Meet Our Chefs
Vanderbilt Campus Dining is led by a team of talented and passionate chefs who are dedicated to providing culinary excellence through hand-crafted recipes and high quality service. They are committed to providing value through the best-tasting, most nutritious and diverse menus possible.
Our chefs are the driving force behind Vanderbilt Campus Dining’s many awards and accolades, including Best On-Site Food Service Operation in the Nation, Best Food Service Operator, the prestigious Ivy Award, and many more.
Meet the leaders in our kitchens, the faces behind the delicious and diverse recipes we serve and the ones committed to creating memorable experiences shared around the dining table.
Rothschild & Zeppos Residential Dining Halls
Chef de Cuisine, Doug Best
Born and raised in Olympia, WA, Douglas Best discovered his passion for culinary arts while serving in the military, finding that food brought people together and was a great way to de-stress.
Following the military, he enrolled in the culinary program at The Art Institute in Nashville, TN. After graduation, he honed his skills working in fast-paced gastropub kitchens. Looking for a new challenge, he found himself an opportunity in higher education dining at Vanderbilt. Having worked in multiple capacities across Campus Dining, he now leads the culinary team at Kissam Kitchen, a gluten-free kitchen home to the campus allergen program that provides safe meals to students with potentially life-threatening food allergies.
E. Bronson Ingram Dining Hall
Chef de Cuisine, Audrey Patterson
Audrey L. Patterson discovered her love and passion for food at an early age awakening a dream to become a chef. Born and raised in Jacksonville, FL, Audrey relocated to North Carolina in 2009 and then attended The Art Institute in Durham, NC. It wasn’t until 2014 when she received degree in Culinary Arts that her dream would come to life.
Audrey began working in the culinary industry while attending college and has spent the last 11 years learning from talented chefs in various outlets of the culinary world. She has done banqueting at Durham Convention Center, food trucks, and fine dining at Weathervane at Southern Season.
Prior to joining the staff at Vanderbilt University in December, Audrey spent the last 4 ½ years serving as Sous Chef at Duke University. During her tenure there received many accolades including Number 1 College Foodservice in America-The Daily Meal 2016, Innovator of the year-Foodservice Management Magazine 2017, NACUFS Awards Sustainability Gold Award 2017, and Loyal E. Horton Gold Dining Award Retail Sales 2017.
Audrey’s experience combined with her adventurous attitude towards food helps her design unique menus with signature dishes. She is a proponent of farm-to-table innovations utilizing fresh ingredients to create a distinctive dining experience.
Vanderbilt University Athletics Dining Facility
Chef de Cuisine, Joe Irwin
After getting a degree in literature and philosophy, Chef Joe Irwin decided that food was more important than art and began a long, slow rise through the hospitality industry.
From the humble dish pit of Ruby Tuesday’s, he worked his way to some of the finest restaurants in the South including James Beard Award winners and one of Esquire Magazine’s best new restaurants in the country.
Since returning to Nashville, Joe has been Executive Chef at several independent restaurants and hotels before joining the culinary leadership team at the Vanderbilt. During his 35+ years in food he has won several awards including the Nashville area US Foods Iron Chef competition. When he is not feeding his amazing athletes at Vanderbilt, he enjoys spending time with his incredible wife and two spectacular boys.
Chef de Cuisine, Brian Cochrane
Brian is a native of Middle Tennessee who lives in Franklin. He started his career of professional cooking on Martha’s Vineyard, MA during the Summers of his university years.
After a decade in non-profit work, he returned to the culinary world in 2002. Brian formalized his culinary education as an apprentice under a classically trained French chef. After years of fine dining restaurant and private club positions, he entered the arena of dining service for education.
He has managed dining operations at several private K-12 and post-secondary schools, including University of Arkansas Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute. Brian’s especially enjoys Mediterranean cuisine because the simple preparations allow basic flavors of fresh ingredients to shine.
Chef de Cuisine, Rick Lewis
Rick Lewis was born and raised in California. After graduating High School, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio for four years. He then made it back to California and graduated California Culinary Academy in 1994. He has over 26 years of experience in the corporate and education culinary industry.
Rick loves racing Hawaiian outrigger canoes, playing guitar and golf. He loves to listen to all types of music, but he is partial to the Beastie Boys, Safetysuit, Kenny Chesney and all types of Reggae. He looks forward to living in Nashville for many years to come!
Rand Dining Hall
Chef de Cuisine, Lakendra Davis
Chef Lakendra Davis is an East Tennessee Native. Her journey with food began at a young age watching cooking shows on Food Network. After taking culinary arts classes in high school, a true joy for feeding others was discovered. After attending college, Lakendra relocated to Nashville in 2011. She attended school for culinary arts and graduated in 2014.
Lakendra continued her journey with food through entrepreneurship by starting her own Pop-Up concept at the Nashville Farmers Market. City Farm Company was created in 2016 featuring a farm to fork, locally sourced, and seasonal menu. City Farm Company transitioned into catering with features such as the Danny Seo Magazine, iFundWomen, TN Tourism Guide, Talk of the Town, and Nashville Scene.
Before joining the Vanderbilt team in the Fall of 2022, Lakendra’s journey landed her in the private chef sector. She found much success as a private chef feeding notable public figures and NFL families. In 2021, Chef Lakendra was featured on the Live with Kelly and Ryan Show and Supermarket Stakeout. Lakendra finds a home in her journey through making fresh breads and African influenced cuisines.