mind to it, you may be surprised where the journey can lead you.
Thanks for tuning in to our Local Artisans blog series! Last Week: Jon Dalman of Dalman Supply Company. Next week: Johnathan Crocker of Peter Nappi | Want to stay connected? Like us on Facebook + follow us on Twitter and Instagram. And, as always, check out our current homes for sale in the Nashville area.