Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Paula Deen Talks Sweetbreads, Butter and Why She and Dolly Should Totally Be Friends

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 8:51 AM


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.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Influential Women of Food in Nashville: This Week's Cover Story

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 3:03 PM

"Originally I thought chefs were a bunch of assholes," says Nashville restaurant legend Margot McCormack. "I thought, 'That's awful. That's not what I want to be at all.' " Then her boss at the time, Jody Faison, gave her a book by the great California chef Alice Waters, who was "making salad and nurturing people" in her own socially conscious way. "I thought, that's way more my speed."

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.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Original Rumours Owner Christy Shuff Departs Gulch Wine Bar

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 10:08 AM

  • Rumours on Facebook

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:

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nashville Chefs Star as Models in the New Chefwear Catalog

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Hal Holden-Baches star turn, autographed, no less.
  • Hal Holden-Bache's star turn, autographed, no less.
I don't remember exactly how I got on the Chefwear mailing list, but I do like to look at the catalog every now and again to see the latest in chef jackets, aprons and those intentionally hideous pants that are so popular in restaurant kitchens. So imagine my surprise when I pulled the latest copy out of my mailbox and saw a familiar face on the cover. "Hey," I thought. "That sorta looks like Hal, but cleaned up."

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 ...

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Inglewood's Brian Jackson Takes Triple Crown of East Nashville Food Contests

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Brian Jackson
  • Brian Jackson
Nashville has no shortage of talented chefs, and while we love seeing national magazines and newspapers rave about our local restaurants, we have a soft spot for people like Brian Jackson — amateur chefs who develop a zest for cooking competitions.

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.)

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pickings Are Plentiful Now at Bernie Ellis' Blueberry Farm

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Not Bernie Ellis blueberries, but a close facsimile.
  • Not Bernie Ellis' blueberries, but a close facsimile.
Need blueberries? Let Bernie Ellis be your huckleberry. His farm in nearby Santa Fe (pronounced "fee") is loaded with organic berries, and if you're looking for an outing with the kids in the weeks before school starts back up, this seems a golden chance to fill a few buckets in bright sunshine.

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.

If you want to know the story behind Bernie's farm, and the woman whose legacy he continues, click here. It's a memorable story, made even more significant by this one.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Spun City: The Invention of the Cotton Candy Machine

Posted By on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 7:46 AM

One recent evening, I had some rare access to the remote control for our television and landed on a show called “101 Fast Foods That Changed the World.” I was intrigued. Not limited to drive-thru cuisine, the list included Tootsie Rolls, MREs and protein bars. Also on the list (albeit, rather close to the bottom): cotton candy. I wasn’t paying much attention until I heard “Nashville.” Huh?

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.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

The People Issue, Dinner Table Division: Yayo Jiménez, Tallu Schuyler Quinn, Martin Cadieux

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Tallu Schuyler Quinn at The Nashville Food Projects garden.
The Scene's annual People Issue, which came out today, is jammed with fascinating profiles, and some may be of particular interest to Bites readers

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.”

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Taylor Swift Grows Up

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Taylor Swift hanging out at Fido
  • Taylor Swift hanging out at Fido
A few years ago, Steve Haruch wrote about how then-teenage Taylor Swift liked pizza, The Old Spaghetti Factory, and Bricktop's — but not sushi. At the time, I defended her likes and dislikes — she was still a teenager, to be fair — and I'll still admit not being a fan of sushi at that age (and to being quite the fan of Memphis' The Spaghetti Warehouse). Having access to the world's finest foods does not really have an effect on the teenage palate.

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.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Insert Perky Catchphrase Here! Rachael Ray Is Coming to Belmont!

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 5:48 AM

A few summers ago, I was visiting my friend Sandra in rural upstate New York. (There was one blinking light in her hamlet. Yes, a hamlet.) The only things we could do were sleep, read, kayak, cook and eat. One afternoon, my friend and I were feeling particularly adventurous and pulled out a recipe from an old magazine for fried chocolate-covered strawberries. (Like there’s anything wrong with that phrase.) After hours of preparation, we began by dropping our tester strawberry into the pot of boiling oil. Disaster ensued. The alarms blared as the entire kitchen filled with smoke and we rushed the steaming pot outside into the yard. Mission: failed.

After an afternoon of disappointment, we decided to rein in our kitchen adventures and pulled out her mother’s copy of Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats. I had vaguely heard of Rachael Ray before, but hadn’t paid much attention. After drawing inspiration from several of her recipes (apparently organic ground turkey is not a thing one could buy in the combination grocery store/gas station), I was (almost) sold.

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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