The Plaid Apron offered biscuits named “Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch” on Biscuit Boulevard Saturday.
So said Food Network star Tyler Florence, who made an appearance in Knoxville this past weekend as part of the wildly successful International Biscuit Festival held downtown.
Florence’s show at the Tennessee Theatre on Sunday night, where he taped a podcast that he said will be put on his website in the next few days, was the climax of a series of unbelievably fun events that attracted more than 20,000 folks to the celebration of all things biscuit.
A party called The Biscuit Bash Friday night at The Standard kicked off the biscuit festivities just as the Southern Food Writing Conference, held Thursday and Friday, was closing out. Folks gathered to drink moonshine, beer and wine, meet some of the authors who had been in town for the writing conference, and listen to country music by Hank Williams’ granddaughter, Holly Williams, and 9-year-old Emi Sunshine, who was the opening act.
Saturday brought “Biscuit Boulevard,” a couple of blocks along Market Street, where for a $10 ticket, visitors could select five biscuits to sample from more than 20 vendors. The crush of biscuit lovers presented a veritable gridlock for several hours Saturday morning, but it was made bearable by an eclectic series of musical acts that played from the back of an antique flatbed truck set up at the corner of Market Street and Church Avenue (right beneath our bedroom window, but I’m not complaining).
There were baking contests and demonstrations from noon to 4 p.m. and, my favorite thing, the Blackberry Farm Biscuit Brunch set up in Krutch Park from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. A Miss or Mr. Biscuit Pageant also added to the entertainment options.
I agree with some others who said the footprint for this event might need to be a little larger next year to accommodate the ever-expanding crowd. This was the fifth year for the festival, and it is just so much darn fun it can’t help but grow. Apparently, there are an endless number of ways to enjoy a biscuit and nobody wants to miss any of them.
When we awakened at 8 a.m. on Saturday, the crowd already had begun to form. Biscuits weren’t available until 9 a.m.
Knoxville’s Tomato Head was passing out a biscuit named “Ms. Pearl.” It was a buttermilk biscuit with corn, tomato and Benton’s bacon.
The Hilton brought curry chicken salad biscuits.
Asheville’s Biscuit Head was giving out something called “Country Fried Dream.” It was country fried steak, tomato, arugula and gravy on top of a biscuit. Wow.
Applewood Farmhouse from Sevier County served “Granny’s Cran-apple Biscuits.”
Tupelo Honey Cafe offered this “Peach of a Chicken Biscuit” on Biscuit Boulevard.
Here’s Elizabeth Sims staffing the Tupelo Honey Cafe booth.
Mini sweet potato biscuits were offered by Highland Bakery from Atlanta.
Highland Bakery also turned out cute little mini sour cream biscuits.
Former magistrate Robert Murrian and his wife, Sue, are fellow downtown residents enjoying the festivities.
Knoxville’s Sundress Academy for the Arts had “Simon and Garfunkel Biscuits” with bourbon peach-glazed ham.
This is a pork belly and pear moonshine biscuit from Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop.
Nashville’s Capitol Grill had strawberry-rhubarb buttermilk biscuits.
Well, you get the idea! Yum, yum!
Here’s a look at the fun little party that kicked off everything on Friday evening.
Sugarlands Shine from Gatlinburg provided the moonshine portion of our libations.
Our buddies, from left, Erin Donovan, Becky Hancock and Angie Wilson.
Chef Matt Gallaher of Knox Mason kept our hunger at bay. These are his version of Saltine crackers with chicken liver pate and rhubarb conserves.
Shelton Farm asparagus tarts with Kentucky coppa from The Curehouse and smoked Cruze Farm creme fraiche.
Benton’s Bacon popovers, local ramp buttermilk cheese, marinated tiny tomatoes. Everyone raved about these.
Author Belinda Ellis, who was with White Lily Flour in Knoxville for 20 years, posed with her book titled, aptly, “Biscuits.”
Allyn Purvis Schwartz, left, with Barbara Apking.
From left, Melynda Whetsel, Allyn Purvis Schwartz, Chyna Brackeen, Jessie Boilin and John Schwartz.
Nine-year-old Emi Sunshine wowed us all. I loved it when she played “Folsom Prison Blues.”
She owned the room.
Holly Williams. She was amazing, but made my friends and me cry with her sad, sad songs.
Sitting on the floor in the aisle there is John T. Edge. He is a writer, commentator and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. (Add Holly Williams’ fan to that list.)
The evening was a mellow and fitting launch to the International Biscuit Festival.
After Saturday morning’s stroll through Biscuit Boulevard, Alan and I were hungry as we headed over to Krutch Park for the Blackberry Farm Biscuit Brunch.
I took this sad picture on Gay Street. Boo.
But one look under the huge tent on Gay Street, and our spirits were lifted!
Clearly at the right spot!
Aren’t the centerpieces lovely?
A welcome sight: Antoinette Fritz with spicy Bloody Marys.
A perfect start. And I adore pickled okra.
Alan with the souvenir fan they gave us.
Co-chairs of the event: Judith Foltz, left, and Vicki Williams Baumgartner.
Pretty soon, guess what arrived!
Blackberry Farm Corporate Chef Josh Feathers told us what would be coming up.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett was there with his girlfriend, Kelly Kimball, and her daughter, Isabelle.
The mayor likes to take selfies. This one is with Dino Cartwright.
At the Scripps table were Cindy McConkey, right, and Lori and Joe Hickok. Lori is Scripps’ executive vice president of finance.
Scripps Networks Interactive, owner of The Food Network where Tyler Florence stars on its number one rated show, “The Great Food Truck Race,” donated a portion of sales from Florence’s appearance to causes that fight hunger. At the Biscuit Brunch, Lori Hickok announced that Scripps would contribute $15,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, where she sits on the board, and $10,000 to Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry” program.
Elaine Streno, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, and her husband, Glenn.
A great crowd was on hand.
The Biscuit Queen, Erin Donovan, visited our table.
Sugar snap peas topped with pickled Louisiana crawfish, a pickled farm egg and greens from the Blackberry garden. It was a delicious start.
Angie and Grace Wilson between courses.
Melinda Meador and Milton McNally
From left, Booth Kammann, Kim Henry and Jennifer Holder.
Barbara Apking, left, and Susan Hyde
Back at our table with John and Allyn Purvis Schwartz.
Main course was slow roasted pork shoulder larded with pork belly, served on Falls Mills grits with Blackberry Farm cheeses, greens from the garden, pickled ramps, turnips and bread and butter pickles. Oh, and a pork rind on top!
Peter Acly and Ellen Robinson were in heaven when they saw this plate.
I peeked into the kitchen part of the tent to see all the desserts being prepared. Aren’t they something?
Here’s mine. Cruze Farm chocolate milk panna cotta with South Carolina strawberries. Unbelievable.
Chef Feathers introduced Krissy Blauvelt, the baker at Blackberry Farm.
We said goodbye to our friends Anita Lane, left, and Becky Hancock, and headed back to our condo for a nap!
Incredibly, they gave us peanut butter cookies to take home!
On Sunday, to finish off the festival, WBIR-TV news anchor Robin Wilhoit introduced Chef Tyler Florence at the Tennessee Theatre.
Florence took to the stage and interviewed John Craig, the founder of the Biscuit Festival, as well as Chef Feathers for his podcast.
A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Florence used a whipped cream maker to create biscuits that he cooked on an electric pancake griddle. He shared them with audience members, who loved them.
And there, folks, you have it. Be sure and come next year.
Want to read more about Biscuit Fest?
Click here for the News Sentinel story.
Click here for a blog post by The Urban Guy.
Click here for a blog post by my buddy Rusha Sams.
Who would’ve thought I’d feel even the slightest pang of disappointment being on my honeymoon in the Caribbean last weekend instead of here in Knoxville? But, that’s what makes this such a great place to call home – plenty to enjoy and look forward to in your own backyard. Can’t wait for next year’s Biscuit Festival!
I’m still full from all of the events that went on this weekend. But that pork belly, grits and greens — oh, my. Be still my heart!
Lauren: You only have one honeymoon! Hopefully, we will have many Biscuit Festivals in our future. (But, it sure was fun!)
Ellen: I’m still full, too. Eating light this week!
As always, great coverage, Cyn!! The Biscuit Brunch was memorable — to which your pix so admirably attest! Looking fwd to next year already. What a blast!
Peter: Thanks for your help with the food styling! Making all those years in marketing at Procter and Gamble pay off!
Tyler was great. I got a hug and he signed my new cookbook. I wish we had been in town for the breakfast!!!
Yes, Monique, he’s just as cute in person as on TV, isn’t he?
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Great recap. I wish you had photos of one of my favorite Biscuit Fest events–The Mr. & Miss Biscuit Pageant. I had to miss it in order to judge the Sweet Biscuit category at the Bake Off. At least I didn’t miss the Bash & the Brunch. Loved the Cruze Farm Buttermilk Chocolate Panna Cotta.
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