Rising Star Bartender Kenneth Vanhooser of Le Loup - Biography

Nashville, TN

May 2022

Kenneth Vanhooser has always had an affinity for hands-on creation. He fell in love with screen printing at his Nashville high school, which led him to double majoring in merchandising and design at Tennessee Tech University. Vanhooser went on to have his own company, creating custom screen and fabric designs while working part time at a local honky-tonk bar. After following a girlfriend to New York City, Vanhooser found a bartending job at the Gotham Hotel’s cocktail bar, Tenpenny, and quickly worked his way up to food and beverage manager. In 2013, he followed Restaurateur Chris Cipollone to Piora, where Head Bartender Shinya Yamao exposed him to the precise, delicate art of Japanese bartending. Four years later, Vanhooser reunited with Tenpenny alum Jeffrey Tascarella at The NoMad Bar and their summer Hamptons bar, EMP Summer House.

In 2019, he was offered the beverage manager role at Rising Stars alum Ford Fry’s newest Nashville concept, oyster bar and lounge Le Loup. But when the tornado and COVID-19 pandemic delayed the opening, Vanhooser put his talents to use at rooftop bar L.A. Jackson. He officially joined the Rocket Farm family in 2021, as beverage manager of The Optimist’s Nashville location. Now that Le Loup has opened upstairs, Vanhooser manages the diverse bar program of four Ford Fry concepts, all located within the same East Germantown building: The Optimist, Le Loup, beachy patio bar Jacqueline, and “honky-tonk meets taqueria” Star Rover Sound. Though his medium has changed, Vanhooser remains an artist, consistently creating well-constructed, perfectly balanced cocktails.