Born an Army Brat on the Panama Canal, Lisa Donovan moved to Germany at a young age, where Europe’s honored bread making traditions gave her an early appreciation for the craft. At 14, she and her family moved back to the United States and settled in North Georgia. She studied painting and photography but found herself pouring over old Bernard Clayton Jr. books about artisan and European-style baking in her free time.
Upon earning her BFA, Donovan relocated to Nashville in 2003 where she taught studio art and art history, dabbled in freelance writing, and baked in her spare time. To supplement her writing income, she began waiting tables at Margot in Nashville where for the first time she met a community of people who shared her passion for food. This tight knit group included Tandy Wilson and Anne Kostroski, at the time Margot’s executive chef and pastry chef, respectively, who gave Donovan her first opportunity to work in a kitchen.
When Wilson and Kostroski moved on to open their own restaurant, City House, Donovan joined them as an assistant in the new pastry department with a vision to expand the program beyond breads. In less than six months, she was promoted to Head Pastry Chef, where she spent a further two and a half successful years until her departure in 2010.
Soon after, Donovan’s former employer Margot called in need of a pastry chef and offered her a chance to make the kitchen her own. She accepted and stayed for two fulfilling years before switching gears to spend more time working on her writing and spending time with her two young children. During this time, Donovan began to develop a pop-up restaurant concept, akin to the smaller, community-style suppers she had read about in New York and San Francisco. She fell in love with the concept of a weekly gathering with friends and strangers, and so Buttermilk Road Sunday Suppers were born. The response in Nashville was overwhelmingly positive and Donovan continues to host her gatherings semi-regularly. The Sunday Suppers have started traveling across the country, with events planned in New York, New Orleans, San Francisco and Los Angeles, creating the opportunity, again, for Donovan to return to her inherent passions of travel and writing.
In 2011, Donovan learned about Husk Charleston and was inspired to reach out to Chef Sean Brock about their shared obsession with antebellum recipes and techniques. They exchanged a series of emails and phone calls about food, and as Brock prepared to open Husk Nashville, he knew Donovan was the obvious choice for pastry chef. She eagerly accepted the position. Through Husk, and alongside Brock, Donovan has risen to the opportunity to grow as a leader in classic Southern baking techniques.
Donovan currently oversees Husk’s pastry department both in Nashville and Charleston.