N O. 45
MEMPHIS FOOD, FARM AND COMMUNITY IN THE MID-SOUTH
FAMILIAR FACES KITCHEN QUARTERBACKS CLASSIC COCKTAILS UNSOLICITED ADVICE
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fall/winte r 2019 PUBLISHER Bill Ganus email@example.com CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Kristopher Hassett firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR IN CHIEF Stacey Greenberg email@example.com COPY EDITOR Manda Gibson AD SALES firstname.lastname@example.org DIGITAL CONTENT CREATOR Emma Meskovic email@example.com DESIGN AND LAYOUT Chloe Hoeg chloehoeg.com FOLLOW US Facebook: Edible Memphis Instagram: @ediblememphis Website: ediblememphis.com Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our apologies. Thank you. No part of this publication may be used without written permission of the publisher. © 2019 All Rights Reserved.
ON THE COVER Jessica Hunt is first to be featured in our new #FamiliarFaces series. Page 29. Photo: Kim Thomas ON THIS PAGE At Edge Alley, owners Tim and Lena Barker focus on a well-curated menu executed with excellence. Page 42. Photo: Houston Cofield 2 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
LETTER FROM PUBLISHER
32 THE BUZZ
A SAMPLE FROM OUR CLASSIC COCKTAIL GUIDE
BY BILL GANUS • PORTRAIT BY MICHAEL BUTLER, JR.
LETTER FROM EDITOR
Demystifying the classics with our favorite local bartenders
BY STACEY GREENBERG • PORTRAIT BY MICHAEL BUTLER, JR.
CONTRIBUTORS PAGE BY EMMA MESKOVIC
BY BENNETT BROWN • PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALEX SMYTHE
BEHIND THE BLADE The story of a chef’s knife
10 URBAN FARM
FROM COUNTRY VEGETABLES TO URBAN MICROGREENS Farming couple keeps “rolling along”
BY CANDICE BAXTER • PHOTOGRAPHS BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS
36 BACK OF THE HOUSE
BY DWAYNE BUTCHER • PHOTOGRAPHS BY BREEZY LUCIA
Dishwashers keep restaurants at the top of their game BY BIANCA PHILLIPS • PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHAEL BUTLER, JR.
MICROGREENS 101 BY ADAM QUEEN • PHOTOGRAPHS BY BREEZY LUCIA
RIGHT UP THEIR ALLEY
Meet the couple behind the Edge district’s signature restaurant
16 URBAN FARM
BY JEFF HULETT • PHOTOGRAPHS BY HOUSTON COFIELD
MORE SPORES PLEASE
Bluff City Fungi are popping up on menus and in markets BY JEFF HULETT • PHOTOGRAPHS BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS
46 OFF THE EATEN PATH
CHICKEN WINGS: A LOVE STORY The couple behind Riko’s Kickin’ Chicken
THE CHUBBY VEGETARIAN’S MUSHROOM GUIDE
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHAEL BUTLER, JR.
49 FOOD FOR THOUGHT
UNSOLICITED ADVICE FOR RESTAURATEURS
GUIDE AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS
From someone who wants to spend her money on your food and write nice things about you
FARMERS MARKET JUNKIES
BY STACEY GREENBERG • ILLUSTRATIONS BY EMMA MESKOVIC
For some people, it’s more than a healthy habit BY HEIDI RUPKE • PHOTOGRAPHS BY KIM THOMAS
52 ROAD THERAPY
A DAY (OR TWO) IN OXFORD
25 RISING STARS
From gas-station snacks to locally sourced dinners, Oxford’s food offerings don’t disappoint
FOOD MAKES THE WORLD GO ‘ROUND
Kaleidoscope Kitchen turns food passions into professions BY ARYANNA DUHL SMITH • PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHIP CHOCKLEY
29 FAMILIAR FACES
BY STACEY GREENBERG • PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICHARD LAWRENCE
56 EDIBLE INK
This Knifebird server is driven by a passion for great beverages, good music and her hometown BY STACEY GREENBERG • PHOTOGRAPHS BY KIM THOMAS
ILLUSTRATED BY ELIZABETH ALLEY
Thank you to these locally owned businesses that make Memphis a better, tastier city ediblememphis.com 3
4 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
Portrait: Michael Butler, Jr.; Other photos: left, Justin Fox Burks; right, Stacey Greenberg
Left: The Compost Fairy turns food scraps into a renewable product. Above: At the Boucherie Dinner chefs cook at Home Place Pastures, the farm that supplies their restaurants with meat.
t’s always nice to be able to draw clear walls around topics to help us think about small issues instead of huge systems, but those walled-off ideas rarely reflect reality. This issue has a few stories about restaurants. It also describes growers—of greens, grains, proteins and fungi—and the farmers markets that often introduce the growers to the chefs. Previous (and future) issues also discuss what happens to uneaten food. The cycle that creates the food we eat has no clear beginning and no discreet end, so making great decisions about food often requires us to care about that entire system. Sometimes learning about the full process is daunting. I want to challenge us, instead, to view it as fun. It’s fun to learn about— and, if you get the chance, to meet—the growers, the processors, the distributors, the preparers and the vendors and to hear the “whys” and “hows” in their stories. It’s also amazing to meet the solid waste workers, recyclers and composters and learn about the critical roles they play in our food system.
One of the things I hear as we continue to publish is how nice it is to hold and read a magazine that represents a (growing) family of businesses that are trying to do the right things in the right ways for our city. That sentiment has anchored the ethos of our team as we search for people, businesses, nonprofits, programs or whoever it is out there making our regional food system stronger. • Happy eating, shopping, ’shrooming and growing.
BILL GANUS Publisher Follow: @billganus ediblememphis.com 5
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
6 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
Radical, inside Puck Food Hall, is one of the many restaurants where I’ve spent my dining-out dollars in 2019. I do love that my sons are getting restaurant experience, though. I never could get Satchel to wash dishes at home, but he is great at cleaning the bathroom (yes, dishwashers often do that too) and now he happily chops vegetables and sharpens my knives. Jiro is a front-of-the-house guy at MEMPopS. Working the register has killed any shyness he might have had. Smiling, looking people in the eye, speaking to strangers, being polite—he now excels at all of these things. Best of all, he gets two free pops per shift, and he always saves one for me. I hope you’ll enjoy our deep dive into the restaurant world in this issue. Maybe it will inspire you to skip the fast food line when you’re not cooking at home, and spend your money at a locally owned restaurant you love instead. And if you’re lucky, when your kids become teenagers, they’ll want to go there to work. • STACEY GREENBERG Editor in Chief Follow: @nancy_jew
Photo: Stacey Greenberg
hen Fino’s announced its closing in 2018, everyone was shocked. Even those of us who realized that we hadn’t eaten there in months. There is no guarantee that our favorite restaurants are always going to be there waiting for us to come in and order a prosciutto cotto. The same goes for bars— Zinnie’s, anyone? Luckily, Fino’s and Zinnie’s have happy endings, but that isn’t always the case. We have to actively support the places we love. According to The Washington Post, half of all meals are now eaten in restaurants, half of those as fast food, and half of those fast food meals from just 10 companies. (Check out Elizabeth Alley’s beautiful illustration of these facts on page 56.) Pretty scary, right? I save all of my receipts, and at the end of each year, I calculate how much I spent on fast food and how much I spent at locally owned restaurants. Yes, really. I’m an accountant’s dream come true. My fast food spending is usually around $300 a year or $25 per month. Not bad, right? I should note that my kids, Satchel (17) and Jiro (15), have jobs and bank accounts, so I am sure there are some fast food purchases that get by me. The boys’ tastes for fast food have definitely decreased as they’ve gotten older. Satchel, who worked his way up from being a dishwasher to being a prep cook at Tsunami (that’s him on page 40), recently praised my first attempt at a homemade chicken sandwich and said, if he were eating at Chick-fil-A, it would be mostly grease. Jiro, who spends several hours a week exercising and is very mindful of what he puts in his body, can be easily swayed towards healthy choices. I was recently able to convince him that I could whip up some carbonara at home faster than we could get through any fast food drive-thru at 10 p.m. on a Saturday. And he will eat avocado toast with microgreens over a donut any day of the week. (I can’t wait to total up my farmers market receipts this year!) Now, about those locally owned restaurants. My total spending there is a lot higher. A lot. A lot lot. As a result, I like to think I know a thing or two about dining out. My friends say that, since I have never waited tables, I should keep my mouth shut. I think we all know how well I’ve listened to that! (See my “Unsolicited Advice for Restaurateurs” on page 49.)
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8 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
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Michael Butler, Jr. loves everything Memphis. His goal is to show the beauty in Memphis that others overlook. He’s a photographer, videographer, Memphis tee collector, foodie, lover of tacos and mayor of South Memphis. @_one901
Elizabeth Alley was born in Memphis and has a bachelor of ﬁne arts in painting from the University of Memphis. In addition to making paintings and ﬁlling up sketchbooks, she teaches at Flicker Street Studio and organizes Memphis Urban Sketchers. Since 1999 she has organized and participated in over 30 solo and group shows. @elizabethalley
Candice Baxter writes on homegrown food and raising independent kids. Her work is featured in the Memphis Flyer, Memphis Parent and others. Currently completing her ﬁrst full-length manuscript, she uses her blog, So Lit Lunch, to chronicle the road to publication and midday meals with a mentor. @cbaxsquared
Bennett Brown has been in Memphis his whole life. In college he studied psychology and biology at the University of Memphis. Today he enjoys dining and drinking around the city, writing and working behind the bar serving guests at The Cove. @bennett_brown1
Justin Fox Burks has been a professional photographer for 20 years, but that’s not all. He photographed and co-authored two vegetarian cookbooks, The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table and The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Inspired Vegetable Recipes for the Modern Table. He feels fortunate to be able to make interesting images for a living. @justinfoxburks
Dwayne Butcher is the director of digital content at Rhodes College. He spends a lot of his time with his wife taking pictures of their worthless cats. @dwaynebutcher
Chip Chockley, an attorney by day, has been a professional photographer since 2008. Things that make him happy include tacos, mai tais and his wife and kids. @chipchockley
Houston Coﬁeld is a photographer and artist living and working in Memphis. He received his MFA in photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his BA in journalism from the University of Mississippi. He is a fourth generation photographer, all of which have photographed the American South. @houstoncoﬁeld
Jeﬀ Hulett is married with two daughters and lives in Midtown. He plays lots of music and tells lots of dad jokes. @dad_onarrival
Richard Lawrence takes pictures in and around the city of Memphis and the Mid-South. @sundayinmemphis
Breezy Lucia is a Memphis transplant from Kansas City, Missouri. She’s a freelance photographer and ﬁlmmaker living in Midtown. @breezylucia
Andy Meek is a native Memphian whose work during a nearly two-decade career in journalism has appeared in outlets like The Guardian, The Washington Post and Fast Company. @andymeek
Bianca Phillips writes about vegan food (and shares images of everything she eats) on her blog, Vegan Crunk. She's the author of Cookin' Crunk: Eatin' Vegan in the Dirty South. By day, she works as the communications coordinator for Crosstown Arts/Crosstown Concourse. She and her partner, Paul, are the proud parents of ﬁve cats and one very stubborn (but adorable) pit bull. @biancaphillips
Adam Queen is one half of Rolling Along Farms in Memphis. @rollingalongfarms
Heidi Rupke ﬁnds pleasure in maintaining the practical skills her grandmothers loved: quilting, gardening, keeping chickens and cooking from scratch. She enjoys biking around Midtown with her family and will drop everything for a good plate of Japanese-style pickled vegetables. @rupkeheidi
Aryanna Duhl Smith is a Memphis transplant and amateur blogger at Blossoming Brick, where she rants about food, cities and the environment. She can be found taking pictures of buildings, trees and her tea. @blossomingbrick
Alex Smythe is a born-and-raised Memphian. With an art background from the University of Memphis, he has been a freelance photographer for the last 10 years. Photography is his part-time creative outlet, and he has worked passionately at Grizzlies Prep charter school for the last six years as operations manager. @thealex3
Kim Thomas is a lifestyle blogger and photographer based in Memphis. Launched in September 2010, her blog, KP Fusion, provides of-the-moment fashion, style and beauty tips and trends with a little Memphis ﬂavor thrown in. @kpfusion
Emma Meskovic is the queen of all trades at Edible Memphis. You can ﬁnd her posting on social media, managing print ﬁles, designing ads or editing the website. You can also ﬁnd her standing on a chair and taking photos of her food while proclaiming, “Sorry! This is my job!” @emmamesk
From Country Vegetables to Urban Microgreens Farming couple keeps “rolling along”
BY DWAY NE BUTC HER • PHOTOGR APHS BY BREE Z Y LUCIA
10 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
enée Embry and Adam Queen’s story starts as all envious romantic tales of young, passionate, idealistic Midtown lovers tend to do, at the P&H Café. In the back of this smoky bar, their relationship grew over pitchers of cheap beer and a desire to leave the world a better place than they found it. Separately, they were already working towards this end. Renée was volunteering for a medical nonprofit at summer camps around the country and Adam was learning all he could about organic farming and soil microbiology. Adam comes from a long line of family farmers. He spent six years after college working for his father’s business in Henning, Tennessee, on Queen Farms. It is what one would call a traditional West Tennessee farm, producing cotton, corn and soybeans. In what little free time Adam had, he began growing vegetables near his house. He found he had quite a knack for gardening and soon began reading books about organic farming. This new hobby soon became his primary interest, and he began to take his vegetables to the Court Square Farmers Market in Covington, Tennessee. After a year of driving back and forth between Memphis and Henning, Renée and Adam decided to move in together. It sounds silly to them now, but Renée moving to Henning made the most sense at the time. She laughs when explaining that it was simply easier for her to move to Henning than for Adam to move his farm to Memphis. They were essentially “homesteaders” in their first place together in Henning—an old farmhouse with no heating or air conditioning. They had only a wood burning stove in the winter and fans in the summer. “It was rough,” Adam says. Nothing ever worked, and everything from the roof to the floorboards needed to be replaced or required major work. After getting several quotes to fix up the place, something became very clear to them—it would be cheaper to build a new house. And so they did. Renée and Adam built a roundhouse on top of a small hill in Lauderdale County and start-
ed growing their own farming business, Rolling Along Farms. For the first several years they mainly grew vegetables and then added in microgreens. Along the way, they worked to get their Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) certification. CNG offers peer-review certification to farmers and beekeepers producing food for their local communities by working in harmony with nature, without relying on synthetic chemicals or GMOs. There are two components during the review process for certification: One, a CNGcertified farmer has to come out and inspect every aspect of the applicant’s farm. Two, the applicant goes to inspect a farm. “It essentially creates a community of farmers,” says Adam. After about a year of living in their new house, the distance from Memphis was becoming an issue and was impeding the growth of their business. Renée and Adam decided to move their entire farming operation to a three-bedroom house on Southern Avenue, directly across the street from a rail yard. “The name Rolling Along Farms makes even more sense as we now live across the street from a train,” Renée notes. Adam says they never had a big farming plot. “We had our front and side yard planted in Henning,” he says. “Now we have a spare room inside of our house for the microgreens that is about 15 by 15. Our back lot is under a quarter of an acre.” In their front and back yards, they’ve planted leafy greens; herbs; root crops; Asian varieties of bok choy, green onion, arugula, lettuce, radishes, turnips and mustards; green beans; tomatoes; and squash. Turning the Southern Avenue property into a farm made sense from a land, cost and location perspective. It is less than a mile from the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market. “When we decided to move markets from Covington to Cooper-Young, it was going to be during the winter market. There is not a lot you can grow all winter in our climate without some high tunnels, so I ramped up our microgreen game. It’s our best seller at market and it’s something that we can have consistently,” says Adam.
Adam Queen and Renée Embry farm out of their three-bedroom house and property on Southern Avenue, just across from a rail yard. Selling at the nearby Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market has dramatically increased the farming couples’ bottom line. ediblememphis.com 11
Rolling Along Farms dedicates a 15- by 15-foot room to growing microgreens, which pack a big flavor and nutrition punch. The first time they were vendors at the Cooper-Young market, they more than doubled their sales from their best weekend at the Court Square Farmers Market. Since then they have been able to quadruple their gross. Now they have regular customers who text them their orders Friday night or Saturday morning so they’ll be prepackaged and ready to go. Rolling Along Farms is also building relationships with restaurants like Wok’n in Memphis and Lucky Cat. They can instantly fill and deliver a $10 order for arugula microgreens at one place, $12 worth of basil flowers at another, and $20 of sunflower microgreens at yet another. “We can fill a void for restaurants outside of their normal delivery days,” Renée explains. “It helps keep their costs down.” Renée and Adam work full-time jobs, while growing their farming business at night and on the weekends. (She’s an art teacher at RaleighEgypt Middle School, and he’s a horticulturist at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.) “Being self-sustaining is the goal,” Renée says. She estimates that they are two years away from making “self-sustaining” a reality. Of urban farming, Adam says, “It just makes sense because there is so much space available.” The community aspect of urban farming is something that has become very important to him and Renée. A new passion project of theirs is to help others to grow an additional acre of food on plots across the city. Something they learned from their CNG certification experience is that they do not want to hoard the information they have gained. “There are just too many people that have to eat,” Renée says. “There is a place for everybody. If we help each other out, then we all succeed.” Visit Renée and Adam every Saturday morning at the CooperYoung Community Farmers Market. Ask Renée about how she has perfected using their mini microgreen hedge trimmer. Ask Adam about his Salvador Dali tattoo. Talk to them about just about anything, and you’ll be glad you did. • 12 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
MICROGREENS 101 BY ADAM QUEEN • PHOTOGR APHS BY BREEZ Y LUCIA
microgreen is essentially a baby plant. Unlike sprouts, microgreens are typically grown in soil and harvested once the cotyledon (an embryonic leaf in a seedbearing plant) has fully developed. Some are harvested once the first true leaves develop. Most microgreens mature around 10 to 14 days. Others, though, may take more or less time. For instance, sunflowers mature in seven days and cilantro can take 21 to 30 days. We also
grow mung bean sprouts, which grow in the dark for seven days. Microgreens can be grown for flavor, nutrition and their striking visual presentation. Most are very rich in potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper. You can use them as a garnish in soups, salads and places where you would normally use lettuce, like on tacos and in sandwiches. Here’s a look at what we’re growing and what they can be used for.
Earthy, almost beet-like flavor. Bright red in color, it is mostly used for its striking visual presentation. Great as a garnish.
Leafy with a sweet flavor similar to that of English peas. Good where lettuce would be used. Also a good base for our Micro Mix, which is a good microgreen salad. You can make a pesto with this one as well.
ARUGULA Tastes just like arugula—peppery and spicy. Good anywhere you want to use arugula, like pizza and soups. Garnish with flavor.
BASIL (ITALIAN, LEMON AND DARK OPAL) Tastes just like basil. Use anywhere you would basil. Good in a caprese salad.
BEET Tastes just like beets. Bright red stem and green leaves add a striking visual presentation to any dish.
BROCCOLI Has a taste similar to broccoli. Very high in antioxidants. Good in salads, sandwiches and burgers.
CILANTRO Tastes more pungent than full-leaf cilantro. Use anywhere you would cilantro.
MUNG BEAN SPROUTS Good for stir fries and pho.
POPCORN Grown in the dark to maintain its blanched, white appearance. It’s sweet and earthy, like sweet corn.
PURPLE CABBAGE Similar to cabbage in flavor. Good on sandwiches, burgers and soups.
PURPLE RADISH Spicy hot flavor much like a full-grown radish. It is also purple, so it adds to the visual presentation of dishes.
SUNFLOWER Very high in protein with a sweet, nutty flavor. Good for garnishing. You can also make a pesto with this one.
SWISS CHARD Great in soups and salads. The bright yellow stem adds a pop to any dish. • ediblememphis.com 13
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14 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
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More Spores Please
Bluff City Fungi are popping up on menus and in markets BY JEFF HULE T T • PHOTOGR APHS BY JUS TIN FOX BURK S
16 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
ocally grown shiitake, lion’s mane, oyster, hen of the woods, and chestnut mushrooms are popping up all over town—in restaurants and at the farmers markets—thanks to Scott Lisenby (pronounced “Listen Bee”), who launched Bluff City Fungi in 2013. “I love the creation of it all—seeing the process through from start to finish. Seeing people geek out about the mushrooms we are dishing out is amazing. This is my dream job,” he says. Thanks to their growing business, the entire Bluff City Fungi operation recently moved from four freestanding buildings into a new warehouse space, with the entire operation under one roof. “We had the opportunity to address a lot of operational inefficiencies and upgraded the whole farm from head to toe to make our jobs a little easier. It also gives us much more space to scale up to at least double our previous levels of production,” says Scott. “It has been a dream of mine for years to be in a space like the one we are in now.” Scott’s property is like a page out of a Dr. Seuss book or scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Everything is precise, yet chaotic. Odd, yet striking. Not to mention the efficient use of space. Every inch is used for something. From piles upon piles of mushroom debris waiting to be composted to the front-of-house packaging efforts, it’s no wonder Bluff City Fungi has positioned itself as the leader in Memphis’s mushroom game. Vertical farming can mean a number of things depending on who you ask, but for Bluff City Fungi it simply means growing upward and utilizing vertical space, usually associated with an environmentally controlled setup. “Almost all exotic mushroom farming is done this way, so it’s nothing unique, but we have adapted these commercial techniques and efficiencies on the small scale to do more using less. Being lean is a huge part of our mentality,” said Scott. Generally the mushroom-growing process goes: spore to petri plate to grain to sawdust to mushrooms. “Each stage is just as critical as the one before it since our weeds (competitor molds) are floating all around us all the time,” explains Scott. “We are making the most rich and expansive environment to grow mold— and the challenge is making the environment perfect to grow only what we want.” A single spore from a single mushroom is used to grow an entire crop. If competitive molds take over the environment, everything can get corrupted. Scott is fascinated by the science of mushrooms. He says it’s always a battle to create a bountiful crop. Everything is based on temperature and light. Scott really needs to know his stuff because one bad calculation can mean the loss of a full crop. From professional HVAC controls to humidifiers, the cleanliness and sterilization of the environment are paramount to the success and growth of the business. Over time, Bluff City Fungi has become a family affair, which had been a long-term goal for Scott. His sister-in-law, Lauren
Scott Lisenby, owner of Bluff City Fungi, is cultivating more “fans of fungi” across the Mid-South. Lisenby, is a part-time employee, helping at the Cooper-Young farmers market and with production needs around the farm. His mother, Patti Young, works with him full-time. While they argue on occasion, Scott doesn’t know what he would do without his mom on the team. She heads up sales and distribution, along with myriad other tasks. “My mom has always been ready to hop in and help any way she could, whether it was mushroom farming or even back in my produce-growing days she was our number one volunteer and supporter,” says Scott. “It’s a little cliché, but she is the hardest-working person I know and I’ve definitely inherited her drive and focus.” Patti says that she feels fortunate to be able to earn a living doing something she believes in and loves. “Not many people get to say that in their lifetime,” she adds. Mushrooms are all the rage as local chefs are trying things they’ve never tried before. “People want something local and new. Mushrooms are fresh options for all kinds of dishes,” says Scott. “Mushrooms are incredibly delicious and good for you. From regulating blood sugar and blood pressure to improving the immune system, mushrooms have a lot to offer.” ediblememphis.com 17
Chef Zach Nicholson of Lucky Cat says, “Scott has been a friend of ours since our pop-up days and we are constantly amazed by the quality of his products. Simply put, he grows some of the most beautiful mushrooms I have seen, here in Memphis or anywhere. The importance of what he is doing for our local food scene is immense and I hope that others are inspired by his example of executing his dream with such focus.” Throughout his years in the service industry, Scott built relationships everywhere he went—relationships he never thought would benefit him later in life when he launched his own company. “My first client was The Kitchen at Shelby Farms. I worked there and offered to bring in some of my crop,” Scott says. Then, one at a time, more and more restaurants wanted his mushrooms. Scott is now delivering to over 25 local restaurants in Memphis, Nashville and Oxford. He sells at three Memphis farmers markets every week (when in season) and is a regular at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Memphis-area restaurants served by Bluff
Chubby Vegetarian’s Mushroom Guide S TORY AND PHOTO GR APHS BY JUS TIN FOX B URK S
City Fungi include 117 Prime, 3rd & Court Diner, Blue Honey Bistro, Capriccio Grill, Caritas Community Center and Café, Chez Philippe, Ecco, Folk’s Folly, The Grove Grill, Interim and Sweet Grass. Scott has a hard time saying which local chef has the best mushroom dish on the menu because he believes so many of them are knocking it out of the park, but when pressed, he gives a shoutout to 117 Prime. “They make a mushroom medley side dish with rosemary and garlic, and it is absolutely out of this world. Very simple, very minimalist—they don’t hide them or sneak them in a dish. They let the mushrooms shine, which is why it really stands out to me,” he says. As for the future of Bluff City Fungi, Scott hopes to corner the exotic mushroom market further. They’ve begun consulting with other mushroom farmers, are planning to host classes eventually and along the way aim to create more “fans of fungi,” as Scott says. “Growth is imminent and palpable, and Bluff City Fungi is primed to pick up the mantle,” he says. • @bluffcityfungi
Oyster (golden or blue)
This beautiful mushroom is very versatile. This is one of the many mushrooms whose name gives you a clue to its flavor and how it can be used. We swap this mushroom in for oysters in classic dishes like oysters Rockefeller and the Southern holiday classic, cornbread dressing with oysters.
Hen of the woods
These dense, low-moisture mushrooms have a meaty texture and flavor. We use dried shiitake mushrooms to make an umami-rich ramen broth, and fresh shiitake mushrooms make a fantastic paté for bahn mî sandwiches. They’re great simply sautéed in some sesame oil with a little soy sauce. Try the tempura shiitake mushrooms at Sekisui.
This unusual cluster of mushrooms has a fantastic texture much like chicken. Again, the name tells you all you need to know. We batter and deep fry these in a spicy, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken-style breading. They look like fried chicken and they taste like fried chicken. The Beauty Shop serves them grilled over an open flame with sesame, soy and lime. Alongside the Beauty Shop’s truffle fries, it’s a Chubby Vegetarian favorite.
These curious-looking mushrooms have a very spongy cell structure. We like to pull them apart into bite-sized pieces, dress them in a little olive oil and vinegar, and roast them in the oven for about 20 minutes. The result can be used in tacos or on pasta. You don’t see these on too many menus around town, but I hope that’ll change as chefs become more familiar with the lion’s mane. 18 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
This mushroom has a diminutive cap and is unusual because it’s prized for its thick stem. We slice them into rounds and sear them in a hot pan with a little butter. They’re a great stand-in for scallops since they have a seafood-like flavor and texture. We also thinly slice and grill them and serve them wrapped in tortillas with some punchy guacamole and hot sauce. •
COMMUNIT Y A commitment to vendors, delicious food and a sustainable way of eating bring the farmers market faithful back week after week.
20 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
FARMERS MARKET JUNKIES For some people, it’s more than a healthy habit BY HEIDI RUPKE PHOTOGR APHS BY KIM THOMA S
grew up in Michigan. Farmers markets there are vibrant and abundant—for six months of the year. For the other six months, it’s back to grocery store produce or, if I’m lucky, canned and frozen veg that my family put up during summer’s bounty, which, to her ever-living credit, my mother did. Now that I live in Memphis, I patronize farmers markets every week because I can. (My Michigan family still can’t quite believe my life of vegetable luxury.) And also because I get a little twitchy if I go more than a week without crisp greens in winter and local blueberries in summer. I’m hooked on the freshness and taste of the food, as well as seeing friendly faces every week. If this is addiction, I don’t want to go into recovery. I am not alone. Rain or shine, in windy 30-degree weather or a sweltering 105, some people never miss a week at a Memphis farmers market. Here’s why. ediblememphis.com 21
What would have to happen for you to miss a week at the market? I’d have to be really sick or out of town for a long stretch of time. A friend will pick up my CSA share if I’m just gone for the weekend. All told, I only miss four to six Saturday markets per year. What tips would you offer to market rookies? Unfamiliar vegetables can be intimidating to a first-time shopper. Buy one thing you’re not familiar with and start googling what to do with it. Get a few other things that you already know what to do with. Don’t buy everything you see because that gets overwhelming.
It’s February and really cold. The stalls are overflowing with kale and turnips for the 12th consecutive week. Why come today? I know from my time as a vendor that what isn’t sold after the market won’t be good the following Saturday. When I had Bun in the Oven, I depended on the die-hard customers to get me through a week. Vendors do the same amount of work, no matter what their sales are. Patronizing the market is my way of giving back. I’ve made a commitment to these people and the mission. That’s what gets me through the weeks on end of mustard greens.
Edible Memphis: How long have you been visiting farmers markets regularly? Laura Barrett: From 2006 to 2008 I was a vendor at the downtown market. My business was called Bun in the Oven, and I sold baked goods. Often at the end of the day, vendors would swap their unsold goods and I’d go home with all kinds of fun things. After I stopped selling at the market, I continued to go every week as a shopper. My family has gotten a CSA from Tubby Creek Farm for the last seven years, so we’re at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market every week to pick that up, plus more. Why do you come every week? I love to cook, and our family is vegetarian. The quality of the produce—especially the lettuce—is so superior to what I can get at a grocery store. I also believe in the mission of the farmers market: to support small, independent producers and their families, as well as investing in a system that requires less transport and, often, fewer chemical pesticides. The fresh flowers make me happy, and sometimes I get a beautiful necklace that I don’t really need. Do you have any rituals around your farmers market routine? Most weeks I like to go by myself, leaving the kids home with my husband. They tell me which treats they’d like me to bring back— chocolate croissants, cinnamon rolls or donuts, usually—and then I pick up the CSA share and other goods like goat cheese, fresh pasta and bread. The market is a very social place. I almost always run into someone I know: friends, neighbors, people from my kids’ school. 22 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
ERIK PROVEAUX Edible Memphis: What farmers markets do you patronize? Erik Proveaux: Downtown, Cooper-Young, Agricenter What keeps you coming back? We have to eat every day, right? I like getting the best food possible for myself and my family. Food is where we get our energy, and I think the food at the market is the freshest, the most alive, the most healthy. It’s also a human-scale economy instead of a giant corporation. I’m a small-business owner myself, so the vendors here are kindred spirits. (Edible Memphis note: Erik Proveaux is the owner of Fuel food trucks, which are parked at the Memphis Farmers Market many Saturdays. Try their veggie tacos. They might change your life.)
What’s your favorite season at the market? Late spring is my favorite. By that time, I’m getting tired of root vegetables and really in the mood for something fresh. I never used to like asparagus until I started getting asparagus from Whitton Farms. It was always OK, but I never saw what the big deal was. But the asparagus from Whitton Farms tasted almost sweet and so fresh. I finally got why people love it. And that’s what’s great about the market: It keeps you connected to the normal rhythms of life and seasons. Any guilty pleasures? La Belle European Bakery’s almond croissants are as good as any I’ve had anywhere. I’ve traveled a lot and, really, these are that good. I know they’re not necessarily healthy for me, but they’re so delicious that they balance the equation somehow. My son Lukas, who is four, really loves the banana muffins. If we don’t get to the market before they’re sold out, it’s bad. Describe a perfect day at the market. They have the banana muffins. They have local butter; that’s an elusive one. It’s not freezing cold rain. I buy a whole bunch of stuff for the week and leave with heavy bags. If there are live animals, my son loves that. I’m trying to get him to eat green vegetables now, and I think that bringing him to the market gives him a respect for food. What do you like to make with your purchases? Recently I’ve been freestyling with spaghetti squash. I made a casserole with squash, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, marinara and vegan ricotta. I’ve also baked ribs of squash with five-spice powder and glazed them with hoisin sauce. Put that beside some mahi mahi, and dinner is done. In summer, there’s nothing better than a giant chopped salad made entirely from market purchases: roasted potatoes, green beans, peas, some goat feta from Bonnie Blue Farm, for starters. My twins’ first food was sweet potatoes from Marla’s Garden. I told her the next week that it was their first solid food. I think she was proud. It shows you trust what they’re doing.
ALISON HAPPELPARKINS (Along with husband, Franz, and their children, Lua and Asata) Edible Memphis: What farmers market do you patronize? Alison Happel-Parkins: Cooper-Young What do you like to purchase there? We eat a lot of eggs, and I like to get them from chickens that have been treated well. We also buy local honey and seasonal produce like onions, potatoes, peppers or squash. Sometimes we get snacks to eat while we’re there. Snacks might be fried pie, pastry or carrots (one of Lua’s favorites). What keeps you coming back? Honestly, the Compost Fairy is one of the biggest factors. We keep bags of compost in our freezer and bring them to the market every Saturday to free up space. We appreciate the fresh produce and eggs and also how social it is for us. Lua loves to see friends from school at the market. The kids run around together while the adults chat. There’s a sense of community there. A lot of the vendors there saw us when I was pregnant. Now Asata is a toddler, and they got to see that progression. I make an effort to go even when it’s not convenient because we need the market and the market needs us. I encourage people to go even when the weather is terrible. The compost forces us to do that. Describe a perfect day at the market. We have walked there from our house. It is approximately 83 degrees. It’s tomato season and we’ve gotten there early enough to grab some before they’re gone. A couple of Lua’s friends are there so they can play while I shop and talk. If they are selling beer that day, that would be nice. What do you wish more people knew about Memphis farmers markets? That people can use SNAP benefits there. I recognize that it’s an economic privilege to be able to shop at the farmers market because it’s more expensive than grocery stores. But some of the produce in grocery stores has been subsidized and, in some cases, picked with slave labor. The only sustainable way to eat is to eat seasonally and locally whenever possible. The farmers market couldn’t align any better with our values of food and community. • ediblememphis.com 23
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24 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
FOOD MAKES THE WORLD GO ’ROUND Kaleidoscope Kitchen turns food passions into professions BY ARYANNA DUHL SMITH • PHOTOGR APHS BY CHIP CHOCKLE Y Kaleidoscope Kitchen, a project of the Binghampton Development Corporation (BDC), has turned out some rockstar alumni over almost two years in operation. Fayha Sakkan, Ibtisam “Ibti” Salih and Indra Sunuwar, the original chefs of Global Café in Crosstown Concourse, all went through the kitchen, as did the founding team of Inspire Community Café in Binghampton— Kristin Fox-Trautman, Charlena Branch, Jackie Chandler, Terrance Whitley and Tevin Whitley. I sat down with Ema lea Rieckhoff, who was serving as Kaleidoscope’s operation manager at the time but now has moved on to other adventures, to see how they’re helping chefs get their unique food into the mouths of Memphians. In 2017, the BDC received grant funding for a new project and looked to the community for input on how to put the money to work. “Our mission isn’t to come into a neighborhood and fix everything; it’s to be in the neighborhood and have the neighborhood come to us and say, ‘This is what we want to see happen,’” Emalea says. Neighbors in Binghampton did just that. Specifically, a few immigrant and refugee women, like Ibti and Indra, became founding members of Kaleidoscope. “They said, ‘We want to share our food and share our culture, but we also want to make money,’” said Emalea.
Abdinasir “Abdi” Bilaw’s Sambusas ediblememphis.com 25
Flora Elisa’s Chicken Chapati Wraps
To help them with the business side, Kaleidoscope created four main programs: low-cost kitchen rental, a culinary basics training course, smallbusiness counseling, and coordination of food sales. Emalea says that the kitchen rental is important for their tenants because food has to be prepared in a commercial kitchen, and there’s not a lot of incubator space in Memphis, especially space that’s affordable and accessible. 26 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
The program that gets the most interaction with the Kaleidoscope team is the 13-week culinary course, which is offered in English and Spanish, with an Arabic class anticipated in 2020. “The goal of the curriculum is for them to take their passion for food and craft it to a professional level,” Emalea says. So far, the program boasts 26 graduates. Abdinasir “Abdi” Bilaw has taken advantage of a lot of the opportunities that Kaleidoscope offers; he went through
the culinary course, did catering out of the kitchen, and was even a part of the most recent Kaleidoscope Food Festival. The festival highlighted the work of Kaleidoscope entrepreneurs and featured performances that showcased the cultures represented in Binghampton. (The festival featured three additional Kaleidoscope chefs: Flora Elisa, Eneydi Lopez and Adrian Guess.) Abdi is a refugee from Somalia; he came to Memphis by way of South Africa. “In South Africa, he did some work as a chef, so he had a culinary background to begin with,” Emalea says. “But starting everything over and coming to a new place is really hard, especially when you didn’t necessarily speak the same language.” Abdi learned a lot of English in South Africa, so we had no trouble talking about his experience with Kaleidoscope and his plans for the future. Abdi started cooking at a young age. “When I was young, I was helping my mom and my family,” he says. “Then my sister opened her own restaurant in Somalia, so I was helping my sister and she was showing me how to cook everything.” When he came to Memphis in 2016, he kept cooking. Abdi worked at Felicia Suzanne’s, then Mama Gaia (now closed), and met other immigrants that told him about the BDC and Kaleidoscope Kitchen. “They taught me recipes, temperatures,” he said. “When I was in Africa, we weren’t using recipes. We were just guessing everything. But in the United States, you have to use a recipe.” Emalea says a big part of the classes is learning how to write a recipe so you know your ingredient quantities and can accurately price your menu. It’s also important for keeping your food consistent. “Writing down that recipe is so pivotal in the life of a food company,” she says. “If you grow to a certain capacity, you might have to hire another chef and they’re going to have to learn it.” In addition to writing recipes, chefs learn basic culinary terms, what it’s like to
work in a professional kitchen, culinary techniques, pricing, menu creation and expectations of the food industry. “It can be common in other cultures for time to be a different concept,” Emalea says. “If someone wanted a catering order and it’s 30 minutes late, you’re not getting paid.” Another challenge is finding a balance between adaptation and not losing the chef’s identity. Concepts like time management and spice levels have to be carefully worked out with the entrepreneurs. Emalea says they’re told to look at what’s true to their passion and culture, and what needs to be adapted. Ultimately, decisions like how much to bring down the spiciness of a dish for the Memphis palate is up to the entrepreneurs themselves. Emalea describes the mission of Kaleidoscope: “We want to provide minority entrepreneurs with the chance to create a successful food business.” After tasting the food that’s coming from these chefs, seeing how their cultures are being shared with Memphis through their food, and getting stuffed too often at Global Café, I’d say the program is definitely a success.
Save a Lot and Cordelia’s Market and at the Memphis Farmers Market every Saturday. • Sheneda Porter, owner of the Memphis Peach, sells her peach cobbler at the Memphis Farmers Market. • Allen Johnson is the owner of the Fries Guys food truck in Memphis. • Andrewella Chism, owner of Healthy Urban Eats, sells her unique bean pies at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market.
• Eneydi Lopez, owner of Eny’s Tamales, does catering as well as selling at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market. • Shelia Sharp sells her Shelia’s Famous Spinach Dips at Cordelia’s Market, The Curb Market and Superlo Foods. You can also contact Kaleidoscope Kitchen to have one of the entrepreneurs like The Kitchen Guru, Sweets by Yellie, Abdi’s Specialty or Flo’s Kitchen cater your next event! •
Eneydi Lopez’s Tamales
Here’s where to find your next bite, served by a Kaleidoscope entrepreneur: • Christopher Hudson now serves as executive chef at Mahogany Memphis. • Adrian Guess, owner of Mouthful, is still incubating with Kaleidoscope as a caterer, but can be found as a line cook at Sage. • Stacy Hinkle, owner of The Chocolate Drop Bakeshop, provides sweets at Belltower Artisans. • Yolanda Manning, owner of Araba’s Sweet Spot, creates vegan cookies and sweets sold at Inspire Community Café. She can also be found at Radical in the Puck Food Hall. • Armelia Young, owner of Made From Scratch, sells her grandma’s recipe chocolate chip and butter cookies at ediblememphis.com 27
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This Knifebird server is driven by a passion for great beverages, good music and her hometown BY S TACE Y GREENBERG • PHOTOGR APHS BY KIM THOMA S
We’re starting a new series on #FamiliarFaces. These are people in the food scene whose faces you might recognize but whose stories you probably don’t know. They are good at what they do, fun to talk to and just seem interesting—people we all want to know more about. So we’re starting the conversation for you!
Jessica Hunt serves up “good ole Southern hospitality” to patrons at Cooper-Young’s Knifebird wine bar. ediblememphis.com 29
eet Jessica Hunt, also known as BearCub, who is a server and bartender at Knifebird in Cooper-Young. She’s 29 years old and grew up all over Memphis but says, “Obviously my favorite part of town that I lived in is Midtown, hands down.” Knifebird owner Kate Ashby says, “Jessica has one of the most dynamic and warm personalities of anyone I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. No matter what’s going on in her personal life, she comes to work with a smile and treats everyone she encounters with a crazy amount of hospitality.” Customers love Jessica, and we do too. We hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we did. After you read about her here, you can see her in person on November 2, when she plays with her band, Melan-tone, at the free Edge District Fall Fest in the Edge district. Edible Memphis: How did you get into the restaurant industry? Jessica: I got into the restaurant industry about five years ago. One of my good friends got me a job at Texas Roadhouse, but I eventually left and went to The Kitchen Bistro [now closed]. I realized how intrigued I was by food and beverage. At the time, I didn’t realize that there was this world of chefs curating a menu that’s designed to go with numerous pairings, such as wine and cocktails. I was able to be around some of the most talented bartenders that would come up with these super-tasty, handcrafted cocktails. It’s honestly moving, and gives me the drive and passion to dive deeper in this industry.
During her early days in the restaurant industry, Jessica Hunt was inspired by bartenders making handcrafted cocktails. 30 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
What’s cool about your current job? Currently, I’m working at Knifebird wine bar, which to me is one of the hottest places in Memphis right now. The thing that is cool about my job is that, instead of being pretentious about wine, we’re all just having fun with it. Of course, we have to be knowledgeable about all of the wines, but we like to keep it fun and fresh. Walking into the world of wine can be very intimidating for some of our guests, but with my bubbly personality, and even some of our wine descriptions saying that “Khal Drogo would drink this,” it just shows how we like to have fun with it.
What’s your dream job? So, some people know this about me. I’ve been playing bass guitar since I was 15 years old. My first love and passion will always be music. With that being said, I would love my dream job to be traveling the world with my band, Melan-tone, doing what I love the most. Do you have a side hustle? My side hustle for the past nine years has been working as a freelance makeup artist. I first started under local videographer Isaiah Conyers that has worked with several mainstream artists, and Brady Boyd that is holding it down in the bridal community. I still work with these awesome local talents to this day. What’s your favorite thing about Memphis? That good ole Southern hospitality, and of course the food. Also, there are so many talented singer/songwriter/musicians out here that don’t get enough credit. Memphis is literally a melting pot full of different races and walks of life. You can learn so much— from the guy sitting in the park just playing his guitar to make some extra cash, to the business owner sitting at the bar drinking an old-fashioned. Describe your perfect meal/drink/day. Perfectly marinated ribeye with some grilled veggies and a glass of my favorite cab on a Sunday with my boyfriend. Tell us something no one else knows about you. I have an unbelievable fear of heights and the ocean. Those are two things I find absolutely beautiful and amazing but terrifying at the same time. Have you ever been to Graceland? A farmers market? Ridden a Bird? It’s funny to me because I have yet to meet a Memphian that has gone to Graceland. So that’s a no on that, but definitely on my bucket list of touristy things to do in Memphis. Also, I absolutely love the farmers market. I like to call myself a great cook—at least that’s what my boyfriend and family tell me. I love to cook with anything that’s ethically grown and happy animals. Lastly, I love to Bird around Memphis as well. My favorite thing to do is riding across the Old Bridge. I have this spot I hang out under the bridge once I reach the other side; that’s where I reflect on my life. Describe your personal style philosophy. Eclectic. I’m kind of all over the place when it comes to my style. I tend to wear anything that just makes me happy. I love going through my grandmother’s cool shirts she would never expect me to wear, down to some cool leather biker shorts and a nice boot. Also, I enjoy just having fun mixing patterns with different materials.
Do you have a mentor? My mom. I’ve seen her struggle, then turn into this great business owner. She’s been in entrepreneurship for over a year now with Paparazzi jewelry, and shows me every day with consistency comes success. With me being an adult, you think you stop learning from your parents, but my mom always gives the best lessons and advice. She’s the real MVP. Where do you see yourself in five years? Dropping the dopest album of the year, and playing in front of thousands at The O2 arena in London. Stay tuned! If you could have lunch with anyone in Memphis, who would it be? Where would you go? My sister Kyla Hunt, aka “the drumma queen.” Not only that— she’s my older sister but also my best friend. We have the best conversations. I would take her to one of my favorite Hawaiian spots, ’Ono Poké, and drink some local Hawaiian beer. • ediblememphis.com 31
A Sample from Our Demystifying the classics with our favorite local bartenders
lmost every new drink created is derived from a short list of “classic” cocktails. These drinks are the foundation of modern cocktail culture. For this reason, it is especially important to know these classic cocktails today, and understand their place in history. With that in mind, the Edible Memphis guide to classic cocktails was developed with a focus on their often hazy origins and the local bartenders who have perfected them. Here’s just a taste of our Classic Cocktail Guide. Go to ediblememphis.com to read the entire guide.
The Negroni | Morgan McKinney | Bari The Negroni has made a massive resurgence. You can find it on almost any menu, and any decent bartender should be able to make a good one. This boozy, red-hued drink is among the top 10 most popular cocktails in the United States. It has its origins in early 1900s Italy, supposedly having been named after Italian general Count Negroni in 1919 Florence. Negroni was accustomed to ordering the ever-popular Americano, which is comprised of equal parts Campari (an Italian bitter citrus liqueur), sweet vermouth (a fortified wine) and sparkling water. The count decided he wanted a little more kick in his drink, and told the bartender to sub out the sparkling water for gin and, thus, the Negroni was born. When you get thirsty for this high-alcohol, bitter, gin-and-citrus-forward drink, head to Bari Ristorante in Overton Square. There you will find local bartender Morgan McKinney, who makes a damn good one. “A traditional Negroni is a 1:1:1 ratio of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth,’’ Morgan explains as she begins grabbing bottles from the back bar. “Many bartenders decide to measure an extra half ounce of gin, but I prefer the traditional recipe, as it lets the vermouth and Campari shine.” She begins measuring out each ingredient. “My preferred Negroni, that I make for people every shift, is equal parts Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino, and Campari stirred over ice and served on a large single rock of ice,” she says. Morgan pours the drink into an elegant glass and garnishes it with an orange twist. There is a wonderful citrus aroma from the twist, then bitter and citrus notes from the Campari. This is rounded out with sweetness from the vermouth, and then I am hit with botanicals from the gin. The drink is complex, especially for having so few ingredients. Morgan has been behind the bar for several years now, and she never disappoints. “I got my start in fine dining as a server at the Memphis staple Felicia Suzanne’s downtown,” she says. “I was given the opportunity to get behind the bar and jumped at the chance. Seeing high-end, quality cooking with good ingredients led to a curiosity with quality ingredients behind the bar.” She said she learned nothing but the classics there. “Chef Felicia was very specific about her bar. She wanted classics only, but done extremely well,” she says. Morgan learned to make the perfect cosmopolitan and Sazerac, both recipes she still uses to this day. She told us about her passion for cooking at home and how she is always learning how to pair flavors, a skill that translates into her drinks. At Bari, Morgan makes original daily special cocktails that range from simple and delicious to using some of the most interesting ingredients available, creating layers of complex flavors in a single drink. Start with a Negroni and then let Morgan guide you from there. 32 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
Classic Cocktail Guide BY BENNET T BROWN • PHOTOGR APHS BY ALE X SMY THE
Martinez | Pablo Mata | Catherine & Mary’s The Martinez is a Manhattan variation dating back to the 1880s from Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual. It is also the precursor to the martini, and the “right” recipe is just as highly contested. A classic Martinez uses Old Tom gin (a slightly sweeter variation than London Dry), sweet vermouth, orange bitters and maraschino cherry liqueur. It is a slightly sweeter, boozier gin variant of a Manhattan. This cocktail is not extremely popular or well-known, and Pablo Mata at Catherine & Mary’s wants that to change. “I always try and order a classic Martinez, then get told it’s called a martini and if I want vodka or gin,” says Pablo while he preps his bar for service. “I love this drink because of the wiggle room, and if you stick to the classic template, you can play around with your ingredients. I love trying new and different gins with a combination of sweet and dry vermouth.” Pablo got his start bartending in his hometown of Chicago. His grandmother owned a Mexican restaurant and tavern called Perla’s in the early ’90s. “My family has worked in bars for generations, and my mom really didn’t want me around the bar, but that just made me want to be there more, of course,” he says. Pablo didn’t learn a lot about drinks there—just how to make a bad margarita.
He moved to San Francisco in the late ’90s and began working in kitchens. Pablo began studying wine, and worked in the kitchen at A16. He left the kitchen for the bar after the restaurant scored a James Beard Award. “I really got into cocktails there, and I was coming up in the cocktail revival of the early 2000s when world-class bars were opening in New York and San Francisco,” he says. Pablo moved to Memphis in 2018, and began working at Alchemy in Cooper-Young. He was cold called by Catherine & Mary’s in January to work behind the bar. “I enjoy it here,” he says. “The standards are very high, and I couldn’t think of a better environment for this level of drinks.” Pablo says there is no correct way to make a Martinez; it’s all about preference. Pablo uses two ounces of Plymouth Navy Strength (57% abv) and splits the vermouth, using both sweet and dry—a half ounce each of Dolin dry and sweet vermouth. He adds orange bitters, and then a bar spoon of Luxardo maraschino liqueur. “This is just my small riff on the classic,” he says. Go visit Pablo and add this classic to your list of favorites. • ediblememphis.com 33
BEHIND THE BLADE The story of a chef ’s knife
BY C ANDICE BA X TER • PHOTOGR APHS BY JUS TIN FOX BURK S The perfect knife differs by chef, by task. Though none can quite articulate the connection, all admit it exists. “You just know,” they each said. Favorites come in all lengths and styles from various parts of the world, each carrying a story as unique as the hand that wields it.
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CHEF Tamra Eddy, Chef/Owner, Chef Tam’s Underground Café—7 inch Gotham Santoku She admits to sometimes having knife envy. Hers came from the “As Seen on TV” display at a forgettable box chain nine years ago when she started cooking. Twenty dollars for a two-piece set claiming to cut through anything. Her young son liked Batman. “I was hoping to connect with him, like on a superhero level,” she said. But he was not impressed. All these years later, after only one sharpening, it really does cut through anything, she says. Chef Tam’s most memorable dish was the Collard Green Pizza with Prosciutto she made to win Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network in April 2018. She won $16,000 with her Gotham. “People put a lot of emphasis on tools, not to say they’re not important, but where’s the love, the passion?” she said. “I’ll keep my cheap knife. It works. When you come from meager beginnings, you can take the least and make the most.” Erling Jensen, Chef/Owner, Erling Jensen: The Restaurant—10 inch F. Dick Chef ’s Knife Jensen bought his favorite knife more than 40 years ago in Denmark and brought it with him to this country. It was stolen in the early 2000s and he has an idea, but won’t say, by whom. Since then, he has chopped with a standard Wusthof like thousands of others. But he claims he would know his own by touch, the way a handle molds to the hand. “It’s like a nice pair of shoes,” he said. “You get them new, they feel good. Wear them awhile, they still feel good. Better.” For seafood, Jensen prefers a random Russell International he picked up at a private catering gig in Eads five years ago. He saw the foot-long blade, the light magnolia D-shaped handle sitting on the counter. “I picked it up. The guy who lived there, he said, ‘You like it? Take it.’ So I did. And I use it all the time,” he said. Win some. Lose some.
Dave Krog, Chef/Co-Owner, Dory—6 inch Homemade Honesuki (Japanese poultry knife) As he prepares for the opening of Dory in early 2020, the former Interim chef offers occasional Gallery dinners—a combination of pop-up art show and wine dinner. He also forges knives in his backyard and gives them away. A self-taught hobbyist, Krog learned from books and YouTube videos, then got started with straight razors. “I made this knife a few years ago as a birthday present for Zack Thomason, the chef at the Next Door American Eatery,” he said. “I converted a mini Weber grill into a forge, got some lump charcoal and a hairdryer. You can get up to 1,800 degrees with that little set up.” He hand-honed the single bevel, choosing not to grind out all the black hammer strikes, and crafted the handle from a piece of driftwood found on the bank of the Mississippi River. Now Krog has a workshop with a gas forge and all the tools, but less time for hobbies, with Dory’s opening on the horizon. The 1095 steel and oak for his own knife will have to keep. Nick Vergos, Co-Owner, Charlie Vergos Rendezvous—12 inch Forschner Victorinox Serrated Slicer His father started not with ribs, but with a spinning rack of bone-in hams sliced by long, straight French knives. The world-famous ribs came 15 years later, and they were cut with Forschner boning knives, blades from the same maker as Swiss Army. After 10 racks, they can still shave arm hair. Nick Vergos has used them his whole career, beginning in 1970 on cheese plates when everything was cut by hand. “You can’t build a house without good tools. You can’t fix a car without good tools. And you can’t work in a restaurant without good knives,” he said. “It’s your life blood.” While most basic serrated knives make for an easier cut, their sawing teeth, so tight and pointed, leave a jagged edge. Vergos says the Forschner is different: “There used to be a place called Smith’s Restaurant Supply on Main Street years ago. A guy found this slicer for me, and it changed my life. I’ve sliced 10,000 hams with my father’s knives, but this cut was almost effortless, and no jags on the ham.” • Memphis and the barbecue world lost an icon on September 5, 2019, when Nick Vergos passed away. Forschner knives continue to be a favorite in the Rendezvous kitchen. ediblememphis.com 35
BACK OF THE HOUSE
36 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
Dishwashers keep restaurants at the top of their game BY BIANC A PHILLIP S • PHOTOGR APHS BY MICHAEL BUTLER , JR . Restaurant Iris and Second Line, which share a kitchen, may have four cooks working on a busy night. Say, for example, they have 100 customers one evening, and each customer orders an average of three courses. That comes out to 300 plates, plus glasses, silverware and every pot and pan used to cook the food they order. All of those dishes have to be cleaned by just one or two people, depending on the night. Washing dishes is a tough job, one that Iris/Second Line Chef Kelly English says doesn’t get enough credit. “There are a lot of people who get credit in restaurants for making great things happen, but none of that can happen without the dishwasher,” English says. “In the early days of Iris, when we were still in opening cost mode, I’d ask my sous-chefs if they wanted to cut the cook or the dishwasher. Never ever did they say, ‘I want to keep the cook.’ It was always the dishwasher.” Chef Russell Casey at Bounty on Broad agrees: “You can’t run a restaurant without a dishwasher. It’s a position that often gets overlooked. But if that person doesn’t show up, you realize how much for granted you take that position. I’m super happy to have the two guys I have. They always show up, and they’re reliable.” One of those guys is Damien Curry, who has worked as a dishwasher for Casey off and on for almost 15 years. The two met when they both were working at the now-closed Inn at Hunt Phelan. “The man doesn’t miss a beat. Rain or shine, he’s going to ride his bike, ride the bus here or walk here. He never complains. I love him to death,” Casey says. Curry says he and Casey lost touch after Casey briefly moved to New Orleans to pursue his culinary career. But one day, a couple of years ago, he was walking his dog down Cleveland when Casey happened to drive by. The two talked and Casey offered Curry a job at Bounty. Curry had been looking for work, and after several interviews with no callbacks, he was giving up hope, but “something told me not to give up, to keep going,” Curry says. ediblememphis.com 37
“I’M THE QUARTERBACK. AND I KEEP EVERYTHING RUNNING.” —DAMIEN CURRY Curry understands the importance of his role in the kitchen. He likes to think of dishwashing like a game of football, and the dishwasher is the quarterback. “You need that quarterback. Without that quarterback, you’re not going to get nothing. Without the dishes, without us, you don’t get nothing done,” says Curry. “Everyone else are the players, and you need the quarterback to throw the ball. Without us, who is going to throw the ball? The wide receiver? The running back? Nah. I’m the quarterback. And I keep everything running.” Curry says he also cleans the bathrooms, the fridge and the area outside the restaurant. “Any time anybody needs help, I’m there,” he says. 38 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
Most restaurants require the dishwasher to do much more than simply cleaning the dishes. “On a busy night, when the dishwasher doesn’t show up, you don’t have pans to cook in. Worst case scenario, everybody pitches in and does a load here and there,” says Crosstown Arts Chef Raymond Jackson. “But more than the dishes, a lot of people don’t realize that the dishwashers are the people who keep your place clean.” At the café at Crosstown Arts—which serves coffee and pastries to the public, along with three meals a day to resident artists—dishwasher Mark Nixon is also responsible for changing the fryer oil, cleaning the fryer and cleaning the vents, among other duties.
“THERE’S NO OTHER JOB IN THE WORLD THAT BETTER PREPARES YOU FOR LIFE THAN BEING A DISHWASHER.” —BEN SMITH Nixon has washed dishes all over town, including Slider Inn, Trolley Stop Market and Lost Pizza Co., and he says each job required different additional duties. “I’ve been a backup line cook, backup pizza maker,” Nixon says. “I was a line cook and a dishwasher at Lost Pizza. The boss wanted us to be able to work every spot in the kitchen; some nights I worked in three spots.” Tsunami Chef Ben Smith, who has three dishwashers on staff, says dishwashing teaches life lessons that extend far beyond the kitchen. “There’s no other job in the world that better prepares you for life than being a dishwasher,” Smith says. “You’re working in a diverse environment, under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure. You have to meet deadlines. You have to be able to communicate with people. You have to be able to navigate cramped, loud, slippery environments without bumping into people. “It’s a dangerous environment. You’re dealing with sharp objects and hot pots and pans. It teaches you how to be respectful and how to deal with other people respectfully. It teaches you how to follow directions and how to delegate. It teaches you to deal with sometimes challenging personality types.” Tsunami dishwasher Tiffany Vann has worked all sorts of jobs (janitorial, hotel work, pawn shops), but this is her first dishwashing job and Smith says she’s “awesome.” Besides washing dishes, she’s also expected to do some light prep work (like peeling potatoes) and cleaning tasks, like taking out the garbage and cleaning the bathrooms. Though Smith says dishwashing can be incredibly stressful on a busy night at Tsunami, Vann modestly says, “I wouldn’t say it’s stressful, but there are times when it can get overwhelming.” For many dishwashers, the position is a foot in the door to other kitchen roles. Smith recently promoted a longtime dishwasher into a prep-cook position. In fact, Smith says “just about everybody” in his kitchen got their start washing dishes somewhere.
Raymond Jackson (left) and Mark Nixon ediblememphis.com 39
“IF I WASN’T HERE, WE’D BE IN A HOT MESS.” —CORTEZ GROVES
(From left) Donny Graham, James Thomas, Satchel Greenberg-Oster, Tiffany Vann and Ben Smith
“THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO GET CREDIT IN RESTAURANTS FOR MAKING GREAT THINGS HAPPEN, BUT NONE OF THAT CAN HAPPEN WITHOUT THE DISHWASHER.” —K ELLY ENGLISH “I don’t demand that. If someone comes in on a higher entry-level job, that’s fine. But it’s always a plus if they have washed dishes somewhere else,” Smith says. “Some people get out of culinary school and want to go straight to being a chef. I would never hire anyone like that, and I think it’s unfair to them. You miss out on so much by not working your way up from rock bottom.” Even Smith got his start washing dishes: “I cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis, as Tina Turner likes to say.” There are two types of dishwashers, according to Smith: those who are temporary and just working the job to pay the bills and those who aspire to move up in the kitchen. Smith’s lead chef of 18 years was the latter, as was his former sous-chef of 17 years. Cortez Groves at Restaurant Iris and Second Line is also the aspirational type. After just months of washing dishes at 40 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
English’s restaurants, Groves was asked to jump on the line and cook one night per week. “I cook the catfish and oyster po’boys. I cook it all,” Groves says. “I’ve been working in kitchens for years, and my family owns restaurants.” Groves knows the importance of his role as a dishwasher: “If I wasn’t here, we’d be in a hot mess.” English, who considers himself head dishwasher, says some nights are so busy that everyone has to jump in and help out with dishes. “There isn’t anyone in the kitchen who is above jumping in to help,” says English. “One of the most demoralizing things you can do is walk into work as a dishwasher, and there are dishes piled up past your head. That happens sometimes. It’s a hard job. It’s a position that’s the make-or-break job in the restaurant, and it’s probably the most underappreciated role.” •
RIGHT UP THEIR ALLEY Meet the couple behind the Edge district’s signature restaurant BY JEFF HULE T T PHOTOGR APHS BY HOUS TON COFIELD
42 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
Tim and Lena Barker were among the first to commit to the Edge district’s redevelopment. They’re seeing the fruits of their labor as the neighborhood grows and new businesses open.
hen Tim and Lena Barker, owners of Edge Alley, met in 2008, they each were managing different kitchens. Tim was at the Beauty Shop while Lena was running point downtown at Automatic Slim’s. They both worked a lot, as service industry folks do. Local restaurateur Karen Carrier owned both establishments and was about to sell Automatic Slim’s, an upscale staple of downtown for more than 20 years. Karen loved Lena’s work ethic so she created a position for her at the Beauty Shop and Do Sushi (now Bar DKDC). Lena helped create and execute the lunch menu at Do Sushi, Memphis’s first noodle bar, and helped take the Beauty Shop’s Sunday brunch to the next level. Unfortunately, Do Sushi didn’t make it, but Lena stayed on to work at and help Bar DKDC evolve. “The first time we met was at the Beauty Shop Christmas party at the original Gus’s Fried Chicken in Mason, Tennessee,” says Tim. “We were both newly single, and I could tell Karen was up to something.” At the time Lena was more into Tim’s friend. She liked Tim—but not in that way. Or so she thought. She was also not a fan of his beard. “Tim is very persistent and has a dry sense of humor, but once you get to know him, he’s hilarious,” adds Lena with a smile. Their first date was at the Orpheum Theatre to see the Ballet Memphis production of Barramundi. The ballet was great, but you can’t really get to know anyone at a performance. But afterwards they went to Young Avenue Deli with Tim’s friends from the cast and really started getting to know each other. The drinks were flowing, and meeting in a larger group made the interaction vibrant, exciting and fun. While Tim is a native Tennessean, growing up in nearby Martin, Lena is originally from Bangkok and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, when she was 14 to live with her aunt and uncle. Her parents believed that life in America would offer her opportunities that Thailand would not. Lena went to school during the day and in the evening worked at the family Thai-Chinese restaurant until she moved to Memphis.
Lena learned a lot at her family’s restaurant in Vegas, but what she remembers most is the customer service side of running an eatery—something she would carry over into her roles at Automatic Slim’s, Do Sushi, the Beauty Shop and now Edge Alley. Lena really loves guest interaction, while Tim’s strengths are in the back of the house. The couple got engaged in 2013. With Lena’s family living so far away, they decided to take a trip to Thailand to share the good news of their engagement. Tim couldn’t speak a lick of Thai, but before he knew it, they were saying their nuptials in front of all of Lena’s relatives. “I was so ready to marry Lena, so the ceremony was a welcome surprise,” says Tim. “My mom invited kids, elders, everyone,” Lena says. “It was their only chance to see the wedding. It was essentially a family reunion.” A traditional family ceremony with a modern twist, this was likely the only way for Lena’s family to share in the splendor of her wedding day. They made it official at a courthouse in downtown Memphis a few years later. These days, Tim is working 90 hours a week, pouring everything he has into Edge Alley and a new space—The Corner by Edge Alley—set to open in the Ballet Memphis building in Overton Square. Lena works at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital as a radiologic technologist but is still very involved with Edge Alley, especially during the busy weekends. Lena also manages all things administrative for Edge Alley. “The plan was for me to get out of the restaurant business and go back to school, so that’s what I did,” says Lena. “Then Tim decided to open a restaurant of his own. The restaurant is still very important to me, but I wanted to go back to school and change my pace of life as I’m getting older.” When Lena and Tim do find time to cook together, she tends to cook all types of Asian cuisine, including beef kimchi stew and pad thai. “I’m a one-pot wonder,” adds Lena. “I like to eat simply using lots of ethnic ingredients. Tim likes to use every pot and pan in the house when he cooks, but he can make anything.” ediblememphis.com 43
Lena loves spending time with Edge Alley’s customers, while Tim stays busy working behind the scenes. The couple also enjoy eating out, watching spy movies, discovering rare finds at estate sales and of course spending time with the other love in their lives, Sam, a chocolate pit mix. They say there are some things that people who know them only from their restaurant work might not realize about them. “She’s very good at being the face of Edge Alley, but she’s also much deeper of a person than people know,” Tim says of Lena. “Tim looks serious and straightforward; he speaks his mind and fights for what he believes in,” says Lena. “He is sensitive and passionate about his work.” Aside from spending most of his time at Edge Alley, Tim also runs Table and Bar Consulting Group, where he’s done restaurant and food-service design projects for establishments in markets from Chattanooga to Boulder. From studying at and eventually dropping out of the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, to opening up Edge Alley in a developing part of downtown Memphis, Tim is always willing to try new things. For instance, he included micro-retail as part of Edge Alley’s original concept. The Edge Alley spaces have evolved to include room for more seating, a space for an artist-in-residence program and an art gallery. Currently guests can catch artist Lexi Perkins at work and view original photographs from the Apollo 11 moon landing in the Shift + Gallery, curated by Ryan Adams. In November the gallery will feature contemporary and historic women photographers alongside vintage Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother. Tim says he’s pretty excited and even had to up his insurance! Edge Alley focuses on limited, seasonal menus for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. “We are one of only a handful of specialty coffee roasters in Memphis, and we have an amazing cocktail menu,” says Tim. “I want us to be great at what we do, rather than expanding our menus to the point where they become unmanageable.” Being in the Edge district before most others, Tim and Lena are ecstatic about the new developments coming their way. “Growth is paramount to the success of our neighborhood, so we are just thrilled to welcome more businesses, restaurants and tenants to the Edge,” says Tim. Some developments include apartments in the former Wonder Bread bakery site, Orion Credit Bank, The Ravine project, Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria and another Memphis Made Brewing Co. brewery. As far as their relationship goes, they are good at one thing—supporting one another. And part of that is pouring everything they have into Edge Alley. “From quality food to authentic service, we love that we get to share Edge Alley with everyone,” says Tim. • 4 4 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
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OFF THE EATEN PATH
C hicken Wings : A L ove S tory The couple behind Riko’s Kickin’ Chicken S TORY AND PHOTOGR APHS BY MICHAEL BUTLER , JR .
an we talk about love for a minute? Not just the love of food, but something deeper. Do you remember your first date? Where did you go? What did you do? Mine was to the movie theater in the Hickory Ridge Mall to see the movie Titanic. That seems like forever ago, and we can all admit Rose had more than enough room to let Jack on that piece of wood. Riko and Tiffany Wiley, who own Riko’s Kickin’ Chicken, definitely remember their first date. Why? It was to Memphis Style Wings (now closed) in North Memphis. So how did they go from a first date at a hot wing joint to owning their very own? It all started during a normal day at Trezevant High School in 2001. Tiffany, who transferred from East High School, was walking down the hall with her friend when someone bumped into her and made her drop her books. The bumper was Riko, and this was his smooth way of getting her attention. Later, in an even smoother move, he gave his number to Tiffany’s friend to give to her. One more note on Riko’s wily ways: He knew Tiffany was a senior. He was a freshman. Naturally, he told Tiffany he was a junior.
46 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
Hey, his methods might not have been the best, but they were effective. At the time, R iko only made $25 a week sweeping at his aunt’s beauty shop. That didn’t stop him from spending it all at Memphis Style Wings. He bet his whole check on Tiffany, and it worked! They’ve been together for 17 years (married for seven) and have three children (17, 11 and seven years old). I asked Riko how working every day with his wife affects their marriage. He looked me dead in my eye and said, “It’s made our marriage stronger and our love life even better!” I felt that! The duo haven’t always been coworkers. Riko started the company with a food truck in August 2014. Tiffany worked for FedEx and helped manage the social media. It wasn’t until they opened the restaurant on Madison Avenue in 2017 that they began working alongside each other. Now Tiffany runs the front of the restaurant while Riko works in the kitchen. Tiffany says that being completely honest with each other is what keeps their marriage strong. For example, she won’t let Riko send out a subpar order without checking him. You can’t do nothing but respect and admire that. That’s love, mane!
The Wileys say honesty and working together have made their marriage stronger. That love comes through in the foods they make as well. They have some of the best-seasoned wings I’ve had. I got to see firsthand how Riko makes them, and I was impressed. I keep hearing about his honey garlic sauce that is supposedly the best sauce on earth, but he was out the day I was there for this story. Riko says he can’t make the sauce fast enough and it’s gone as quick as he prepares it. I also hear there’s a secret menu, but neither Riko nor Tiffany would budge on the password or how to access it. One might need to be a Riko’s MVP to get this exclusive content. •
I LEARNED QUITE A BIT FROM MY TIME WITH THE WILEYS:
1. Fellas, you don’t have to go all-out on a date to impress a woman. That’s a pro tip. So much can be done with $25 and a little creativity. 2. If you want a lady, shoot the shot, mane. A simple hello should suffice in most situations. 3. The woman is always right. Trust me—you ain’t winning an argument. Just say, “You’re right, love,” and live to fight another day. 4. Take that woman to get some wings, and everything should be great from there.
Riko’s Kickin’ Chicken • 1329 Madison Avenue• @kickinchicken901 ediblememphis.com 47
SATURDAYS 8AM TO 1PM
South Front Street & G.E. Patterson
11/3 Farm Fest
“NOT YOUR ORDINARY PORK RINDS.
IT’S PAPA.” FOLLOW US
5p–8p (at Puck Food Hall)
11/23 Turkey Day Market 9a–1p
12/14 Homegrown Holiday Market 9a–1p
48 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
order now at PAPABEARSKINS.COM
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Unsolicited Advice for Restaurateurs
From someone who wants to spend her money on your food and write nice things about you BY S TACE Y GREENBERG • ILLUS TR ATED BY EMMA ME SKOVIC
’ve been writing mostly nice things about food for 15 years. I go out to eat a lot. It is one of my favorite things to do. Lately it seems that every time I turn around, I’m hearing of a new local restaurant opening up in Memphis, and I would love to see them all succeed. I have never been a waitress or owned a restaurant. However, I get invited to a lot of restaurant previews and I often notice little things
• Don’t break from traditional grammar rules when naming your restaurant. This actually makes writing about you difficult. Writers have to either explain your name or explain that they are purposely misspelling something. In grammar cases they may make a style decision to print your name according to traditional grammar rules anyway. • If your menu is four pages long, you are trying to do too much. It’s better to do a few things really well than to try to do too many things, at least in the beginning. • On your menu do not include pictures of food that you do not serve. Paying a professional, or skilled iPhone XR owner, to photograph your dishes can get you a lot of mileage both on your menu and online. But also, just using your words is fine (as long as you let a copy editor read them).
• Make sure the chairs are the right size for the tables. Don’t build that banquette until you know what tables and opposing chairs you are using. No one puts Baby in a corner, and no one wants to sit several inches below their dining companions.
that I wish the restaurateur knew about prior to opening; it’s often these details that can make or break a restaurant. One of my fantasies is to have my own consulting firm that swoops in and helps new businesses make easy fixes before opening day. But since that fantasy isn’t likely to become my reality any time soon, I’m contenting myself with writing this column. (I also have a fantasy about waitressing at the West Memphis Pancho’s for a weekend, so take this unsolicited advice with a grain of salt.)
• Set regular hours and keep them. Customers rely on the hours posted on your website (or Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, etc.) and if they find you closed when you should be open, there’s a chance they won’t come back. And there’s an even better chance they’ll tell their friends. So start slow—at first open up for just one meal a day, and if things are going well after six months or so, expand your hours. Two more thoughts on hours: 1) Stay open regular hours even if it is slow. 2) Decide your holiday schedule at the beginning of the year, not on a whim.
• People over 40 can’t read a 10-point font. I’m sorry. We wish we could. • If the tables wobble, make them stop wobbling. Sure, folded napkins work, but so do other, more permanent things.
• No one likes sitting on a bench. More to the point: No one old enough to pay the tab likes sitting on a bench.
• Let a copy editor read the menu before you print it or publish it online. It’s the best $35 you’ll ever spend. Dumbplings, noddles, sandwhiches… Shall I go on?
• Fast-casual preset tips on Square should be: No Tip, 10%, 15%, 20%. Eventually we will look up from our phones or check our bank statements and figure out that you put 25% first.
• Don’t serve the avocado if it’s brown. Brown avocados go in the compost bucket. • ediblememphis.com 49
Memphis women who set the bar. Memphisâ€™s people make her great. Our people come from all over, the city embraces them, connections are made, and our town becomes stronger. One of those connections is between Alex Castle, master distiller at Old Dominick Distillery, and Felicia Suzanne, acclaimed restaurateur and chef. A quick shared drink becomes a celebration of their work, their friendship and their city. Their supportive connection helps set the bar for creating beautiful food and drink here at home in Memphis.
ROAD THER APY
A DAY (OR TWO) IN OXFORD From gas-station snacks to locally sourced dinners, Oxford’s food offerings don’t disappoint BY S TACE Y GREENBERG PHOTOGR APHS BY RICHARD L AWRENCE
orget football—for me Oxford is all about food. It’s an hour-and-a-half drive, which makes it perfect for a day trip, but if you want to eat all of the things I’m about to mention, you might consider spending a night (or two). I typically stay at the Art Gallery Apartment (available through Airbnb) underneath the Oxford Treehouse Gallery; it’s a welcome retreat on a county road and less than seven miles from “the Square,” as downtown Oxford’s business district, built around the town square, is affectionately known. The apartment welcomes you with a big patio, chickens roaming the property, and a very friendly cat. The hosts are super nice and artsy, lead community bicycle rides, and let you wander around the gallery at will. They also leave their guests baked goods from Oxford’s Bottletree Bakery, and you can count on a few cold beers waiting in the fridge along with fresh milk and orange juice.
52 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
On our most recent visit, Richard—my favorite dude/emergency contact/photographer—and I stayed at the Graduate Oxford hotel, which is just off the Square. I really love the college theme with its preppy decor, stylish rooms, communal lobby and most especially the rooftop bar. It’s great to have a place close by to drop off shopping bags, store leftovers, relax and grab a cold beer between stops. (Check-in is 4 p.m., but we arrived early and were granted a room at 10:30 a.m. Probably not a possibility during football season, but worth a try when school is out!) The number one reason a foodie is going to Oxford is to eat at Saint Leo. This is a must. (But don’t go on a Tuesday, the one day they are closed!) Saint Leo specializes in wood-fired Italian cooking, in season, with locally sourced ingredients. Owner Emily Blount has done a great job of making this sweet little spot accessible to everyone. There are great happy hour specials—and, yes, you’ll have to try their famous Prosecco Pop (an organic raspberry and mint pop in a glass of Adami prosecco)—and brunch is on both Saturday and Sunday. Of course, you can also have a delicious pizza for weekday lunch or a full-on fancy date-night dinner. At brunch, Richard ordered the carbonara with Home Place Pastures pork jowl. After the one bite he was willing to share, I realized that I have never once come close to making a real carbonara at home. The carbonara alone is worth the drive, and the seasonal menu means there’s always something new to try. Emily was in town and generously gave us a tour of her new space, Saint Leo Lounge, just across the street. The lounge isn’t just for lounging; it was created with events in mind too. The large production kitchen allows for catering as well as making breads and pastries for the restaurant. They recently launched a fall tailgating menu. The regular bar menu features a second cocktail with a popsicle, cocktails on tap, and locally distilled gin from Wonderbird Spirits. (Read more about Wonderbird Spirits at ediblememphis.com.) There are a dance floor, disco ball and late-night hours.
Whether you’re going for brunch or dinner—or lunch or happy hour in between—Saint Leo’s seasonal menu highlights ingredients from local farms. ediblememphis.com 53
YOU WON’T FIND ANY GINGHAM HALTER TOPS HERE, BUT THEY DO HAVE A CAFÉ AND OVER 100 PRODUCTS FROM LOCAL FARMERS.
Snackbar Maybe you’ve heard of another local Oxford chef by the name of Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar? He was named the 2019 James Beard Best Chef: South. No big deal. Snackbar, part of fellow James Beard winner John Currence’s restaurant group, is a quarter mile off the Square in a strip mall. Don’t let the exterior fool you. Inside, the look is of an English hunting club, and Vish redefines his Southern dishes with flavors from India. It’s a dark, somewhat romantic space with a full bar, raw bar and happy hour every day except Sunday, when they are closed. (My kind of happy hour—$2 domestics, $3 drafts, $4 glasses of wine and $5 cocktails!) There’s a “Damn Fine Burger” (made with beef from Home Place Pastures), charcuterie, seafood, pasta and my favorite from the summer menu—watermelon-cucumber chaat. We stopped in for happy hour and found Vish in the kitchen. He’s incredibly soft-spoken and way too humble in light of his recent accolades. We couldn’t get him to model his James Beard medal but were thrilled to learn that he’s working on a cookbook that will tell his story. Speaking of, Square Books, which is the most magnificent independently owned bookstore in the South, has an incredible selection of cookbooks, many signed by the authors. I highly recommend thumbing through one or two with a cup of coffee on the second-story balcony. Just a few doors down, Off Square Books has the motherlode of cookbooks so be sure and check it out too. (Across the Square is The End of All Music, which, while not directly food related, could help improve the soundtrack to cooking at home.) Other fun shopping can be found at the Chicory Market. You won’t find any gingham halter tops here, but they do have a café and over 100 products from local farmers. It’s like a year-round, indoor farmers market, but it’s quite small and charming. They also feature other sustainable goods like you might see at Whole Foods. On the day we stopped by, Hugh Balthrop of Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co. was there buying blueberries to make his ice cream. Owner John Martin was also there and gave us some great local tips and talked to us about several of the products he sells. We picked up some locally roasted coffee from Heartbreak Coffee, some beef jerky and some Deaton’s Bee Farm honey. Next time, I’ll bring my appetite (and a cooler to load up on Home Place Pastures meats)! 54 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
Chicory Market calls itself “a community grocery for local farmers and people who like to eat the good fresh food they grow.” The market also features a café with outdoor seating, carryout and catering options.
WHERE TO STAY Art Gallery Apartment The Graduate Oxford
WHERE TO SHOP
Chicory Market The End of All Music Mid-Town Farmers’ Market, seasonally Off Square Books Oxford Community Market, seasonally Square Books Wonderbird Spirits
WHERE TO EAT
Oxford Canteen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with daily farmers market-inspired specials. For a quick snack before you head home, check out the chicken-on-a-stick at the 4 Corners Chevron. Oxford does indeed have a farmers market, two actually— The Mid-Town Farmers’ Market on Saturday and Wednesday mornings, May to October, and the Oxford Community Market on Tuesday afternoons, April to December. We visited the Saturday morning market in the parking lot that is home to Snackbar. Even though we weren’t actually in need of fresh produce, I always enjoy meeting the producers and seeing what’s new or different from Memphis. The Saturday market is flanked by two excellent breakfast options, so there’s that too. Standing in line for Big Bad Breakfast is definitely worth it if you’ve never been. We opted to try
4 Corners Chevron Big Bad Breakfast Oxford Canteen Saint Leo Saint Leo Lounge Snackbar Tarasque Cucina
4 Corners Chevron
the Oxford Canteen, which had no line and no waiting and offers breakfast tacos, avocado toast and iced Vietnamese coffee. Built in an old gas station, it’s super cute and has lots of patio space. Tarasque Cucina (which you also can read more about at ediblememphis.com) is another great farm-to-table spot that serves dinner and also offers private chef tastings for six to 10 people. (Friendsgiving, anyone?) Finally, should you find yourself in need of a snack for the road or something to sober yourself up, head to the 4 Corners Chevron for the most massive chicken-on-a-stick there ever was. • ediblememphis.com 55
ILLUSTR ATED BY ELIZ ABETH ALLE Y 56 edible MEMPHIS • FALL/ WINTER 2019
MOSA ASIAN BISTRO
COOPER STREET 20/20
GRECIAN GOURMET TAVERNA
Mosa Asian Bistro blends the bold flavors and savory spices found in classic Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisines. To make our Asian comfort food dishes, we use the freshest local ingredients, inspiration from family recipes and a modern approach. We offer dine-in and carryout for lunch and dinner, along with catering.
If you have eyes for healthy, flavorful food that’s ready to take home and heat, Cooper Street 20/20 is your place. For a special occasion or just dinner in front of your favorite show, a five-star meal is only an oven away. With more than 25 years in the restaurant business, owner Kathy Katz creates fresh, prepared foods, using local ingredients whenever possible.
Grecian Gourmet Taverna is a local, familyowned-and-operated business in the heart of the South Main Arts District. We pride ourselves on sharing our delicious, authentic Greek cuisine in a comfortable and friendly environment, while creating great experiences for our customers.
mosaasianbistro.com 901.683.8889 850 South White Station Road
CARITAS COMMUNITY CENTER AND CAFÉ Caritas means “love of all people.” Caritas Community Center and Café in Binghampton fuse together art, food, music, hospitality, theater, self-help classes and open, cross-cultural conversation to creatively nourish people from all ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. They are a crossroads for the rich and poor, young and old, liberal and conservative, foodie and non-foodie alike.
cooperstreet2020.com 901.871.6879 800 South Cooper Street
thegreciangourmet.com 901.249.6626 412 South Main Street
MARKET PL ACE
MEMPHIS MADE BREWING CO. Drew Barton and Andy Ashby opened Memphis Made Brewing Co. in October 2013. They sell three year-round beers (Cat Nap, Fireside and Junt) as well as dozens of limited-run beers to more than 300 accounts throughout the city. Memphis Made’s taproom is located in Cooper-Young and is open Thursday through Sunday.
caritasvillage.org 901.327.5246 2509 Harvard Avenue
Thank you to these locally owned businesses that make Memphis a better, tastier city.
We bring locally raised, all-natural meat and eggs from our farm to your table. Our products include pasture-raised poultry, grass-fed beef and lamb, and Tamworth and Mangalitsa pork. You can find us every Saturday at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market.
With jazz in the air, our inspired culinary artists get to work daily, squeezing, slicing and prepping our products for your enjoyment. A well-balanced menu of air, land and ocean meets storied and newage cocktails. Find us in the charming and rejuvenated South Main district.
Comeback Coffee strives to serve quality products while providing a place to belong. Grab a drink or bite to eat and stay awhile.
renaissancefarmstn.com 731.764.0341 195 Leadford Lane Saulsbury, TN
pontotoclounge.com 901.207.7576 314 South Main Street
memphismadebrewing.com 901.207.5343 768 South Cooper Street
comeback.coffee 901.610.0906 358 North Main Street
share a sip responsibly.
If you like your bourbon with a story, then pull up a chair. set the bar.
Our 45th issue focuses primarily on restaurants: chefs, owners and behind-the-scenes.