The Mockingbird, a modern diner serving up global fare and delicious fun, is led by the talented culinary duo of executive chef Brian Riggenbach and front-of-house extraordinaire Mikey Corona. Inspired by the restaurant’s namesake, Brian has created The Mockingbird’s menu to mimic its surroundings, offering comfort food favorites influenced by the many global elements that make up American culture and cuisine. He has crafted the menu so that no two dishes are alike, pulling inspiration from the country’s melting pot of cultural diversity to create a truly exciting menu of varied flavors. The restaurant plays with a special sense of whimsy that is evoked in Brian’s menu. Playful in nature, each dish at The Mockingbird is a nod to the experience that Brian and Mikey want their diners to have. Come on in and see us y’all!
Mikey, born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, was highly influenced by his Tex-Mexican family cooking, a staple in his home throughout his childhood. His background in graphic design as well as his flavorful upbringing is what adds such flare to The Mockingbird.
With an insatiable focus on food during his formative years, Mikey’s first job was destined be in the hospitality industry. In high school, he worked at a restaurant at the ripe age of 15 as a “ceramic sanitation engineer” – a.k.a. dishwasher – and then quickly moved up the ranks to “lead leaf vegetable attendant” – a.k.a. salad boy. Within a year, he was a server assistant. It was a high school student’s dream…NOT! However, Mikey learned how the business was run from the belly up early on. He has always had an appreciation for the true team effort it takes to operate a successful restaurant.
Mikey moved to Houston while still a teenager to pursue a “larger, city way of life.” At this time, he was introduced to art through his colorful surroundings, his newfound friends and his Mexican stepmother Angela.
After a brief stint in Boston, Mikey landed in Laredo, Texas / Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Here, he learned about and honed in on true Mexican lifestyle. The vivaciousness of the public markets, food cooking on street corners, bright colors of art lining the streets – this all fed Mikey’s ultimate goal of always embracing this liveliness in whatever city he called home. After graduating from Columbia College Chicago with a B.F.A. in Ad Art Direction, while simultaneously working for a top restaurant in Windy City, Mikey met Brian and they became partners in business and life. Their success with Yo Soy Underground Supper and Brian’s win on Season 24 of “Chopped” led them to Nashville in 2016 to open The Mockingbird.
Brian was born in Illinois, raised in Naples, Florida and has traveled the world entrenching himself in global cuisines and fine arts. He moved to Nashville from Chicago in 2016 to open The Mockingbird.
Food has always been a central tenant in Brian’s life, from the earliest days of curiosity in picking fresh strawberries to more complex incarnations later on. Beginning at a local restaurant in Florida washing dishes, Brian moved up the ranks gradually until serving at some of Chicago’s best restaurants.
By working closely with the professionals he has met along the way, Brian created an ad hoc university of life. He studied fine wines, foods, techniques and methodology that propelled him to the to where he is today. The underlying chemistry and art of food has driven him to delve into the reasoning, philosophy and soul of food. Along with his interest in food arose a deep and passionate resonance with the fine arts that always shines through in his culinary creations.
Brian studied at Florida State University, independently in Paris and Northern Italy, then formally again at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The connections between the fine arts and cooking arise from a passion to create and share, through color, texture, taste and smell.
Brian had the chance to showcase his skills on Season 24 of the Food Network’s award-winning show “Chopped.” He not only walked away the victor, he also reconnected with long-time friend Maneet Chauhan and the concept for The Mockingbird was born.