K-town cuisine greets city newcomers

Gay Lyons striking a dramatic pose before cutting our dessert cake at her home in The Overlook condos on Main Street.

As a sure sign that we have turned the corner on the pandemic, our downtown progressive dinners have returned! With everyone fully vaccinated, we were for the first time in over a year able to safely visit three downtown homes, enjoying a different course at each stop. The last time we did this was December 2019.

The four couples who now participate in the progressive dinner decided last weekend to invite two special guests — newcomers to Knoxville who also live downtown. Since they moved here during the pandemic, we worried that they didn’t have the full downtown experience and we wanted to help remedy that!

The guests were Jeannette Mills, executive vice president and chief external relations officer of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Kathie Goldsby, an educator who moved to Knoxville when her husband, Tom, became the Dee and Jimmy Haslam Chair in Logistics and a  professor of supply chain management at the University of Tennessee. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Food | 13 Comments

Knoxville Museum of Art Guild celebrates its surprisingly successful year with wrap-up luncheon

Knoxville Museum of Art Guild Co-President Karen Mann presided over the festivities.

Much like the Knoxville Symphony League, the Knoxville Museum of Art Guild celebrated a stunningly successful fundraising season with a festive luncheon last week. Held in the Ann and Steve Bailey Hall at the museum, the event also featured three local artists who offered observations.

Guild Co-President Karen Mann, who has served for the past year with Co-President Johnnie Creel, reported that the annual Holiday Homes Tour, which had to be turned into a virtual event in 2020, brought in more than $72,000. And the Artists on Location event, which features a group of artists setting up in various Knoxville locations and creating pieces to be auctioned, brought in an additional $53,000.

“This has turned out to be a great year, after all!” enthused the museum’s executive director, David Butler. Everyone toasted the success with glasses of champagne, pinot grigio and chardonnay. Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Events, Knoxville | 2 Comments

Symphony League celebrates success in trying year

Evelyn Shaw, the newly installed Knoxville Symphony League president, wields the gavel as past co-president Elizabeth Offringa looks on.

About 80 members of the Knoxville Symphony League seemed almost giddy to get together this week at a celebratory Cherokee Country Club luncheon.

It was the League’s annual business meeting and also the time when new officers are installed and — most importantly — the League presents the Knoxville Symphony Society with a check for the amount the League has raised during fundraisers throughout the season.

Almost unbelievably, the League presented the Symphony Society with over $105,000! Plus an additional $2,500 for the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra. This is amazing, considering that most events including the popular Elegant Dining dinners were canceled and the usually packed Symphony Ball was moved to a virtual platform. (Not to mention that most Knoxville Symphony performances were canceled, as well.) Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Music | 5 Comments

Want to exercise like the cavemen did? Head to Ijams!

Enjoying the Primal Playground on Sunday! More fun developments are in store for Ijams Nature Center.

While the pandemic has been devastating for many area businesses and non-profit organizations, it has been a boon for others. Case in point: Ijams Nature Center. In particular, its Primal Playground over in the Mead’s Quarry area.

“The Primal Playground is an outdoor workout space that was heavily used during COVID,” Ijams’ Executive Director Amber Parker told a group of supporters at a special gathering on Sunday. “Green exercise creates a greater level of environmental stewardship. And you work out at a higher intensity level when you are outdoors.”

The Ijams Primal Playground is divided into three sections: Stone, Wood and Boulder Field. Each section provides different elements that can be used in a variety of ways. You can create your own workout or download an existing workout.

Here are some other exciting plans in the future for Ijams, Parker told the supporters: Continue reading

Filed under: Knoxville | 7 Comments

Sertoma Center honors Jenny and Randy Boyd with ‘Lifetime of Love Award’ — and a fun party!

Honorees Jenny and Randy Boyd. Yep, he’s wearing a kilt! He owns four of them!

The folks at the Sertoma Center of Knoxville, which provides opportunities for people with disabilities to achieve their fullest potential, didn’t let a little global pandemic dampen their fundraising party plans!

They moved their annual Friendship Dinner, which this year honored Jenny and Randy Boyd for their longtime support, to an outdoor location and embraced a Scottish theme in a nod to the Boyds’ Scottish heritage. Dinner was catered by Jenny’s Old City restaurant, Boyd’s Jig & Reel, which, Jenny said, does not usually do such big catering jobs. Still, folks loved the victuals.

The evening was really sweet — and successful. “You are the essence of Sertoma,” said State Sen. Becky Massey to the Boyds, in taped remarks from Nashville where she was in the final week of the first half of the Tennessee General Assembly’s 112th session. Massey knows what she’s talking about. She worked for more than 20 years as executive director of the Sertoma Center.

In a touching part of the evening, broadcaster Hallerin Hilton Hill interviewed two of Sertoma Center’s clients, which really brought home what the night was all about. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Knoxville Botanical Garden supporters cocktail with leprechauns and fairies at Ancient Lore Village

Tom Boyd and Sandi Burdick welcomed guests to Ancient Lore Village.

Looking for a creative way to salute their major donors, the leaders of Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum decided to take them to Inner Earth!

That is the fictional realm that is the theme of Ancient Lore Village, the new 67-acre resort and event center owned by Tom Boyd and Sandi Burdick in South Knoxville. The guests enjoyed cocktails and an elegant hors d’oeuvres spread prepared by Executive Chef Simon Hall and music by Sean Claire, a violinist with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, before touring the eight guest cottages and numerous gathering places on the property.

Everyone was amazed by the combination of whimsy and elegance the location embodied. Based on a book Boyd wrote about various mystical creatures who dwell in Inner Earth, each cottage portrayed a different theme. Continue reading

Filed under: Events | 16 Comments

Nestful of Knoxvillians help The Swag open 40th season

Bartender Tyler Marsh “smoking” some cocktails in The Swag’s new bar.

The Swag over near Waynesville, North Carolina, opened for its 40th season last weekend with a lot of familiar faces — including ours! Owned by Knoxville residents Annie and David Colquitt, the mountain resort which consistently ranks in Conde Nast Traveler’s “Top Resorts in the South” listings, has a lot of new features — starting with a liquor license!

Now you can have a full range of creative cocktails — as well as beer and wine — without having the forethought to bring them with you. Also new is a separate bar and spa. (Alan was massage client No. 1!) And there are many new room updates and comfy new furnishings.

Also new this season: You drop your car off at a welcome station near the top of the 5,000-foot peak and are valeted to The Swag House and property where you will spend your stay. Moving the parking lot has allowed for a massive expansion of the garden, still being planted. Continue reading

Filed under: Food, Music, Travel | 29 Comments

Event planners had year to forget but remain thankful

Nobody likes events more than The Blue Streak! That’s why we are thankful for the wonderful event planners in our community. Moxley Carmichael’s writer/editor Maria Cornelius handles the EventCheck Knox calendar for us and writes a blog there called “In Any Event.” We thought Blue Streak readers would enjoy her latest blog entry, re-posted here. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! — Cynthia

The year 2020 can’t end fast enough for event planners, but they adapted to a pandemic, salvaged some fundraisers and emerged thankful for everyone’s support.

The last large-scale, in-person event of 2020 was L’Amour du Vin in March. After that, events steadily got postponed and then canceled or converted to virtual gatherings. Planners had to get creative to stay connected to donors, change events on a dime – and protect themselves from COVID-19.

We asked event planners for their biggest challenge in 2020 and what were they most thankful for this Thanksgiving. The answers ranged from being appreciative for Zoom, to people actually being home to answer the phone, to how the Knoxville community rallied to help. Continue reading

Filed under: Events | 2 Comments

Dr. Frank Gray: surgeon, music lover, friend

Dr. Frank and Anna Gray at their residence last year where they hosted an afternoon of music and champagne as a fundraiser for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

I just can’t believe that Dr. Frank Gray is gone. The retired orthopedic surgeon, music lover and fixture on Knoxville’s social scene has been a regular on the Blue Streak since its inception. That’s because he was passionate about so many things.

Dr. Gray, who passed away last Friday after a battle with a rare cancer, was among Jim and Natalie Haslam’s best friends. Jim Haslam spoke on behalf of the couple this week when he said, “It was a blessing for us to know and interact closely with Frank. He was a real Renaissance man. He was at home in the operating room, at the piano, in the kitchen or in his garden. He will be missed by many.”

I knew Frank best due to our mutual membership on the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s board of directors. He was president of the board for two terms and even filled in as executive director when that post was between occupants. He taught me by example how to be a better board member, and he was my mentor and my cheerleader when I became president of the KSO board several years ago. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Music | 6 Comments

Debating the staff of life: free bread with dinner?

Joseph Lenn, chef-owner of J.C. Holdway, brings a skillet of cornbread to the table.

My husband is a bread lover. Raised in North Knoxville, Alan Carmichael says his family had bread at every meal: biscuits, cornbread, dinner rolls — or just sliced store-bought white bread stacked on a plate in the center of the table.

We have enjoyed traveling quite a bit around the United States, Canada and Europe and we’ve noticed that at many of our favorite out-of-town restaurants, customers are greeted with baskets or plates of the most amazing breads. Free of charge. With excellent butters or other toppings. Alan is always in heaven when this happens!

Not long ago, we asked ourselves, “Why don’t the restaurants in Knoxville have wonderful complimentary bread on the table?” So, we consulted with some of our favorite hometown chefs and proprietors and here’s what we found out: it’s complicated.

Randy Burleson has some of the best restaurant brands in East Tennessee. We are regulars at his upscale Bistro By the Tracks in Bearden, the Sunspot on campus and all the Aubrey’s locations. He told me recently that deciding whether to have complimentary bread service is problematic. Continue reading

Filed under: Business, Food, Knoxville | 22 Comments