Why Bacon is Great: Stanton Webster

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Stanton is a wine lover, cocktail maker extraordinaire and amazing chef. He’ll be cooking up some bacon goodness with the rest of our dream team at BaconFest Barfood and Corsair Artisan Distillery. Tickets HERE.

Why do you like cooking with bacon?
I really enjoy the depth of flavor with bacon. Great smoky, savory, unctousness…it’s summer tent revival religion with pork fat and smoke. It speaks from that part of my soul that is caught up in Southern. Bacon is dancing with your best lady friend to a Faron Young tune, it’s Grandpa Jones singing about 8 more miles to Louisville. Bacon is Saturday night at the Opry listening to a handful of different dudes named Hank and none of them are a Williams. Bacon is like the party Roger Miller and George Jones used to have. Bacon is the knowledge that you would rather “drink muddy water and sleep in a hollow log, than be in Atlanta treated like a dirty dog.” Also, by its general nature, bacon dissuades one from cooking while naked.

What is your favorite thing about cooking in Knoxville?
I really enjoy the community of Knoxville. I truly appreciate that the same folks we’re feeding on Saturday night, I’ll be saying hello to on my way to the bank Monday morning. I also really enjoy the fact that even if I am not present for a shift at work, if something goes wrong folks will reach out to me. We got each other’s back in this town.

If you could have a meal cooked by anyone living or dead who would it be?
I would love to have broken bread with Richard Olney.

All Pigs…

Friday, September 9th, 2011

…All the time over here at Mockingbird HQ. BaconFest is next week. There are tickets still available for Traditional Smokehouse Discussion, BaconBits, and BaconFest Barfood HERE.

Why Bacon is Great: Ben and Amy Willis-Becker

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Ben and Amy Willis-Becker are the masterminds behind Harry’s Delicatessen on Gay Street. They work magic with cured meat, fresh produce, and bring some old school favorites into the twenty-first century. They will be part of the team of chefs for the BaconFest Barfood and Corsair Artisan Distillery night. Tickets HERE.

Why do you like cooking with bacon?
It takes all other foods, sweet & savory, to a whole different (and we think) better level.

What is your favorite thing about cooking in Knoxville?
Being able to be part of the community that we grew up in & contribute to the local movement.

If you could have a meal cooked by anyone living or dead who would it be?
Amy’s granny


Why Bacon is Great: Matt Gallaher

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Matt Gallaher will be bringing his culinary magic to BaconFest Barfood and Corsair Artisan Distillery night as well. Get your TICKETS!

Why do you like cooking with bacon?
Bacon has enjoyed a surge in popularity recently and the rest of the country has fallen for the smoky, porky treasure that we in East Tennessee have known for years; Alan Benton’s Bacon.  Countless magazines, bacon enthusiasts and Celebrity Chefs have lauded his efforts.  Benton’s is intensely smoky and only die-hard bacon lovers will replace their breakfast bacon with Benton’s.  But it is this smoke that sets Benton’s apart from the pack and it shines in a supporting role, whether in a pot of beans or elevating the BLT to new heights.  Since I was first introduced to Benton’s Bacon at Blackberry Farm in 2003 it has been a staple in my repertoire.  I’m so pleased to see Alan enjoy the recognition that his dedication to this honest, artisanal, Appalachian product deserves.

What is your favorite thing about cooking in Knoxville?
My introduction to working in restaurants began at age 9 in my mother’s restaurant.  Small and independently owned, I was exposed to the sacrifice and dedication that goes into a chef-driven and chef-owned business.  Over the next several years I began to realize how special these places really are.  Knoxville expanded further and further West and countless major chain restaurants took advantage of the sprawl and set up shop here.  We saw the landscape of Knoxville restaurants change in a big way…the paradigm was shifting.  Some Knoxville landmarks (The Torch, The Roman Room and, more recently, Harold’s, Regas Restaurant and Patrick Sullivan’s) have closed and with each closing we lose some character and Appalachian spirit to the chains.  But the culture is slowly turning back to the small business owner.  We still have Tomato Head, Pizza Palace and  Ye Olde Steak House going strong and we see new, chef owned places opening all the time.  So, I suppose my favorite thing about cooking in Knoxville is that I see a bright future for small, independent restaurants and I hope the culture in Knoxville will continue to nurture and support this trend.

If you could have a meal cooked by anyone living or dead who would it be?
Hmmm. it’s not easy to pick just one.  Some names immediately jump to mind:  Auguste Escoffier, Julia Child, Jean Louis-Palladin.  But those talents have passed on and, being a realist, I turn my thoughts to those still with us.  I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensively in the US and around the World and have enjoyed some amazing meals along the way.  However, the only restaurant that I really regret missing in my travels is Au Pied De Cochon in Montreal.  Martin Picard is renown for taking indulgence to a new level with his Foie Gras-centric menus. Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods have both featured the chef’s sometimes over-the-top feasts.  In the hands of an amateur, a meal based on a rich delicacy such as Foie Gras could quickly become gluttonous.  But Chef Picard is able to bring a much broader perspective to his menus at PDC (as the locals call it).  He finds the best of what’s available locally and showcases beautiful Pork, Maple Syrup, Red Deer and amazing Seafood in addition to the fatty Duck Liver.  Although not without controversy, especially from animal rights activists, Chef Picard fiercely defends responsible fishing and farming practices and the traditional cooking techniques of his French training.

Why Bacon is Great: Holly Hambright

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Holly Hambright will be cooking up a creative storm, as she is wont to do, at the BaconFest Barfood and Corsair Artisan Distillery night. Get your tickets NOW!

Why do you like cooking with bacon?
I like cooking with bacon because no matter how you slice it, it’s always satisfying.

What is your favorite thing about cooking in Knoxville?
I like cooking in Knoxville because I can feed my family more easily.  “Oh there’s no place like chrome for the hollandaise”

If you could have a meal cooked by anyone living or dead who would it be?
I would like to have Jean Louis Palladin’s food just once more.  The most memorable restaurant meal in my life.  Ever.

More info about Holly:
“I’m so Old School, I’m New School”

Holly Hambright’s reason for choosing the culinary field at first was strictly financial. Floundering at the University of Tennessee in a field of low demand and high competition (music), she felt her vocational time clock ticking and believed that at 22, had only a short time to rethink her professional direction.

She had experienced two seasons cooking at a large summer camp on Watts Bar Lake. A gourmet’s nightmare yes, but to hear an 8 year old exclaim that Holly’s spaghetti was better than his mom’s was at that time inspirational for her plus, the hard work and instant gratification of providing one of the most basic needs for people was very satisfying. Believing she had found her calling, Holly left UT to attend Baltimore’s Culinary Arts Institute graduating #1 in her class in 1983. In 1998 she completed graduate studies at the School for American Chefs in St. Helena, California with Madeline Kamman.

Holly has held the positions of Executive Pastry Chef, Executive Sous Chef and Executive Chef in various luxury hotels in Baltimore, Washington, DC, Boston, and Bermuda feeding such notables as Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand, Mrs. Anwar Sadat, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Barry Tuckwell, Barbara Bush, Lamar Alexander, the Gipsy Kings, Neil Diamond, Christopher Plummer and Presidents Ford and Clinton. Over the years, Holly developed a playful and creative culinary style blending her Southern heritage and classic technique into memorable, boldly flavored comestibles.

Holly has learned (and forgotten) much over the past28 years but the main takeaway is that one will never be “just a chef.” It’s not just the long hours spent cooking and being a technician because there is so much more to it. The opportunity to share her knowledge and experience, the vision to inspire and achieve common goals, to promote the profession by developing and promoting her staff has brought Holly to the understanding that one “gets” what one “gives”.

BaconFest UPDATE!

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Swine and Dine Sold Out / Jennifer Niceley to Play BaconBits + Judges / Husk + Bon Appetit

Swine and Dine Sold Out!

Thanks to everyone who bought tickets and packages the last tickets to Swine and Dine were sold on Friday! Don’t fret though. There are still plenty of tickets to the Traditional Smokehouse discussion, BaconBits, BaconFest Bar Food and Corsair Artisan Distillery at the Public House. Tickets available HERE.

Jennifer Niceley to Play BaconBits + Judges

Jennifer Niceley will be serenading us after we’ve crowned our BaconBits winners! If you haven’t heard her this will be the perfect setting, under the stars with a picnic! “Jennifer Niceley imbues her songs with a feel for the spacious expanses of earth and sky, an appreciation for the wonder of the natural world, and the clear understanding of the importance of quietly, determinedly shaping one’s own artistic voice in the most personal way imaginable…” (Dave Curtis) Now living back on her family’s farm outside of Knoxville, Jennifer has recently released a small collection of songs from being back home, called Body+Soul EP. For the picnic performance she’ll be joined by Nashville pair Jon Estes on upright bass and Liz Langford playing fiddle.

Also our allstar panel of judges is official: Mary Constantine, Ashley Capps, Amy Hubbard, and Jim Sexton will be doing the hard, hard work of tasting all your bacon offerings! Is your dish ready? Have you pre-ordered your picnic dinner? All info HERE. This is going to be a lovely eve!

Husk + Bon Appetit

This month Husk, the newest restaurant from one of our Swine and Dine guest chefs Sean Brock, was named the TOP restuarant in the country by Bon Appetit magazine. We are super excited that he will be bringing his cooking talents to BaconFest this year. You can read about Husk from Bon Appetit here. As the author Andrew Knowlton says, “Brock isn’t reinventing southern food or attempting to create some citified version of it. He’s trying to re-create the food his grandma knew–albeit with the skill and resources of a modern chef. As a result, he (and Husk) has become a torchbearer for an honest style of home cooking that many of us never truly tasted until now.”

A Bacon Timeline

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

This is way too funny. From the Seattle Weekly. Please go read the article as well. Priceless. “We need to let bacon be bacon once again.” Agreed.