Monday, July 25, 2016

Relevant Roasters To Become French Truck Coffee

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 3:48 PM

Geoffrey Meeker of French Truck Coffee
  • Geoffrey Meeker of French Truck Coffee

Geoffrey Meeker of the New Orleans-based French Truck Coffee has entered into a partnership with Jimmy Lewis of Relevant Roasters

Relevant Roasters will be rebranded French Truck Coffee, with Lewis in charge of the Memphis operation. The rebranding is set for September. In addition, they will open a roaster and cafe in the Crosstown Concourse building. 

Meeker started French Truck out of his home in 2012. He says he got into coffee via his cousin.

"She brought me a bag of coffee from a San Francisco roaster that was roasted the day before she got on the plane, and it was an epiphany," Meeker says. "I couldn't understand why coffee could be so good and I had never had it before. I then set about reverse-engineering to see how it could be done."

Meeker, who has a background as a chef, started the micro-roaster out of his laundry room. The coffee was delivered to customers' homes via a vintage truck. 


French Truck outgrew the laundry room. The business was moved into a warehouse with a coffee bar like Relevant's. There is now a French Truck Cafe as well.

It sells 14 types of coffee — 8 single-origin, 6 blends. 
According to Meeker, Lewis first contacted him to compare notes on the roasting business, and, eventually, Lewis asked him he was interested in a partnership. Meeker initially told him no before reconsidering what combining the brands might mean. 

As for the rebranding of Relevant into French Truck, Meeker explains the reason, "It's twofold: We feel, and Jimmy is of this opinion, that our brand is a really strong brand and it's got a lot of legs. And number two, if we were to remain two separate entities as far as naming goes, we wouldn't be able to capitalize on some of the efficiencies of having a larger operation because we would be buying two kinds of bags, two different websites, etc., etc., etc."

"Some of the steps that we've already taken and some of the lessons we've already learned get added into what Relevant was doing. We wouldn't have done this if Jimmy hadn't stayed on board," Meeker adds. 

The Crosstown Concourse French Truck will be a roaster/cafe with large windows on all sides so customers can get a peek into the roaster. The cafe will serve a European-inspired menu and beer and wine. Meeker envisions for the space coffee-centric education events, pop-up restaurants, and cuppings. 

Says Meeker of the partnership, "Jimmy already has amazing equipment. With our background in buying coffee and his background in roasting and us putting all that together, it just means that the Relevant Roaster product when it becomes French Truck is going to take one step forward as far as quality goes and the coffee that we're going to be selling in Memphis is world class, on par with what you might find in San Francisco and New York." 

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Music, Food, Fun at First Caribbean Jerk Festival

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 3:39 PM


The first annual Memphis Caribbean Jerk Festival took place at the Water Tower Pavilion on Broad Street last Saturday. The festival featured jerk food vendors, live music and/or a deejay all day, face painting, and vendors selling clothing, jewelry, cigars, and fragrances.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Guess Where I'm Eating Contest 107

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 11:38 AM

People dodge traffic for this stuff ... 


The first person to correctly ID the dish and where I'm eating wins a fabulous prize. 

To enter, submit your answer to me via email at

The answer to GWIE 106 is the scrambled eggs, hash browns, and biscuits at Barksdale, and the winner is ... Leslie Thompson! 

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Vintage 901 Wine Fest, etc.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 2:55 PM


Vintage 901, a new wine festival, is set for March 10-12, 2017. 

The three-day event will include dinners, live music, and food trucks. It will be hosted by Laurie Forster, sommelier and author of The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine. 


Cosmic Coconut is closed while they remodel, but no worries, juiceheads, the CC juice truck is operating outside the Sanderland site, 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. 

A limited menu of juices, smoothies, and wheatgrass and ginger shots are being served. 


• I would buy this wine for the bendy straw alone. Available at Miss Cordelia's


Memphis Flyer Burger Week runs through Tuesday. This here is the Bluff City Burger from Huey's. 

McAlister's Deli is offering locals a free 32 oz. sweet tea all day long on Thursday, July 21st. 

To prepare for the day, according to a press release, McAlister's conducted a survey, which found that more than half of those surveyed would rather give up chocolate than a cold glass of sweet tea. This couldn't possibly be true, but ... FREE SWEET TEA! 

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sacred 8 Dinner Series, and more news

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 4:22 PM


• Friends, this may be the only culinary event in Memphis, if not the world, inspired by the movie Point Break — and not the infamous Patrick Swayze/Keanu Reeves vehicle but the remake. 

Chef Phillip Levy has created a series of eight supper club dinners called Sacred 8, which is a nod to a Japanese philosopher character and his eight feats of nature in Point Break, Levy says.

The dinners will be titled — "Master of Eight Lives," "Emergence of Ice," "Illuminating Earth," "Ultimatum," etc. Each will have a menu reflective of the season. For example, Levy says he's considering for the first dinner, held on August 13th, serving as one of the courses a quail egg with the yolk representing the sun. 

The dinners are limited to 35 guests. Location and menu will be revealed on the day of the event.


Levy, who is 27, trained under Andreas Kisler at the Peabody before moving to San Diego and then making his way back to Memphis. He now works as a personal chef.  

The tagline for Sacred 8 is "Are you ready for the challenge?" and the last dinner is called the "Ultimatum."  It's at the beginning of the summer, and I'm thinking of serving a tricky dish you don't want to try." 

• Attention barbecue lovers, Chef Shuttle announced Tuesday that they are now delivering Rendezvous. 

* Boscos Squared will reopen tomorrow after being closed since July 4th for renovations. A rep calls it a freshening up with new paint for the bar and the floors redone. 


• Picked up this big little cake from Bluff City Coffee. I guess it's about 3 or four slices. They have chocolate, carrot, and strawberry. Cakes are $10. 

Y'all must not want Mrs. Winner's, after all. The crowdfunding campaign has raised only $285 out of its $32,000 goal. Nine days are left in the campaign. 


• Sammy Hagar sighting at Sammy Hagar's Red Rocker Bar & Grill. (Is that bear Sammy Hagar too????) 

Hagar was in town to present checks, totalling $50,000, to the local charities the Mid-South Food Bank, The Boys and Girls Club of Crittenden County, and the Steudlein Learning Center. 

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Flyer Cocktail Hour: Staff Samples New-to-Memphis Vodkas

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 3:23 PM

Two new vodka brands — LEAF Vodka and Khortytsa — are area available in Memphis by way of Athens Distributing.


A representative for the companies shipped the Flyer staff some samples to review, so on Friday afternoon, we had a little office cocktail hour. What can we say? Journalism is hard work, but somebody has to do it.


I tried the LEAF Vodka mixed with locally made (and incredibly spicy) Nikki's Hot Ass Bloody Mary Mix. LEAF is made with Rocky Mountain mineral water, which the company claims lends the vodka "a warm and savory impression." I've no idea what a warm and savory impression tastes like, but I can attest that this vodka is incredibly smooth. LEAF might be best enjoyed in a vodka martini, where nothing could come between its flavor and your mouth.


The Nikki's mix is great, but it's spiciness does tend to mask delicate flavors, meaning Nikki's is ideal for mixing with just about any vodka — high- or low-end. LEAF Vodka retails for about $19 for a 750mL bottle, a decent price for a vodka this good. Bonus: It's certified USDA organic.

Flyer reporter Chris Davis also had a bloody mary, and he said the LEAF Vodka "made my bloody merry." Reporter Toby Sells, who had his LEAF mixed with Simply Lemonade, said "I could hardly taste it, which means it was good vodka."


Next up was the Khortytsa vodka, an import from the Ukraine. They sent us their Platinum Vodka and their Honey Hot Pepper Vodka. Apparently, Khortytsa is the third biggest seller of vodka in the world, but they're just starting to enter the U.S. market. The Khortytsa (pronounced Hor-Ti-Tsa) Distillery was named among the world’s best distilleries at the 2014 New York International Spirits Competition. From the press release: "It uses a local organic filter containing schungite (a unique natural mineral) which allows it to get as close as possible to the structure of natural water. The filtration process is further enhanced with special birch and alder-tree charcoal and quartz sand sourced near the famous Crystal Mountains of the Urals near Yekaterinburg, Russia."

But how does it taste? I sampled the Platinum straight up, and it was smooth sailing. I could seriously just drink this stuff on the rocks (with a little water mixed in, of course). 

I didn't try the Honey Hot Pepper because, as a vegan, I don't consume products that contain honey. And while we weren't entirely sure if the honey was just an added flavor or actually in the product, I didn't take a chance. However, a few other staffers tried it, and there were mixed reviews.

Managing editor Susan Ellis tried it straight-up, and she said, while the vodka was smooth, she couldn't taste a pepper flavor or a honey flavor. IMB editor Richard Alley had his mixed with Nikki's Hot Ass mix, and he said he couldn't taste anything besides the mix, which he said was too hot for him. Flyer graphic designer Brian Rollins said the Honey Hot Pepper Vodka smelled like a hospital, and I took whiff and agreed. It had a sterile aroma, like something you might use to clean off medical equipment. I didn't notice that smell in the Platinum Khortytsa.

The LEAF Vodka was definitely the staff favorite, but I'd say the Platinum Khortytsa was smoothest vodka of the bunch.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

The Latest from DeJaVu, Kimbal Musk, other news

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 11:13 AM

* A DeJaVu in Midtown? 

Not exactly, says chef/owner Gary Williams. 

The Renaissance, an event venue at 1588 Madison, is now serving Williams' Creole fare, but it is not, says Williams, an extension of the DeJaVu brand. 

The DeJaVu food truck is, however, part of the brand. Williams says the truck is ready to go and is waiting to make its debut. 

"Get out the way," he says. "We're coming." 


• Did you read the story at Eater, "Why Kimbal Musk Is Opening a $5-And-Under Restaurant Concept"?

It was um ... 

"This is a park [Shelby Farms where the Kitchen will be] that's meant for all of Memphis and the population of the city lies across the income spectrum — it's not located in a wealthy part of town," says Musk.
and er ... 

"When we look at the restaurants that serve most people in Memphis, it's places like McDonald's and other fast food joints," he says. 
(just like every city in America). 

Those quibbles aside, what was interesting is the $5-and-under idea, which, according to the story will be tested out in Memphis at the Kitchenette.

The Kitchenette, at Shelby Farms, will be the grab-and-go off-shoot of the Kitchen. 

But says a spokesperson for the Kitchen, "The articles about Kimbal's $5 restaurant are not correct. The Kitchen at Shelby Farms Park will have a sister grab 'n go cafe in the Visitor's Center called Kitchenette. It will feature items on the menu that visitors can eat at the Visitors Center or they can "grab 'n go" to the park. Sandwiches, salads, coffee, etc. The information about $5 pricing is not accurate.

"Our Next Door concept opening in Crosstown Concourse will have simple, real food at affordable prices that are in-line with casual dining restaurants such as Chilis or TGI Fridays."

The Kitchen holds a grand opening fund-raiser on August 13th.  


Wine in grocery stores starting today. First 50 people to purchase wine at Kroger get a corkscrew. 

• The Memphis Food & Wine Festival has been announced for October. 

The event, to be held at the Botanic Garden, will be hosted by Jose Gutierrez and will feature Jean-Georges Vongerichten (huge!). 

Cuisine will be from 28 chefs, both local and nationally known.

Tickets are $200 per person, with prices to go up to $250 September 15th. 

• The Memphis Caribbean Jerk Festival is July 16th at the Water Tower Pavilion on Broad. Expect all kinds of Caribbean dishes — from jerk to veggies and more. There will also be a domino tournament. 


* Why the hell not? 
(I liked 'em.)

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