Sippin’ Forever in Blue Jeans, with Jason Smith and Paul Tuell

There’s plenty of eatin’ and drinkin’ to talk about in Louisville, and Washington, so let’s get right to it. Carolyn traveled to our nation’s Capitol on business, and feasted at Succotash, owned and operated by our own Edward Lee. At another stop, she came face to eye with a fish, she ordered the catch of the day, and was a bit uncomfortable with its presentation.

Around here we noticed that the new version of the old Kaelin’s on Newburg Road is now hiring, the last step before the new 80/20 Kaelin’s opens there. Flavour is the new restaurant in the Highlands, a Caribbean/Creole spot, taking the place of Asiatique, which closed just a few weeks ago. Rick visited a one-year-old restaurant on West Broadway, Angie’s Home Cooking, which is where you would go if you were looking for good meat loaf.

Our guests made us a succulent sipper – the “Forever in Blue Jeans” special in honor of the Denim & Diamonds fundraiser, coming June 1. Paul Tuell used his Boubon Ball Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey, with a blueberry sauce and ginger beer, to make the special concoction. Jason Smith, the GM at Gordon Biersch, explains how his work for the Parkinson’s Support Center is a chance to give back to the organization that helps those with Parkinson’s. Jason, who has Parkinson’s himself, recruits some of the city’s top chefs to donate their time for the event.

Paul Tuell, Jason Smith, Carolyn McLean and Rick Redding

Jim McArthur’s Downtown Vision; Jason Smith’s Fight Against Parkinson’s

The best bar and restaurant podcast in the ‘Ville is back with more news and conversations sure to tingle your taste buds. We’ve got a report on the new Cuvee Wine Bar, a great new spot in the East End opened by one of the few Master Sommeliers in the region.

And remember that you heard it here first — Tony Palombino will convert the Boombozz Tap House in St. Matthews to a new concept called Waylon’s Feed and Firewater, a close cousin to his Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen downtown. We’re also seeing signs, including one that reads “Now Hiring” at the Mission Barbecue in St. Matthews, one of a projected 50 new restaurants scheduled to open in the city in 2017.

We’re looking forward to the Highlands Beer Fest behind the Mid-City Mall on Saturday. (Did you know it was the first modern-day brewfest in the city?) On Sunday, two of our favorite chefs — Harvest’s Patrick Roney and Jacob Coronado of the Red Herring — will face off in an Iron Chef-like competition at the Louisville Independent Business Association’s Buy Local Fair at the Water Tower.

Steve’s guest this week is Harvest Restaurant co-owner Jim McArthur, who has some unique insight into downtown’s changes, and how good it will be for business, when the Convention Center and other construction projects are complete in 2018. Rick sat down with veteran restaurant operator Jason Smith at Gordon Biersch to talk about one of Jason’s pet projects — the Denim & Diamonds fundraiser for Parkinson’s disease. Smith has early onset Parkinson’s, and talks about how he’s affected by the disease and why he’s so passionate about raising money for treatment.

In our Copper & Kings favorites segment, Steve chose to sample fried oysters at La Chasse, while Rick picked the eggplant Parmesan from the menu at Ciao, where he also enjoyed a memorable Old Fashioned. With many to choose from, Steve selected the Chateau de Puligny he tried during a press event at the new Cuvee Wine Table.

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Jason Smith at Gordon Biersch

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Pints for Parkinson’s Set to Take Over Fourth Street Live April 19

If you’re a regular at Fourth Street Live!, you know that a band playing on a stage in the street is a regular occurrence. But the party coming up April 19 marks a milestone event, as the third-annual Pints for Parkinson’s party spreads out over the entire complex.

Jason Smith, the general manager at Gordon Biersch Brewery & Restaurant, started Pints for Parkinson’s at the 4SL spot shortly after he was diagnosed with an early onset form of the debilitating and potentially deadly disease. (If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the affliction borne by Muhammad Ali for many years.) Smith got involved in the fight against the disease by donating proceeds from one of the restaurant’s Pint Nights to the Parkinson’s Support Center of Kentuckiana. The larger party evolved from there.

Last year, at the second event, Smith’s work to promote the party resulted in one of the largest crowds in the restaurant’s history, so much that he said he couldn’t have squeezed another person inside or out onto its patio space.

“We were busting the restaurant at the seams,” said Smith, who is able to manage his disease with medication, though he suffers from occasional tremors. “We took the fence down and went out into the street.”

The party attracted the attention of Cordish executive Ed Hartless, who engordonbierschgaged in meetings with Smith to plan this year’s event, which will now encompass all of the entertainment complex. Ten percent of proceeds from sales at Fourth Street Live! restaurants, and all beer sales from a tent at the south end of the complex, will go to the cause.

Smith said he raised $3,500 the first year, $10,000 in the second and hopes to break $20,000 this year.

“Jason’s story is a great one, and when we heard about it, I said we would jump in in any way we could,” said Hartless.

Smith is especially excited about the band at the top of the bill — national chart-topping Country-Americana band Jericho Woods. The trio of Breckenridge County natives was selected by the readers of Kentucky Living Magazine as the Commonwealth’s Favorite Performing Band last year.

If you’ve been before, you can expect the return of the traditional tapping of the Maibok keg from Gordon Biersch as well.
Ed Hartless

Ed Hartless

“What Jason has been able to do in promoting Pints for Parkinson’s is amazing,” said Hartless. “Instead of having the crowd squeeze into one restaurant, we will be able call attention to a great cause in a much larger space.”

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, but Smith’s passion for the cause isn’t limited to four weeks. He’s organized pint nights in Bowling Green and Evansville, and partners with other local breweries to raise awareness. He’s even formed a 501-C-3 foundation to help distribute the funds raised.

While Gordon Biersch is a national chain with 32 locations, Smith said the success of the Louisville store can be traced to its involvement in local events and causes. Every month, the restaurant hosts a Pint Night when all beer proceeds go to a local non-profit organization. He said the restaurant raised $80,000 for a dozen charities last year,  and members of his team volunteered 200 service hours to community service projects.

“Fourth Street Live has become more family friendly and community oriented, and being a part of the community has really helped our business,” said Smith.

The Pints for Parkinson’s Charity Fundraiser is Wednesday, April 19, starting at 6 p.m.  at Fourth Street Live!

Das Meal Brings German Feast to Shelbyville

Chef Ellen Gill McCarty says her customers come to Shelbyville’s Science Hill Inn for fried chicken, shrimp and grits or a hot brown. But once a year she likes to get out of the comfort food zone and put on a German feast, complete with goetta balls and pork schnitzel, all paired with beers from Gordon Biersch.

“German food is stick-to-your-ribs type of food and that’s what we enjoy cooking,” said McCarty, who is celebrating Science Hill’s 40th anniversary this year. The Das Meal II on Feb. 23 will feature a five-course meal, co-hosted by her, beer wonk Michael Beckmann and event planner Caroline Knop.

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Goetta Balls are part of the first course

“We challenged her a few years ago with the German thing,” said Beckmann, a veteran Louisville restaurant manager. Last year, “(w)hen Ellen did that pork schnitzel, and soaked it in the beer for 24 hours, it came out nice, soft and tasty. You have to go to the Motherland to get stuff like that.”

Das Meal sold out last year, and McCarty has room for 80 for the event. Tickets are $70, a portion of which goes to Apron, Inc., a charity that has a special place in her heart. Apron raises money to help pay restaurant workers’ bills when an unexpected tragedy keeps them from earning a living. (Eat Drink Talk is a proud supporter of Apron!)

Two years ago, McCarty was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and couldn’t work for many months. She’s since become cancer-free.

“The bills piled up and Apron came in and paid some of my bills for me,” she said. “Fighting the fight against cancer and winning was not easy, but having the help of Apron was unbelievable and I want to give back to my fellow friends in the industry assisting them with their battle.”

Each of the five courses will be paired with a Gordon Biersch beer, and dessert includes a special dish incorporating Jagermeister.

Michael Beckmann and Ellen Gill McCarty

Michael Beckmann and Ellen Gill McCarty

Beckmann credits McCarty for the creation of the special menu. “If you challenge her, she comes up with great stuff. The flavors are as good as it gets.”

For those not familiar with Science Hill, it’s located in the historic Wakefield-Scearce building, home to an amazing antique gallery. McCarty says visiting is “truly like walking back in time.”

She said customers come from throughout the region and consider Science Hill a destination. With the growth in the area, including the nearby Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass and other attractions, the restaurant continues to see new customers as well.

“We get people who have been coming for years and they bring their grandchildren, and the grandchildren grow up and bring their children and grandchildren. That’s cool about our place,” McCarty said.

For more information and to make reservations for Das Meal, call 502.633.2825.

To hear Ellen and Michael on the EatDrinkTalk podcast, press the Play Arrow below:

 

Biersch Brewer Learned Craft Beer in Cincy, Chicago and Milwaukee

You don’t have to be a chemistry major to excel in the intricacies of brewing beer, but it doesn’t hurt. For Nicholas Landers, his University of Cincinnati education put him a step ahead during a six-week school at the Siebel Institute in Chicago, one of the only “beer schools” in the U.S.

Three years into his job as brewmaster at Louisville’s Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at Fourth Street Live, Landers says he’s thrilled to be making daily decisions about beer.

“At the end of the day, you get to have a beer. If it’s a good day, you get to have two,” he said.

2016-12-30-13-58-28Landers said he keeps eight to 10 taps serving locally made brew at the restaurant, a challenge given that all the beer made at Biersch is served there. He said the brewery had a great 2016, selling 666 barrels.

“I like the brewpub aspect. Part of it is you have to feel out what people are going to drink in the next month or so,” he said. “You don’t really know exactly. It can fluctuate, but it can be difficult.”

When Landers went to beer school in 2009, he spent money he’d saved for a vacation, and learned all about raw materials, production, fermentation, yeast, packaging, and cleaning.

Then he “blanketed the Earth with resumes” before landing a job at Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee.

A few years later, with an eye toward moving closer to his hometown of Cincinnati, Landers jumped at the chance to come to Louisville.

Nicholas Landers at Gordon Biersch

Nicholas Landers at Gordon Biersch

And while Gordon Biersch is one among many national chains along Fourth Street, it does get involved in local events. Last September, it sold $3 pints of its Blonde Bock and donated some proceeds to Stage One Children’s Theatre. It does a Pints for Parkinson’s event in the spring.

Landers said he offered up the opportunity to be a Brewer for a Day for a charity, and the prize was won by Tailspin Ale Fest organizer Tish Gainey. That collaboration resulted in what he calls a “Belgian Double” — a beer that’s been sitting in a beer barrel there for five months. He plans to tap it for the Tailspin event Feb. 18.

While the number of local and regional breweries has skyrocketed since Landers arrived in Louisville in 2013, he says the city is still growing up as a beer town, and that he sees a growth in demand for craft beer especially.”Louisville is growing quickly, it’s in its teen years now,” he said.

Proof of Excellence with Mike Wadja; Going to (Beer) School with Nicholas Landers; and a New Year’s scoop

We’re celebrating the New Year with another great podcast focused on eating and drinking in Louisville. We start things off with a news scoop — Steve reports that the Meridian Cafe in St. Matthews is the first restaurant closure of the year. But that’s actually good news, because operator Kristin Fults is reopening in Prospect with Melrose Café, and her old spot will become an El Taco Luchador later this year. The big story last week was the closing of Hillbilly Tea downtown, which prompted a post critical of operator Karter Louis on EatDrinkTalk and prompted a deluge of feedback in social media.

We got even more response to Steve’s post about media coverage of the industry, with many nodding their heads about reporters who don’t do the research and learn the details of what they’re writing about. The bottom line, though, is that we can all improve our skills, and the first of the year is a good time to reflect and resolve to do better. The same goes for restaurateurs, who must push to provide better service to keep the city among the nation’s elite restaurant towns.

In our favorites segment, Rick raves about the baked ziti at Silvio’s in St. Matthews, while Steve recommends marinated, pan-seared octopus served at La Chasse. He said the Normandy Jam cocktail there was complex and satisfying, while Rick kept with tradition and sipped champagne at midnight on New Year’s Eve at Loui Loui’s in J-Town.

The show has two great interviews. Mike Wajda, the executive chef at Proof on Main, has made his mark on that legendary restaurant. A genuinely nice guy, he was happy to show off the charcuterie and fermented pepper hot sauce tucked away in the 21C basement. Nicholas Landers, the top brewer at Gordon Biersch at Fourth Street Live!, knows beer. A chemistry major from Cincinnati, Landers played tube in a beer band there before heading to Chicago for beer school. Listen in to hear about the national chain’s involvement in local charities and events.

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Mike Wadja

Nicholas Landers

Nicholas Landers