A Big Orange welcome for new athletics director

From left, Greg Dunn of Regal Entertainment Group, Dave Miller of First Tennessee Bank, Chancellor Beverly Davenport, Athletics Director John Currie, Mary Lawrence Currie, Jim Haslam of Pilot Flying J and David Hall of the University of Tennessee Medical Center line up for a photo of all the sponsors. (Photo by Charley Sexton)

More than 200 community and business leaders gathered at the Knoxville Convention Center last week to be utterly charmed by the University of Tennessee’s new athletics director, John Currie. For his part, Currie seemed equally enamored with Knoxville. Continue reading

Filed under: Business, Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville, Uncategorized, UT sports | 10 Comments

Dale Dickey does hometown proud

Actress Dale Dickey was overcome by emotion upon being recognized by the Clarence Brown Theatre.

Actress Dale Dickey is a Knoxville treasure. The Clarence Brown Theatre and her alma mater, the University of Tennessee, recently recognized her as such with the Clarence Brown Theatre Artistic Achievement Award, presented at the theater’s annual gala.

Held at the Jackson Terminal in Knoxville’s Old City, the event featured an “Around the World in 80 Days” theme in salute to the Clarence Brown’s recent season-closing performance of the play. Dickey was visibly moved by the salute presented by actress Carol Mayo Jenkins and Cal MacLean, the Clarence Brown Theatre’s artistic director.

“I owe everything to my family and friends and the Clarence Brown Theatre and the University of Tennessee,” Dickey said in accepting the award. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville, Theater | 12 Comments

Fried caper dust and a little night music!

Edie Volk, past president of the Knoxville Symphony League, with former KSO Concertmaster Gabriel Lefkowitz at one of his last performances before his move to Louisville, Kentucky.

Music by the Knoxville Symphony. Wine from Randy and Jenny Boyd’s Argentinian vineyard. Perfect weather on the lake. And food featuring such exotic elements as fried caper dust, house made elk duxelle ravioli and fried squash blossoms.

What could be better? Oh, yeah. Fireworks!

It was that kind of night recently at Tellico Village Yacht Club as Chef Bill Minkert pulled out all the stops to give KSO fans a Sunday night to remember. Symphony Board member Tom Shaw and his wife, Evelyn, sponsored the fireworks show, which we dubbed “Shaw-boom!”

It also was one of our last chances to get up close and personal with Gabe Lefkowitz, the KSO’s popular young concertmaster who is leaving Knoxville after seven years to assume the same position with the Louisville Orchestra in Kentucky, where he will share a music stand with his girlfriend, Julia Noone. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Music | 13 Comments

Marblegate ’17: A charming Sunday evening

When you sit at a table with Dick Ray, you get to see everybody! Here, Mary Alice Tucker, left, and Barbara Arant stop by to greet him.

I’ll be honest. We have never been to the Marblegate event before. It benefits the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. It is a good cause, and all, but we just can’t go to everything — try as we might. We really bought the tickets for this past Sunday’s Marblegate because we wanted the tours of the renovations at Lakeshore Park that were being offered as part of the purchase price.

But, alas, the tours were canceled because of rain. No matter. With Holly Hambright handling the catering, Jerry Kruse and The Pour Guys pouring libations and a convivial crowd on a Sunday evening, it was a delightful time, anyway. And we realized we scored the best table in the house when we saw our old friends Dick Ray and Carolyn Forster there along with Joe and Becky Swann! They said it was “the Blount County table,” but they let us take our seats there anyway. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville | 16 Comments

Blackberry, Lonesome Dove beckon writers to return

Allan Benton of Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams with freelance writer Jennifer Cole after dinner at Blackberry Farm.

It would be foolish not to believe that a huge part of the draw of the annual Southern Food Writing Conference is the chance to have dinner at acclaimed Blackberry Farm in nearby Walland, Tennessee.

And this is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Blackberry Farm certainly benefits by exposure to writers from magazines and newspapers ranging from Martha Stewart Living and Better Homes & Gardens to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Being active in Knoxville’s non-profit and cultural community, we get a chance to eat at Blackberry Farm a few times a year at various fundraisers and events. But, take it from me, the best dinner of all is when the food writers are visiting. The wine pours just seem a little more generous and the stellar service is even more spot on. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Journalism, Knoxville, Media | 14 Comments

Food writing conference whets visitors’ appetites

Chef Joseph Lenn and cookbook author Ronni Lundy during the dinner at J.C. Holdway to kick off the Southern Food Writing Conference.

The Southern Food Writing Conference always brings a bevy of heavy hitters in the journalism and cookbook writing world to Knoxville and this year’s conference, held here earlier this month, was no exception.

Writers and editors from Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living, Martha Stewart Living, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Atlanta Magazine, The Charlotte Observer, Epicurious, Charlotte Living and Birmingham Magazine were among the 80 or so conference attendees who met here and, in the process, dined at some of our area’s finest eateries and were fed by some of our best known chefs.

I love how this conference, which starts with an optional Wednesday night dinner, extends through Friday evening and blends seamlessly into the weekend’s International Biscuit Festival. Biscuitfest organizers, also responsible for the writing conference, take advantage of the visiting food biz celebrities by having them judge the various biscuit baking contests that Saturday brings. It’s a match made in foodie heaven. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Journalism, Knoxville, Media | 10 Comments

My three tips for unbeatable Biscuitfest experience

Chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro from OliBea, the breakfast and lunch spot in the Old City, called his offering “The Dirty Sanchez.” It featured chorizo gravy and carne machaca. Had huge lines.

The 2017 International Biscuit Festival, i.e., Biscuitfest, has come and gone. Saturday’s weather was beautiful, if steamy, and this year’s event featured more vendors and 50 percent more biscuits than last year, according to festival founder and “biscuit boss,” John Craig.

Once again, the footprint expanded to include Market Street, Church Avenue and Clinch Avenue in downtown Knoxville, allowing more room to move around for the teeming hordes of biscuit lovers. In addition to sampling gourmet biscuits, you could listen to live music on the Flatbed Music Stage (literally a flatbed pickup truck parked at the corner of Church Avenue and Gay Street), watch biscuit-making demonstrations, cheer on your favorites in the baking contest, root for the best Mr. or Miss Biscuit in a kooky pageant and purchase any number of biscuit-related items.

This was the eighth annual Biscuitfest and, from our downtown condo at the corner of Market Street and Church Avenue, we can see everything from beginning to end. So, here are three tips I think you should follow next year to have the best Biscuitfest experience ever: Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville | 7 Comments

UT Gardens Gala: over-the-top food on a fun Friday

The food at this event is super creative. Here’s the salad course: a wine poached pear sliced and layered with greens, goat cheese and walnuts on a bed of mesclun greens.

We go to a heck of a lot of events every year and sometimes they all kind of blend together. Very few stand out. But the UT Gardens Gala does. I’m not sure why, but there’s just something different about the vibe at this event.

It’s normally held on a Friday, which is a day when we really want to relax. It’s held outside, which is fitting, of course, for an event benefiting a garden. And the food, prepared by culinary students from the University of Tennesse and Pellissippi State Community College, is excellent — and creative. Not your normal fare.

Another plus: the auction items, most of which are garden related, are different from the run-of-the-mill offerings at many other events.

This year was the fifth for the UT Gardens Gala. Sherri Lee, herself a gardener extraordinaire, was the honorary host of the event, which also honored the Knoxville Garden Club, founded in 1923, of which Lee is a member.

Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville | 5 Comments

Knoxville’s best neighborhood (at least, for me!)

You don’t see this outside your window in Sequoyah Hills! This is shot from Unit 201 of the J.C. Penney Building at 416 S. Gay St.

No neighborhood in Knoxville has as much variety of residential options as does downtown. That’s why the City People organization has been able to conduct a downtown home tour every year for decades. The 2017 version was this past weekend and featured 11 homes — large, small, rental and owner occupied.

On the tour, we met residents who ranged from students to retirees and working professionals. All were attracted to downtown living by the vibrant vibe and myriad social opportunities that downtown offers.

Alan and I lived in two suburban neighborhoods before purchasing our downtown condo about eight years ago. And they were considered “good” neighborhoods — Concord Hills and Sequoyah Hills. But neither felt as much like a real neighborhood as does downtown Knoxville. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 19 Comments

Victuals, veterans and a pinch of politics

Ruth Coughlin was a Navy nurse for five years during World War II.

The garden party this week at Eddie Mannis’ beautifully restored historic home on Kingston Pike was memorable for several reasons:

  • Mannis confirmed that he is running for Knoxville mayor;
  • All the delicious food was prepared, not by a caterer, but by the evening’s hosts;
  • 94-year-old Ruth Coughlin was an absolute delight telling about her trip to Washington on HonorAir Knoxville and her five years as a Navy nurse.

The party was part of the Knoxville Symphony League‘s “Elegant Dining” series of fundraising events. HonorAir, founded in 2007 by Mannis, is a twice-a-year daylong trip to Washington, D.C., to allow East Tennessee veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to visit the war monuments there. The trip is free for the veterans. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville, Politics | 12 Comments