Born in Central America and raised between South Georgia and Germany, Lisa Donovan grew up with a variety of cultural and culinary experiences. She studied art history and painting, formally, but developed a love and appreciation of food, not only through her travels, but also by working in restaurants and kitchens since the age of seventeen.
Her love of artisan bread baking grew as an art student. Studying the books of Maggie Glezer and Bernard Clayton, Jr. fed a deep desire and passion to recreate the food she ate as a child growing up in Europe.
Eventually, feeding people homemade pastries and breads became such an active part of her life that she later began hustling all number of special order baked goods to her neighbors and community out of her third floor walk up apartment kitchen in Nashville.
She began working as a server at Margot Café and Bar, a Nashville landmark highly revered for introducing Nashville to farm to table dining long before it was a common term in any city outside of San Francisco. There, she learned about food culture in the same way she learned about the art world. Margot McCormack was a deeply challenging chef and gave Lisa an education that spawned a great enthusiasm in her basic love of the craft. At Margot Café, Lisa met her first Chefs, Tandy Wilson and Anne Kostroski. After a short tenure as assistant Pastry Chef, she went on to proudly serve as the Pastry Chef of Tandy’s restaurant City house. She credits City House as the place she developed her voice and style as a distinct Southern baker and is the place she credits for a great amount of her professional merits.
She went on to focus on her writing projects and to start the graciously welcomed pop-up Buttermilk Road Sunday Suppers. Conceptually, these Suppers were small, intimate menus that allowed strangers in the same city to come sit and revel in a family style meal with their community over beautiful wines and local foods prepared by Lisa and an array of guest chefs. The Suppers traveled to NYC, Atlanta, San Francisco and many other cities. Occasionally, a Sunday Supper will pop up per request of friends, but otherwise have retired.
Eventually, a relationship and conversation started up with Sean Brock. Their passion for story telling in food became such a deep connection that he invited her to become his Pastry Chef for Husk Nashville. She went on to oversee both Husk pastry kitchens, in Nashville and Charleston, and became known for her trademark of serving old recipes in new ways and ending a fine and elegant meal with pie and church cakes.
Lisa is currently writing her first book, consulting and freelance writing for publications like Food and Wine, King Arthur, Savuer, Southern Living and more. She lives in East Nashville with her husband, ceramic artist John Donovan and their two kids Joseph and Maggie.