Originally from Chicago, Derek Brooks is the Executive Chef of The Hermitage Hotel, Tennessee’s Only Forbes Five Star hotel, and its on-property restaurant, Capitol Grille.
Growing up in a family that enjoyed entertaining, Chef Brooks learned the ins and outs of the kitchen and the importance of incorporating fresh and flavorful produce into simple, delicious fare for in-home gatherings.
Brooks’ first opportunity to step into a professional kitchen came when he was a teenager working as a busboy at a local restaurant. A simple favor of filling in for an absent cook one day led him down a culinary path, and eventually he landed in the kitchen at the Chicago Ritz Carlton. Working under James Beard Award-winning Chef Sarah Stegner, Brooks continued to sharpen his techniques and learn how to utilize the seasonal produce from many local farms at the five-star level.
In 2003, Brooks left the Ritz Carlton to follow Chef Stegner and assist with the opening of her independent restaurant, Prairie Grass Café, in Chicago. He then made his way through kitchens in Washington, D.C. and Vail, CO before spending six years at Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach. He first served as Sous Chef at the fine dining restaurant Andrea, learning traditional Italian cuisine under the guidance of a three-star Michelin Chef Gianluca Re Fraschini. then continued as Banquet Chef, working under Executive Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray. In 2012, Brooks was named Executive Chef of the Pelican Grill Restaurant. where he utilized an open-kitchen chef’s table to showcase locally grown seasonal produce from the nearby Irvnine Ranch.
Chef Derek was most recently part of the pre-opening team at Faena Hotel in Miami Beach, the only independent hotel to receive the highly coveted Forbes Five Stars in the first year of opening. He then joined The Hermitage Hotel team in December of 2017 as Executive Chef of the historic Capitol Grille, where he showcases his passion for utilizing local produce in Nashville’s bustling food scene. He works closely with the Garden at Glen Leven, a two-acre sustainable farm utilized in partnership with The Land Trust for Tennessee.
When Chef Derek is not in the kitchen, he can be found participating in outdoor activities whenever possible, cheering on the Cubs, or honing his photography skills.