Red Hog-Ready with Bob Hancock; Anoosh Has Nosh Down, Plus Roux and Silver Dollar

EDT welcomes Steve back from his siesta at Siesta Key, Fla. To no one’s surprise, the news about independent restaurants took no vacation. First up we talk about the closing at Roux in the Highlands, the first of Dustin Staggers’ five restaurants. While Staggers’ concepts got plenty of attention in the local dining scene, none was successful for long. Roux lasted exactly two years. Rick was surprised that the Courier-Journal replaced its restaurant critic, given its record of seizing on the opportunity to eliminate positions when reporters leave the paper. We’re both skeptical about what will happen with the new hire, and we have an update on former critic Nancy Miller. Plus, there’s a chef change at the Silver Dollar worth noting.

Both Rick and Steve spent some time with Bob Hancock at the brand-new Red Hog on Frankfort Avenue, and talked about our appreciation for his passion for the proper preparation of meats, and using the whole animal. Steve’s interview took place a few weeks before the Red Hog opened, which occurred with little fanfare, but it’s already created a stir there.

Four months into Anoosh Shariat’s latest venture, Noosh Nosh, he seems to be living the restaurateur’s dream — overseeing two successful eateries just across a parking lot from each other. Anoosh recently hired Allan Rosenberg to oversee all things culinary there and at Anoosh Bistro. The sister companies employ nearly 100 people. During Rick’s interview, Shariat talks about how much he loves his spectacular red-tiled, gas-flame-fired pizza oven, Maria.

Speaking of Maria, our favorites segment leads with a BBQ Chicken pizza Anoosh whipped up for Rick — with just the right combination of barbecue sauce and chicken, on a superb crust. While he was in Florida, Steve enjoyed some grouper and mahi mahi fresh from the ocean, and pronounced them delicious. He also came upon and shared a rare bourbon in the Sunshine State, while Rick’s fave drink was served in a tilted glass at SuperChefs.  There’s plenty more great eating and drinking news at our web site, www.EatDrinkTalk.net.

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Duncan Painter, Jay Denham and Bob Hancock at Red Hog

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Anoosh Shariat at Noosh Nosh

Chef Tyler Powell leaves Silver Dollar, headed to N.C. beach resort

Tyler Powell, the executive chef who’s overseen the kitchens at Silver Dollar and at El Camino for about three years, will work his last shift today and move his wife and two children to Duck, N.C., on Sunday. There, he’ll be the chef de cuisine at Kimball’s Kitchen, an ocean-view steak and seafood restaurant at Sanderling Resort.

Powell said a serendipitous turn of events led him to the position while he was on vacation at Carolina, Beach, N.C., in July. As many beach lovers often do while gazing at the hypnotic surf, Powell said to himself, “I want to live at the beach,” yet dismissed the idea about as quickly as he conjured it up.

“Doesn’t everybody think that when they’re at the beach?” Powell mused. “I had no idea that it might really happen the way it has.”

Powell’s former boss, long-ago Galt House executive chef Brian Riddle, contacted him about the Sanderling opportunity. Powell said accepting the job was almost a no-brainer.

Tyler Powell, executive chef at Silver Dollar and El Camino, is leaving Louisville took at a beach resort. | Photo courtesy of Tyler Powell

Tyler Powell, executive chef at Silver Dollar and El Camino, is leaving Louisville took at a beach resort. | Photo courtesy of Tyler Powell

“My wife wanted to do it, and making her and my (two) children happen is the most important thing to me,” said Powell, a Memphis, Tenn., native who moved to Louisville 12 years ago to attend culinary school at Sullivan University. “I just didn’t expect it to happen this fast.”

He believes it’s a good time given Silver Dollar’s on solid footing, The Pearl’s off to a great start, and the fact that El Camino’s Germantown rebirth hasn’t happened.

Powell’s longtime sous chef, James Lucas, will take his position at Silver Dollar and, when El Camino reopens in Germantown, he’ll oversee that operation also. For the time being, The Pearl serves only a limited selection of bar snacks.

“James is an all-around great dude and a great chef with a great palate,” Powell said. Lucas logged more than a decade at Bistro 301 before moving to Silver Dollar. “I have no doubt he’ll do a great job when I’m gone.”

Powell said part of the allure of working at Kimball’s Kitchen is its dining room view: floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the Atlantic Ocean. That view is just a few steps from the display kitchen’s counter.

He said he’ll miss Louisville’s dining scene, which is better developed than Duck’s tourist-friendly (read “chain-heavy”) lineup, as well as friends he’s made while living here and working in several local restaurants.

One early challenge he’ll face is learning the patois of “Jamaican English,” since the bulk of seasonal workers migrating to that area come from that Caribbean island.

“That could be a fun,” he joked. “I’ll have some (Culinary Institute of America) interns, too, though, so that’ll help.”

Understandably, his boss and friend, Larry Rice, operating partner in all three businesses, is disappointed he’s leaving with just a two-week notice, but Powell said his new employer demanded he move quickly or forego the opportunity.

“I wish I could have stayed a little longer and fully wrapped things up,” he said. “(Leaving) is never really easy, but this is one I didn’t want to pass up.”

The Weekend Can’t Get Here Too Soon

Wow, it sure seems like a great weekend for a festival! And a lot of organizations seemed to have the same great idea.

These glorious fall weekends are full of great places and events for eating and drinking on the go — does yours include the famed St. James Court Art Show, which is NOT (wink, wink) the reason schools are out Friday?

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-12-18-33-pmThere is the bourbon-themed Friday Trolley Hop, where Maker’s Mark’s sponsorship ensures that the “Red Out” will color your evening red – each stop will have a special, and 10 bars and restaurants will compete for your vote for their cocktail. Don’t try to do all 10. The fun starts at the Hub, where you can get a red wig. Also, be sure to stop in at spots featured here at EatDrinkTalk — the new Red Hog and Mint Julep Tours.

If you’re near River Road downtown, you’ll likely here before you see the Louder Than Life Festival, a tribute to “Music, Whiskey and Gourmet Man Food.” Cheap Trick is the only one of the three dozen bands I’ve heard of, but you have this guarantee — it will be LOUD. And 34 food vendors will be serving up that “Gourmet Man Food” described online this way — …artistically created statement making food, served in large portions with a powerful presentation. It is a unique twist to foods you know mixed with flavors you don’t expect.

Choices — Craft Beer and Pizza on the Bridge:  On Saturday, you can choose to drink the wares from 17 craft breweries in a special setting — the 2nd Bridge Streetscape. From 1-7 the 2nd Annual CRAFT Pizza and Beer Festival takes place, benefitting Cure CF Inc., a screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-12-23-24-pmLouisville-based non-profit. There’s also a lot of pizza involved — pies from Angio’s, Bluegrass Brewing Company, Bearno’s, BoomBozz Taphouse, DiOrio’s, Johnny Brusco’s, Gordon Biersch, Hometown Pizza, Impellizeri’s, Johnny V’s, Loui Loui’s, Mellow Mushroom, Spinelli’s, Jet’s Pizza, and North End Cafe will be available.

Of course, the football game of the year takes place in South Carolina Saturday night, where ESPN’s GameDay show will feature Lamar Jackson and the U of L Cardinals for the second time in three weeks, this time against Clemson. The stakes are as high for this one as any contest in U of L history.

Today, Bourbon Brothers Find a Rabbit Hole:  Membership in the Bourbon Brotherhood includes notice about special events like this one — the group will enjoy a special tasting from the new Rabbit Hole distillery opening next year in NuLu. Your ticket gets you fried chicken and a cigar sampling at NOAH’s Event Venue in the Jeffersontown Commerce Park.  

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-12-16-01-pmAnd On Monday, A Book Discussion – At the Haymarket, a group described as “A Bar-Hopping Whiskey Book Club with bourbon specials and literary discussions” will offer autographed copies of a new Jim Beam biography — “The Big Man of Jim Beam: Booker Noe.” The book’s author, Jim Korkoris, will be there to discuss the life of the bourbon industry legend. 

Podcast Excellence: Before you do all that fun stuff, download the EatDrinkTalk podcast, this week featuring Red Hog’s Bob Hancock talking about the new butcher shop and, eventually, restaurant on Frankfort Avenue featured here at EDT this week. Plus, I stopped in at Noosh Nosh to see how local favorite Anoosh Shariat is managing a pair of thriving restaurants. And Steve Coomes is back from the beach catching up on what he missed. It’s available right here Friday morning.

A post-mortem look at the not-surprising closure of Dustin Staggers’ Roux

On Sept. 17, I received a tip that Roux was through, on its last legs and preparing to close after two years in operation. For a few months, rumors about the imminent demise of the New Orleans-style restaurant in the heart of the Bardstown Road strip swirled, but owner Dustin Staggers denied those claims. All was well at Roux, he reported, especially since the recent installation of a new basement bar.

Given what I’d heard from former employees and purveyors, I found his claim hard to believe, but I accepted his word for it. And when the mid-September tip came in that “it’s done,” I contacted Staggers on Sept. 21, when he repeated his claim that it was still a going concern. He even invited me to go see for myself, but I was in Florida on vacation, so that wasn’t possible. Again, I accepted his answer, but with a sizeable dollop of doubt.

I don’t know everything about the restaurant business, but after being involved in it for the better part of four decades, I’ve learned to recognized the patterns of success, struggles and failures. They aren’t hard to see, and in this age of rapid communication, friends and colleagues are always eager to fill in the vaguer details that form a clearer and often accurate picture.

roux1But the picture on Roux and its three also-closed sister concepts—Epic Sammich (there were two units), Rumplings Slurp Shop and America. The Diner.—started to take shape even before Roux opened. When I interviewed Staggers for a 2014 Insider Louisville piece prior to Roux’s ribbon cutting, he was already sharing ambitious plans for multiple restaurant concepts.

I’ve interviewed thousands of restaurateurs in my career, and I don’t ever recall hearing one discuss such things before the customers were served in the first restaurant. But that was Staggers, supremely confident his vision would come to fruition. In the piece, I even wrote that he wore a “cocksure grin” as he talked, which became a shared joke between him and me. I would have willingly congratulated him had he blown the doors off this restaurant community and rubbed that success in my face.

When Roux opened, it came with much buzz and fanfare and good crowds. My own meal at its soft opening included oysters on the half shell that were dried out and redfish so undercooked that it was translucent. But that happens, especially at soft openings trial runs, there was no need to mention the shortfalls. I figured Staggers’ capable crew of young and equally ambitious chefs would get it together soon enough.

But it didn’t turn out that way.

One of the curses of my job is being posted up and told about way too many bad meals, and there were many who complained about Roux: its food, its service, its mismanagement of reservations, its failed all night beignet window and its dubiously New Orleansesque food. (Cocktails always got praise, by the way.) I took those complaints with a grain of salt, knowing people are often unfairly hypercritical about their meals. Too many want to exact their pound of flesh when it comes to a bad restaurant stop, so I didn’t listen all that closely.

Yet the complaints kept coming.

As did Staggers’ promised restaurants. Just two months after Roux, Rumplings Slurp Shop opened, and America. The Diner., Staggers’ dream of a nearly 24-hour diner, followed nine months later.

However, when Rumplings never found its footing and closed six months later, it was replaced quickly with Epic Sammich, a concept centered on oversized, overstuffed hot sandwiches. So pleased with Epic’s launch, Staggers and then-partner Eric Morris, opened a duplicate restaurant in Richmond, Ky.

Sadly, the Richmond restaurant was an epic failure, closing in about three months, followed by the original Epic in February 2016. Staggers blamed its failure on a bad location on Highland Ave., about 150 feet away from the intersection at Baxter Ave.

Not long after it was apparent that The Diner was also in trouble, and it closed barely a month later. Regarding ATD’s end, Staggers cited common concerns such as the labor crunch, a saturated restaurant market and low profits. But the deeper truth was ATD wasn’t good enough or different enough to make a beachhead in the current market. There was nothing unique about its menu, which was chockful of items easily found elsewhere. And while I enjoyed two good meals there, liked the location and the prices, even I was capable of replicating most anything on its menu at home.

Yet amid all the openings and closings, Staggers and his longtime chef corps—Griffin Paulin, Ethan Ray, Eric Morris and Mike Lau—conducted weekly gatherings of Ten Tables, one of the coolest pop-up concepts I’ve ever seen. It was innovative, creative, collaborative and freewheeling. Week after week it sold out as curious diners signed up via Facebook lottery for one of 40 seats. Yet even this bright spot in the Staggers portfolio eventually dimmed as Paulin, Ray and Morris left to work elsewhere.

Staggers left also, moving to South Carolina to focus on a real estate tax lien business he co-founded several years before with brother Kyle Staggers. His presence at Roux was less frequent, and in his absence, the rumor mill churned, claiming an absentee owner was a sure sign of a restaurant on its deathbed. But those suspicions proved false as Roux continued cooking.

Interestingly, long before his restaurant group began struggling, Staggers told me his tax lien business produced enough excess funds to keep Roux running, if needed, while he opened others.

Using funds from one business to prop up another is rarely, if ever, a good move, and usually a savvy owner will off the sick enterprise to avoid malnourishing the other. But Staggers had other plans.

Given the demands of his primary business, it’s doubtful he was fiddling while Roux was burning, but he wasn’t focused on it either. By multiple accounts from industry sources and according to Staggers, that duty was given to Lau, his longtime right-hand man and friend from Staggers’ hometown of Tampa, Fla.

And that’s when lots of chefs began asking how he could run his business from afar. I had no answers, of course, but experience made me confident it wasn’t possible.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, at 11 a.m., a post was made on Roux’s Facebook page that read, “Come celebrate our last weekend with us! We are offering half price bottles of wine all weekend! Every bottle, open to close, Saturday and Sunday! Come say goodbye and enjoy some killer wines at unbeatable prices!”

No one noticed until about noon the following Tuesday, when Clayton Carrier asked, “What?? Are you all closed now????”

On Sept. 28, Business First published a story whose headline read, “The last restaurant of a high-profile Louisville chef has closed,” which basically echoes what I’ve written here: Despite Staggers’ attention-gaining splash from four restaurant concepts, his broad ambitions outpaced his ability to maintain any of them.

I’ve heard several say that if Staggers had given Roux all his focus for the past two years, it may well have done well, and I agree. Heaven knows people wanted a good New Orleans-style restaurant in the Highlands, so why not do just that—especially when you’ve got a thriving tax lien business that could cover your other bills.

But clearly it wasn’t meant to be since Staggers wanted more than one. Now, as far as his Louisville restaurants are concerned, he’s got nothing, and that’s a shame.

But give him credit for this much: He’s a young man who left a troubled home in his mid-teens to make his own way. Along the way, sometimes sleeping in his car, he’s built what appears to be at least one good business, and while monitoring that one, he had the guts to open five more. Unfortunately for him, those failed.

You’ve got to like him for trying, and perhaps he’ll learn from his mistakes and return to the stoves. But even if he doesn’t, heaven knows the man with the cocksure grin has confidence to try something new.

Yes, Red Hog is Finally Open on Frankfort Avenue

All it took was a homemade sign printed on brown wrapping paper taped to the window, and on Sept. 22 a steady stream of customers started showing up at the Red Hog Butcher Shop. Neighbors have been watching the progress on the former gas station for 18 months, so when the doors opened, with no fanfare, customers were ready.

2016-09-22-14-12-28One of the first placed an order for four lamb’s heads, an item partner Jay Denham said you won’t find anywhere else in town.

“This is the first day, with no publicity, we’re trying to get the kinks worked out,” said Bob Hancock, who owns the Blue Dog Bakery a few doors down with his wife Kit Garrett (also a Red Hog partner, with Denham and Duncan Painter). “We didn’t want to be inundated with too many people the first day. But I can already hear the buzz out there in social media.”

Hancock and Denham know the business, and have been talking about creating Red Hog for more than eight years. Denham has been abroad, studying the way meat is cured first in Italy, and then on a trip with Hancock to Spain.

Jay Denham and Bob Hancock say Red Hog is the culmination of an eight-year dream

Jay Denham and Bob Hancock say Red Hog is the culmination of an eight-year dream

“It’s been an eight-year dream of both of ours,” Hancock said. “We were both tinkering around with pigs and pork. What I want to accomplish at this place is to be in control of the animal from the time it’s born until it’s finished and put in the customer’s hand.”

Denham took me on a tour of the back of the shop, where animals are brought in and the process of fabricating the meat begins. Deliveries of animals started a few weeks ago.

“If anyone comes in here to shop, we can tell them what farm that animal came from, everything they want to know,” Hancock said. “We’re taking a big risk here, actually. We’re going to have to change people’s shopping habits. They’re going to have to want to support local in a big way.”

He explained that the meat will be offered for sale in the butcher shop first.

2016-09-22-14-03-15“When they come through the back door it’s the whole animal. We break the animals down in the book and start the process of fabricating whatever products that we’re going to do. It’s a whole animal operation.”

Products that don’t immediately sell in the butcher shop will be sent over to the adjacent cafe, where a chalkboard menu will tout the day’s specials. That part of the business opens in a few weeks, Denham said, and will feature a wood-fired oven and grill, a small seating area, and a full bar featuring beer taps topped with artistic pig’s feet. Small plates will be offered, plus pizzas and sandwiches.

An 2,000-square foot outdoor patio is also nearly ready.

2016-09-22-13-59-33The project of turning the former mechanic’s shop into a butcher shop began about 18 months ago, Hancock said. Delays involving EPA cleanup caused delays, but the partners persisted in getting Red Hog opened. Denham believes it will become a destination for customers with unusual requests.

“We can get pig head, beef heart, tongue. You can get anything here,” he said.

The owners haven’t yet settled on hours of operation, but said that they’ll be open at 10 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Hear from Bob Hancock in an interview with Steve Coomes on this week’s episode of EatDrinkTalk, the podcast, later this week.

 

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Critic’s thrashing of Joella’s Hot Chicken was unprofessional and unethical

Nineteen days have passed since unknown restaurant critic Marcus Weston wrote a scathing review about a single visit to Joella’s Hot Chicken, and yet his story still sticks in my craw.

Writing for KitchenBanter.com, a blog created by local chef Griffin Paulin, Weston disparaged every aspect of the food he ate and the surroundings in which he consumed it.

Worse, he also made what Joella’s founder Tony Palombino called defamatory statements that could lead to a court room confrontation.

Author Steve Coomes | Photo by Nancy LaRocca

Author Steve Coomes | Photo by Nancy LaRocca

If you haven’t read it, I don’t recommend it since it was an unprofessional slash job by a writer with no record of published work or even restaurant work history. In fact, if you search for Marcus Weston on the web, you’ll find no person by that name who is remotely connected to the character who deemed himself judge of Joella’s. (We’ll get back to that issue shortly.)

But what’s particularly troubling to me about this review is Weston would become so upset, enraged and critical of a single restaurant meal. Some examples:

On the restaurant’s décor: “Joella’s looks like a 19 year old girl blew her textbook money at Bed Bath and Beyond on Black Friday. I mean, it was SO kitschy and off base, it was almost offensive.”

Anyone other than me find that childish? It was tedious enough to read former Courier-Journal restaurant critic Nancy Miller bemoan the dated drapes at J. Harrod’s two years ago, but this topped even that.

On the food: “Did Chef Palombino jump on AllRecipes.com and cherry pick the ingredients they carried at Speedway?”

So Weston doesn’t like the taste of a restaurant’s food? Fine. Yet unable to leave it at that, he then accuses a well-known chef with 25 years in the trade of shopping for ingredients at a convenience store.

Another: “The green beans, however, will remind you of Granny’s. Provided, of course, your Granny smokes over the stove as she opens a can of Del Monte goodness, throws in some raw bacon, and lets that combination simmer for three minutes before slopping it on your plate, for better or worse.”

Reading that leaves me tempted to dip to Weston’s level and write, “Dude, your granny’s gross because mine never did that,” but that would likely offend his granny. Weston may think he’s being cheeky, but he’s only showing a lack of professionalism and restraint.

What would motivate someone to be so spiteful over a plate of chicken and vegetables? Bad meals are a First World problem, dude, they’re not life and death stuff.

But to an operator like Palombino, one who could lose customers from a bad review, this is deadly serious business. So in the wake of the review, Palombino is moving to sue Paulin for defamation.

Why Paulin and not Weston? Because Palombino, like many, believes Weston doesn’t even exist—despite Paulin insisting he does—because there’s no trace of this particular Marcus Weston on the web. His Facebook profile shows two friends, one of whom is Paulin, yet virtually no other information.

In multiple private messages Paulin has said to me that Weston not only “exists,” but that he’s going to stand behind the reviewer and not remove the review from KitchenBanter despite Palombino’s request.

Regarding the threat of a lawsuit, Paulin’s stance is Palombino’s got no leverage against him since 1. Weston’s opinion is Weston’s and thus an exercise of free speech; that 2. he’s merely given Weston a place to air his opinion; and 3. that all opinions aired on the site are exclusively those of the writer. He’s also said that since KitchenBanter generates no revenue, there’s nothing to sue.

I’m no lawyer, so I don’t know whether a lawsuit would stand up in court, but at the very least I see Paulin’s stance as feckless and potentially reckless for a guy who’s weeks away from opening his own restaurant, Mirin. Despite those who’ve congratulated him on publishing Weston’s controversial review, there appears to be an equal number of readers and restaurant fans who are put off by it. Risking offending that group to the point that its members would sidestep Mirin seems like an unwise risk to take—especially if there’s no reward of revenue from the web product.

Yet while the simplest thing to do would be to remove the review and avoid any further controversy, Paulin’s not doing it.

When Palombino was a guest recently on the EatDrinkTalk podcast, he made a good point about it being odd that a blog run by a restaurant chef-owner would become a megaphone for criticizing other restaurant chef-owners. He said he knew of no line of business in which owners created blogs through which they trashed other owners’ and their businesses. (I certainly know of none off the top of my head.)

Off air we discussed Louisville being a small town with a closely knit restaurant community, and how publicly lambasting another within the same trade was chancy, “especially when you’re a guy getting ready to open your own place! Now’s the time to create goodwill, not make people angry,” Palombino said.

(Paulin was invited to speak on the podcast, but he declined due to the pending lawsuit. But through a pair of Facebook videos [1 and 2], he’s shared his opinion.)

I agree with Palombino, but in a nuanced way: He’s right in that this is a tight restaurant community, but that’s changing with this youngest generation of owners and chefs. Using social media, many are becoming rudely outspoken about their dislike of competitors and their products. And when I talk to the old guard about it (chefs and owners between 40 and 65), they’re shocked at what’s being aired publicly—things they know such people would never say to the faces of those they’re criticizing. It’s becoming anti-social media in the worst way, and I sense we’re seeing just the beginning of the problem.

Weston’s mess of a review is an iconic example of that problem. His work is rife with the self-centeredness and cowardice so commonly attributed to Millennials who want everything their way and who take to social media to demand it. His opinion of Joella’s is simply bilious, and it in no way honors the difficult craft of restaurant reviewing. It’s my wish that this be his first and last effort.

The Bad Guys Take Over the Dinner Menu at SuperChefs

Fans of the SuperChefs in St. Matthews, which burned to the ground last year, were thrilled when Darnell Ferguson opened anew in the former Wild Strati location in the Highlands in July.

But for two months, the comic-book themed restaurant has served only breakfast and lunch, closing at 3 p.m.  According to Ferguson, the delay on dinner had to do with applying for a liquor license, which he had to re-do with the new location.

Tonight, Sept. 23, SuperChefs opens to the public for dinner. I stopped in at the soft opening Wednesday, took a seat at the bar and allowed Nan and Julie to suggest something light. I went with a delicious cocktail tabbed a “Bachelor(ette)” with Jack Daniels Honey-flavored whiskey and lemonade.

I went back and forth on what to order from the appetizer menu, leaning toward a fried oyster dish, but the bubbly Nan strongly suggested the Southern Egg Roll. It was stuffed with fried chicken, Mac-and-Cheese and greens, with a sweet potato sauce ($9.99).

But from my seat, I could see some elaborate creations coming from the kitchen, including one called the Suicide Squad ($48.99) — consisting of fried cornish hens, enough food for “two normal people or one Super Human.” Another ordered the visually-stunning Riddler ($18.99) consisting of four meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato icing.

I even spied a selection of ice cream cones someone had for dessert.

All the dinner menu items are named for villains, including the Green Goblin, Bane and Dr. Doom.  I also spied a Harley Quinn ($18.99) that someone ordered — a stack of sticky ribs with fried corn. It sure looked tasty.

Dinner hours at SuperChefs are Wednesday through Saturday from 5-11 p.m.

Cheers — Steve Nally Talks Up the Bardstown Bourbon Co.; Hall of Famer Joy Perrine, and Guest Host Dean Corbett

While Steve’s eating and drinking on a beach somewhere, Chef Dean Corbett steps in to his chair as this week’s guest co-host. Of course, Corbett has the experience — he hosted more than 50 radio shows with Steve in an earlier venture dubbed the ChefBoyarDean Show. Listen in as Dean fills us in on his view on recent restaurant news, including Dallas McGarity’s move to The Fat Lamb and the controversy over a review of Joella’s.

Rick’s guest is Steve Nally, master distiller at the sparkling new Bardstown Bourbon Co., which began producing bourbon just last week. A veteran of 40 years in distilling, the bulk of which was at Maker’s Mark, where he retired as master distiller nearly a decade ago, Nally talks about the ground-breaking new facility and the mark it plans to make on the industry.Before he left, Steve sat down with the amazing bartender Joy Perrine, the first woman inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Corbett adds some interesting stories about Perrine, who’s been a staple at Equus and Jack’s Lounge for three decades.

As always, there’s more great drinking and dining news at EatDrinkTalk.net.

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Steve Nally at Bardstown Bourbon Co.

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Hall of Fame bartender Joy Perrine

Kroger Opening New Marketplace, with Spirits Store Opening on Dixie

Photos from The New Dixie Highway’ Kroger’s Facebook Page

Louisville, KY. (September 16th, 2016) – Kroger will celebrate the grand opening of the new store located at 4915 Dixie Hwy., in Louisville Kentucky, on Thursday, September 22nd; at 8:00 a.m. The official Ribbon Cutting Event will be performed by professional stock car racer, Ben Rhodes.

The new, 125,000 square foot state of the art Kroger Marketplace store, replaces the current 62,000 square foot store. This move has created 184 new jobs; the new store will employ more than 360 associates.

It offers expanded varieties of Produce, Organic, Meat, Seafood and Deli. The store includes everything you have come to expect and much more. Specialty departments include a Starbucks, Boar’s Head meats & cheeses, Murray’s Cheese Shop, Apparel, Kitchen Place, Office and School Supplies, Toy Department, Fresh Sushi, made to order Sandwich and Food Stations, Floral Shop, US in-store bank, Little Clinic and a drive-thru Pharmacy.

Kroger

“We are so proud to be a key partner in the investment and renovation of the Dixie Highway area”, said Store Manager, Steve King. “We believe strongly in being the place where our customers love to shop and our associates love to work. Our Marketplace represents what we strive for every day in giving our guests the Friendliest and Freshest shopping experience possible.”

Store hours are 6 a.m. until 1 a.m. 7 days a week. Pharmacy hours are Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

On grand opening day, the first 500 customers will receive one Fischer’s Sliced Quik Cut Boneless Half Ham. Also, on grand opening day through Saturday, September 24th, customers can receive 20 cents off per gallon with their Kroger Plus card.

Wine & Spirits Shoppe Opening
The new 2,800 square ft. full service Wine & Spirits Shoppe, located next to the Dixie Crossings store, will offer 400 varieties of wine from around the world, 300 varieties of spirits and a select variety of import and craft beers. Growlers will be available for customers to fill with their favorite beer to take home. The Shoppe will be managed by Sarah Niner and will be open seven days a week. Wine & Spirits Shoppe hours will be Monday thru Thursday – 9 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday & Saturday 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. & Sunday 1 -7 p.m. There will be free wine and spirits tastings each week.

Kroger

 

 

Old is New Again at Sparking Bardstown Bourbon Co. Distillery

Go on a few bourbon distillery tours around Kentucky and you’ll hear stories about the pioneers whose names adorn the bourbons bottled today. Most of those tours take you through rather un-glamorous paths around industrial equipment that’s been in place and making liquor for decades.

When tourists start coming to the Bardstown Bourbon Co. early next year, they’ll see similar equipment, except that it’s all brand-spanking new and shiny, and their walk to see the whole thing will be less than a quarter-mile. Better yet, afterward they can relax with lunch at a cafe and a drink from the bar.

At least that’s the experience David Mandell, president and CEO, has planned for visitors to his $25 million Bardstown Bourbon Co., when it’s completed early next year. Last week, in part to celebrate the beginning of bourbon production at the site, Mandell invited a select group of reporters to enjoy the first tour of the brand new facility, set on 100 acres near the Bluegrass Parkway in Bardstown. The massive complex, the largest of any new bourbon distillery in the U.S., is surrounded by a field of corn, some of which was used in the first batch of product.

“This is a celebration of the craft of making whiskey,” Mandell said at the start. “We see this as a Napa Valley-style destination experience.”

Looking around a spacious and still nearly empty main production room, Mandell pointed to the future locations of a cafe, fireplace, bar, patio, classrooms — all with a clear view of the production stills and behind a glass wall with a view of rickhouses where its whiskey will age in barrels.

Eventually, Mandell said the distillery will produce a signature, not-yet named bourbon, nad operate a collaborative distillery program, in which master distiller Steve Nally will make up to a dozen different brands that will be sold and marketed by contract customers.

“The authenticity of the story of where it comes from is important, and we will produce custom product for those brands and we will be home to those brands,” Mandell said.

The third part of the business is tourism at the plant. Nally emphasized that transparency of the distilling process is key, pointing to a still with multiple manways (windows offering views inside the column still), so that visitors can see the more of the manufacturing process than at any other distillery. There are classrooms designed so that consumers can participate in programming designed to educate and entertain tourists.

Of course, the process of making bourbon involves aging, and the first product won’t even be in barrels for a few weeks. Nally, a 40-year veteran of the industry and the long-time master distiller at Maker’s Mark, said he won’t allow any of the barrels to be bottled until they’re ready.

While we were there, though, Mandell gave 18 of the original distillery workers something to celebrate. He handed out certificates giving them ownership of the first barrels to come out of the distillery. That valuable perk, however, won’t be released until Nally says it’s so.

NOTE: Listen to my interview with Steve Nally on this week’s EatDrinkTalk podcast, which will be online Sept. 22.