I don’t cook, so I don’t really know much about Paula Deen, other than that she really likes butter, and that her pants fell down on live TV one time. So, when presented with the opportunity to interview her for her Aug. 27 appearance at TPAC, I thought, hey, I just might learn something!
When corresponding with her people, they initially requested an email interview, which I politely declined, because those are no fun. As Deen’s people are clearly accustomed to putting out fires that happen outside the kitchen, they are now on in full fire prevention mode. They acquiesced to a phoner if I presented the questions in advance. Now, that's not so out-of-the-ordinary with interviews; I understand a subject wanting to know what ground will be covered so he or she is adequately prepared, but it was the following caveat that made me a little wary:
"We do kindly request that you keep all questions focused on Paula Deen Live! and the Paula Deen Network — nothing about the past."
This incited a flashback to my senior year in high school, when the principal asked to see my graduation speech a week before the ceremony.
“If you even stray one word from this speech,” she warned me, looking me dead in the eye, “I will cut the microphone. No funny business, Abby.”
I had recently been nearly arrested for underage drinking in one of Peoria’s fine public parks and was at risk of losing a college scholarship, so I wasn’t about to rock the boat. But nearly 20 years later, I still bristle when someone tells me I can’t talk about something. That being said, I must still fear the wrath of my high school principal — or maybe Paula Deen's people — because I decided not to talk about Anthony Bourdain, diabetes or Southern plantation-style weddings. Besides, there is plenty of other stuff to chat about with the Queen of Butter, right?
Paula called me from her home in Savannah, and throughout our brief convo, I did manage to learn something quite scandalous without having to approach any of the aforementioned subjects. Nashville, Paula Deen has NEVER tried hot chicken. Not only that, it didn't even sound like she'd heard of it. Friends, we cannot let this slide. When she's in town, can somebody please stage a hot chickenvention?
We also chatted about her new digital network that's launching this fall, how she and Dolly should be friends, why potatoes are awesome, and the time she thought sweetbreads were cinnamon rolls, after the jump.
McCormack is one of dozens of prominent women profiled by writer Jennifer Justus in this week's Nashville Scene cover story, titled, "A Woman's Place: Saluting the Female Chef, Restaurateurs and Food Professionals Smashing Through Nashville's Iron Ceiling."
It's a great read, and one of the many points that comes out is that women in the restaurant industry work very, very hard. And they tend to support each other. And their bedrock presence in the restaurant world is not always represented in national media (e.g. the controversial Time magazine story in November called "Gods of Food," which presented an Olympus of culinary professionals, but not one female chef).
Let Justus' story be something of a corrective, presenting a pantheon of women who are helping make Nashville's restaurant scene one of the most vibrant in the country.
And be sure to pick up a print copy so you can get the full effect of Eric England's panoramic photos of 25 of these home-grown food deities in one place.
Patrons of pioneering 12South establishment Rumours were devastated when the construction of mixed-use development 12 South Flats forced a relocation of the beloved wine bar to the Gulch. Rumours reopened in the bottom of the Icon building in early 2013 (to positive reviews), and now the restaurant is now experiencing another evolution. Christy Shuff, who opened Rumours Art Gallery in 2002 and nurtured it through subsequent transitions (to Rumours Wine Bar in 2004) and expansions (Rumours East opened in 2007; it now has separate ownership), is departing the business to pursue other projects.
Shuff's business partners, Jenn McCarthy and Tammy Baker, will continue to run the Gulch location, which will retain the current staff, including Shuff's sister, who is a server.
Shuff alerted the Scene to the change via email:
Sure enough, in the latest, most bizarre episode of Nashville's "It Cityness," the October 2013 Chefwear catalog features Nashville culinary professionals as models throughout the book, and that is Hal Holden-Bache of Lockeland Table on the cover. Among the dozens of other locals included in the book are Martha and Pat Martin of Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint wearing pomegranate and flying pig pants respectively. (Or perhaps, lack of self-respectively in Pat's case ...) Will Borden, the kind man who clears your table at Arnold's, looks snappy in a royal blue short-sleeve chef jacket, and his boss Rose Arnold looks fetching in a purple coat and yoga pants.
Etch is represented by pastry chef Megan Williams, sous chef Kenji Nakagawa and executive chef Deb Paquette, who is also the featured chef on Chefwear's website. Flipping through the pages reveals jaunty photgraphs of other young local talent like Matthew Lackey of Flyte and Jason McConnell from Red Pony, 55 South and Cork and Cow. The photographer must have been particularly enamored of Lockeland Table's Nathan Wells, because he's all over the book.
You don't have to be a pro to buy and use these togs and clogs. Anybody can order from Chefwear's website. I may have to buy me one of these "In the Weeds" T-shirts for when I get behind on deadlines ...
You may know Brian, who lives in Inglewood with his wife Angie and their daughters Audrey and Abigail. Brian has been a bartender at Margot Café & Bar for seven years, so he knows a thing or two about putting ingredients together. And now he’s won some serious bragging rights in the local food world — as the lone winner of a "triple crown" of East Nashville cooking competitions. To make it even more amazing, he won each of the contests on his first try.
His first victory was in the inaugural chili competition at 3 Crow Bar in October, which he says was the brainchild of his friend Wayne Hannon. “A few guys were talking big game about whose chili was the best,” Jackson recalls. Well, Brian showed them, beating out nearly 20 competitors to win first place.
Jackson admits that he’s always had his eye on the Amateur Cooking Contest at the Music City Hot Chicken Festival, so that was a no-brainer to tackle this July 4th.
“It’s something that has been on my mind for a couple of years,” Jackson says. “With pressure from my friend Matt Schaaf, I put together a team with him and Wayne.”
When Jackson and his team, the Atomic Yardbirds, tied for first in the hot chicken contest, he knew he had to go for the Triple Crown by entering the Tomato Art Fest Bloody Mary Competition on Aug. 9, a win that he says he is still “grinning from ear to ear” about.
(If you're interested in trying the Atomic Yardbirds' food, you're in luck. They're doing a residency at The 5 Spot in the Five Points neighborhoood of East Nashville, serving up hot chicken on the patio on Mondays.)
More from Bernie:
My organic blueberry farm (picked as the model operation by the UT School of Agriculture in 2012) is overflowing with ripe, sweet and bountiful berries NOW. My farm is in northwest Maury County, about 12 miles south of Leiper's Fork. I allow folks to pick by appointment only, and I am happy to schedule folks from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
My berries are $15/gallon U-pick and $25/gallon if I pick and deliver them to Nashville and surrounding areas. My berries are now being featured in Martha Stamps' catering operation and are attracting loads of pickers who appreciate fresh organic fruit. I need loads more pickers NOW. For more information or to schedule a visit, call me at 931/682-2864.
Yes, Nashville. Though spun sugar has been around for hundreds of years, the electric cotton candy machine was invented in 1897 by a Nashville dentist, William Morrison, with the help of his candymaking partner, John C. Wharton. The two patented the machine two years later and then made a big splash at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. They sold their “fairy floss” for a quarter, which was quite expensive at the time; you could get about two dozen eggs for that price.
Though the Nashville candymaker/dentist made a lot of money at the World’s Far, it was yet another dentist, Joseph Lascaux from New Orleans, who popularized the name, “cotton candy.” He invented a similar machine in 1921, called his product cotton candy and sold it through his dental practice. In 1951, a company called Gold Medal Products began manufacturing a reliable and automated machine that made it cotton candy more affordable, accessible and, of course, widely available.
Nowadays, you can rent commercial cotton candy machines (not advised on a windy day, as I know from experience) and even buy a small one for home use. As for Dr. Morrison, though he didn’t make it big as a cotton candy mogul, he worked on other inventions, including a process for extracting oils from cotton seed for lard substitute and a chemical process to purify the public drinking water for Nashville. He later became president of the Tennessee State Dental Association and was known for civic involvement.
The Cook: Tallu Schuyler Quinn. I had a blast talking with Quinn, executive director of The Nashville Food Project, a nonprofit that taps up to 600 volunteers a month to help feed 2,400 meals a month to folks coping with poverty. The volunteers glean produce and other staples from stores, gardens and farmers across the Nashville area; they prep those ingredients and cook them up into hearty meals; they load the food onto two catering trucks; they head to various neighborhoods where there’s a need; and finally, they serve fresh, wholesome meals to folks who could really use one.
Bright, capable and unfailingly kind, Quinn tends to deflect praise to her team. So let me pause to mention a key culinary hero at The Nashville Food Project whom Bites readers may know: Anne Sale, the hot meal coordinator. A veteran of the banking industry, she ran the friendly coffeehouse The Good Cup in the Grassland community in Williamson County from for five years, before joining the nonprofit. (Read more about her on the Food Project's staff page.)
Here's how Quinn describes their work: “It takes a really creative spirit,” she says. “I love to see something made from nothing, and that’s sometimes what it feels like, all these pieces pulled together — one meal’s ingredients could be sourced from 20 different places. It’s really cool.”
Taylor is all grown up now; today is her 23rd birthday. (Happy birthday, Taylor!). Times and tastes have changed for her and, as reported in the December issue of Vanity Fair, Taylor is now on board with sushi, citing Japanese food as her weakness at favorite restaurants such as Nobu and Yellowtail at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. OK, so she didn't say sushi specifically, but if she's going to Yellowtail and not eating sushi, that's just criminal. Yes, even by this vegetarian's standards.
Of local interest, she gave a shout-out to Fido, Burger Up, Pancake Pantry and The Silly Goose as her "favorite neighborhood restaurants" (ostensibly, "neighborhood" by New York City standards). Bricktop's, though appears to have fallen off her list.
But lest we think she's gotten too highfalutin, she also notes that Dairy Queen's Cookie Dough Blizzard is one of her favorite desserts. And her favorite snack is nachos. Frankly, I can't argue with any of her picks.
While her unceasingly perky disposition across all six of her television shows causes me to raise an eyebrow — no one can be that happy while crying over pounds of fresh-cut onion — and her proclivity to use the word “yum-o” as a descriptor for just about everything makes me want to weep over my combination dictionary-thesaurus, I can’t help but like her.
In 2006, she formed a nonprofit organization — called, in fact, Yum-O! — to educate families on healthy eating habits and give scholarships to those pursuing careers on the food industry. Also, she just donated half a million dollars to ASPCA to open a shelter for Hurricane Sandy-displaced pets. Considering the number of cat photos on my Instagram, I had to like her just a bit more.
When I heard that Parnassus Books and Belmont University were teaming up to bring Ray to Belmont’s campus, I couldn’t help but be excited. An Evening with Rachael Ray, hosted by the Scene’s own Carrington Fox, will be centered around Ray talking about her new cookbook, My Year in Meals, a food diary that provides recipes for each of the meals that she prepared for her friends and family for an entire year.
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