2018 Talent

Joshua Simpson

Chef, Proper Bagel

Chef Joshua Simpson, a Mississippi native, developed his passion for all things food at a very young age. His childhood was that of a true southerner; harvesting and sourcing his family’s food from the abundant land they lived on. His grandparents taught him how to farm, fish, and raise cattle, as well as having him join them in the kitchen to assist in the preparation of every meal. He became an integral part of cooking and baking with both his grandmothers. When it came time to bake cakes and pies, he would gather figs from their surrounding fig trees or other ingredients for the fillings. This was a process he enjoyed thoroughly, as it sparked his creativity and proved to be the birth of his keen sense of using only the freshest, seasonal ingredients in his preparation.

Chef Simpson made his way to the West Coast, continuing his journey in seeking out the freshest, locally sourced ingredients. He studied culinary arts in San Francisco at the California Culinary Academy, an Le Cordon Bleu affiliate. Immediately after which, he spent several years exploring the bay area and eventually landing in Napa and Sonoma Valley.

Chef Simpson’s southern roots brought him back to Tupelo, Mississippi to launch and become the Executive Chef of a new Hilton Hotel for an eight year stint, where he catered events for the likes of First Lady Laura Bush, Reba McEntire, Lance Bass, Michael Oher and Billy Currington. Overseeing the detail of every aspect of these large events, was the culmination that led him to study themeticulous art of confections. He attended Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Chicago under the tutelage of Jerome Landrieu and Vincent Pilon.

He was drawn to the burgeoning culinary scene in Nashville, where he combined his love for creativity and design with the farm to table movement. He launched, Twisted Fig, a luxury cake and chocolate design company which boasts clients like the hit ABC TV show, Nashville. One of Twisted Fig’s greatest achievements was re- creating a Sylvia Winestock eight tier wedding cake separated by floating sugar flowers.

His attention to detail and precise hands, a necessity in the art of cake and chocolate design provided the foundation and passion for creating impeccably plated savory dishes, which he is celebrated for.

This past November, Chef Simpson collaborated with the Speranza family and joined them on their new business concept in Nashville,The Proper Bagel. Proper Bagel is a modern, conceptual eatery with a laid-back, chic vibe. Hailing from New York, the Speranza family brings with it over 35 years of experience in the lost art of kettle boiling bagels and traditional baking. Inspired by Nashville’s culinary creativity Chef Simpson with his skill for mouthwatering presentation, alongside the Speranza family, are committed to delivering old school flavors with a new school edge. After opening their doors in January, Proper Bagel has become a favorite for locals and northeast transplants alike.