Who wins when best downtown bartenders compete?

Zach Gillani of Sapphire won second place for “Power Up,” a drink spicy with ginger that included vodka, tomatillo solution, Rushy Springs Farm Manzanilla pepper shrub, bell pepper oleo saccharum, Reed’s ginger beer and shaved ginger root. Very original. A “shrub” is a vinegar-based syrup; an “oleo saccharum” is citrus peels ground in sugar.

They called it the Tomato Jam and it was a spirited (ha!) event held yesterday to benefit Nourish Knoxville, the non-profit that runs the Market Square Farmers’ Market and other outreach programs designed to make us a healthier community.

The drinks competition pitted eight bartenders from some of downtown’s best-known restaurants and bars against each other in an attempt to make the best tomato-based cocktail from locally grown produce.

Attendees at the event, held at the Mill & Mine, voted on their favorites and here were the winners:

First Place: J.C. Holdway and bartender Micah Talley for a drink called “Don’t Go Bacon My Heart.”

Second Place: Sapphire and bartender Zach Gillani for a drink called “Power Up.”

Third Place: The Drawing Room at the Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel and bartender Kyle Hagerty for a drink called “The Cherokee Leg Bruise.

Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville | 8 Comments

Clarence Brown Theatre annual trip to New York City: octopus pastrami, chocolate soup (oh, and plays!)

Alan Carmichael outside “War Paint,” one of the three Broadway plays on the Clarence Brown Theatre’s annual New York trip. We loved it.

Going to New York is always fun, but you can have a particularly good experience if you go with like-minded people. That’s why the Clarence Brown Theater’s annual New York excursion is so special. (That and the food, of course!)

Cal MacLean, the theater’s artistic director, and his super competent staff generally put together a trip you might not be able to pull off by yourself. And Cal has a wonderful knack for selecting plays that will end up with a slew of Tony nominations.

This year, for instance, the three plays were “OSLO,” which garnered seven nominations and won the Tony for Best Play; “Hello, Dolly!” which received 10 Tony nominations and won for Best Musical Revival and Lead Actress in a Musical, which went to Bette Midler; and “War Paint,” which got four nominations and starred stalwarts Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole. Continue reading

Filed under: Food, Theater, Travel | 13 Comments

NouxBarb: Eat here, get gas!

Chef Bruce Bogartz and Glo Klarich at NouxBarb last week.

(UPDATE: Since this item was posted on July 10, Chef Bogartz has exited this project. Click here for a News Sentinel story regarding that decision.)

Ha. That’s the slogan that Glo Klarich, maitre d’ of chef Bruce Bogartz’ newest eating venture, jokingly put forth. It’s pretty funny considering that you actually can do both there.

While several eateries have opened in the location of former gas stations — think Balter Beerworks and Full Service BBQ — this is different because it is a sit-down restaurant with tablecloths and wait staff in a fully functioning gas station. Located at 401 S. Northshore Drive at Moe’s Market & Deli, Bogartz officially started his sit-down dinner service last week.

“My goal is to be the best restaurant in Knoxville – and be in a gas station,” Bogartz said while table-hopping on Thursday.

Bogartz has been running restaurants in Knoxville for more than 20 years. I loved Primo in the Sunsphere when he was there not too long ago. Prior to that, he had a restaurant called Bogartz in Homberg Place and, for a long time, RouXbarb on Northshore across the street from his current location. He calls his new place NouxBarb (New-barb), a hat-tip to his former restaurant. Continue reading

Filed under: Business, Food, Knoxville | 14 Comments

Betsey Bush: She was “all in”

Betsey Bush, left, and her stepdaughter Sarah Nuckolls at the opening of the Knoxville Symphony Show House in 2012. Sarah spoke at Betsey’s funeral yesterday.

If you had wanted to merge together all the arts organizations in Knoxville, you could have taken a vote on it yesterday at the memorial service for philanthropist and community enthusiast Betsey Bush.

Leaders of all the major institutions were there at Second Presbyterian Church, from the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Knoxville Opera and the Knoxville Museum of Art to garden and history lovers of every stripe. Betsey loved and supported them all. Nine musicians from the Knoxville Symphony performed during the hour-long service, as did Brenda Goslee on the magnificent Condon Bush Memorial Organ, which Betsey funded after her late husband, canning magnate Condon Bush, passed away in 2003. Continue reading

Filed under: Knoxville | 29 Comments

Solstice Supper survives soaker

Tom and Anna Ford. Anna is a board member of the Knoxville Botanical Garden and even served as interim executive director while the search was on that resulted in the good decision to hire Jim Richards.

We go to the Solstice Supper at the Knoxville Botanical Garden every year and find the al fresco dining to be magical. But, even though we like eating outside — especially at a dinner celebrating the season — we sure were glad the organizers moved it inside this year.

With whipping winds and rain coming down in intermittent sheets, it would have been a disaster. So the Garden’s beautiful new events venue, Dogwood Center, was a lifesaver. The committee even brought the twinkle lights inside!

Caterer Rex Bradford Jones sourced many of the ingredients for the menu from area farms, with some even coming from the Botanical Garden’s own Center for Urban Agriculture. Started in 2013, the Center for Urban Agriculture was created to prepare local communities to cultivate healthy produce and sustainable lifestyles. Folks from children to seniors can work in the garden and reap the delicious results. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville | 10 Comments

Ordinary couple, extraordinary evening

Orin Kennedy, left, and Bernardo Puccio at a cocktail party in their honor in downtown Knoxville last week.

A little bit of old Hollywood glamour came to Knoxville last week as Positively Living, the organization that supports those touched by AIDS, hosted the premiere of the updated version of “An Ordinary Couple” at the Bijou Theatre.

The documentary film tells the story of Orin Kennedy and Bernardo Puccio and their 40-year relationship over a period of time when it was illegal to be gay, when AIDS ravaged the gay community and, finally, when same-sex marriage was legalized.

The original version of the film was produced 11 years ago when the pair, offended that they couldn’t legally marry, decided instead to throw themselves a party in a cemetery and unveil the special monument they had commissioned featuring both their names. That party was even covered by the Los Angeles Times (click here). Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Knoxville, Theater | 10 Comments

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