CHEF & FOUNDER SARAH GAVIGAN

In the summer of 2012, Sarah Gavigan returned to her native Tennessee after almost 20 years in Los Angeles and found that Nashville was a ramenless.

Gavigan lasted two ramen-less years before she decided to dedicate herself to learning the craft of making traditional ramen. While helping chef Tyler Brown (formerly of Capital Grill) in the Glen Leven Garden one day, she discovered that the Japanese aromatic Shiso, grew wild in Middle Tennessee.  

Surprised, she dug deeper and found that  Nashville sits on almost the exact same latitude as Tokyo. Many of the same vegetables and flavors were similar. Middle Tennessee is renowned for it's prized country ham, and heritage pigs meant there were hundreds of local farms able to provide bones, which are necessary to make succulent TN Tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen broth. It all made perfect sense. 

After testing recipes with friends, she started doing pop-ups all over town with great success. Finally, in 2014 Gavigan and her husband Brad opened POP Nashville, which housed Otaku South until May 2015. This long journey eventually lead them to what is now Otaku Ramen.