Friday, March 9, 2018

Cuisine, wine, retiring pianist, reborn building, Mr. Lenti turns 100, CBHS is cookin'!

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 6:29 PM

click to enlarge My dream of working in a kitchen with a great chef like Kelly English might turn into a nightmare. For the great chef. This is what my dream might look like. - JON W. SPARKS
  • Jon W. Sparks
  • My dream of working in a kitchen with a great chef like Kelly English might turn into a nightmare. For the great chef. This is what my dream might look like.

I have a dream of working in a kitchen under the guidance of a great chef like Kelly English, owner of Restaurant Iris and Second Line. It would be great to really learn how to cook. It might not be so much fun for the chef, though. People usually have to tell me how to do things many times before I finally get it. I like to call it “reiteration.”

Stephanie Ferreira had a dream that had to do with fine dining and wine. Her wish came true. Ferreira, Belinda Anderson, Deirdre Malone and Bonnie Pinkston hosted their second Vintage901 - three days of “wine, food and community” to benefit the Women’s Foundation, Anderson said.

“She and her husband (the late Chuck Ferreira) spent a lot of time touring, just going to wine festivals all over the country,” Anderson said. “That’s what they loved to do. She and her husband wanted to bring a festival here. Then her husband passed away, unfortunately. She took some time off.”

After some time she contacted Anderson. “She called me and asked me if I thought it was a good idea to have a wine festival that she and her husband wanted to have. Bring a true three-day wine festival here. She asked me if I could find some people to help.”

Anderson and her husband, Calvin, also love to attend wine festivals, so she, Ferreira, Pinkston and Malone and their team got together and made it happen.

“The Wine Coach” Laurie Forster, who has appeared on the Today Show and other programs, attended to speak to the wines for the second year in a row. “She is considered our ‘Grand Sommelier,’” Anderson said.

I attended the March 3 event, which was a dinner at Memphis College of Art. English prepared a four-course dinner with two wine pairings for each course. Food included miso roasted salmon with okonomiyaki and crema and slow roasted duck leg with local pea succotash and tarragon emulsion.

And, I have to say, I’ve never seen the first floor of MCA look so elegant.

click to enlarge Stephani Ferreira, Kelly English and Belinda Anderson at Vintage901 Perfect Pairings Dinner. - MICHAEL DONAHIUE
  • Michael Donahiue
  • Stephani Ferreira, Kelly English and Belinda Anderson at Vintage901 Perfect Pairings Dinner.

………….

click to enlarge Brother Joel McGraw and Roman Novarese at A Taste of CBHS. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Brother Joel McGraw and Roman Novarese at A Taste of CBHS.

Speaking of food, I’m always amazed at the fine chefs/restaurateurs who are a product of Christian Brothers High School, my alma mater. Ryan Trimm, owner of Sweet Grass and Next Door, Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, owners of several restaurants, including Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Hog & Hominy, Catherine & Mary’s and the new The Gray Canary, and Mike Garibaldi, owner of Garibaldi’s Pizza, are among the CBHS graduates.

I attended A Taste of CBHS, held March 4 in Hefferman Hall, a building that wasn’t even there when I graduated.

Food stations lined the walls. People packed the place. And you didn't have to tip.


………….

click to enlarge Jimmie Tucker, Margot Payne, June West, Will McGown and Juan Self at Preservation Posse After Hours at Universal Life Building. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jimmie Tucker, Margot Payne, June West, Will McGown and Juan Self at Preservation Posse After Hours at Universal Life Building.

I passed by the Universal Life Insurance Building hundreds of times in the 40-plus years I’ve worked at newspapers in the Downtown area. I always was impressed with the beautiful Egyptian Revival building and how pristine the shrubs and grass were kept. But I never went inside.

I finally got my wish March 1. I attended the first Preservation Posse After Hours event, which was held at the renovated building.

“The renovators’ happy hour series is an informal and fun way to learn about adaptive re-use and restorations projects happening all over our city,” said W. Preston Battle, who emceed the event.

According to Preservation Posse’s web site, the building, which was vacant since 2001, will re-open to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative events in April.

The building, constructed in the 1940s, was headquarters for Universal Life, which was the fourth-largest African-American-owned life insurance company in the country.

McKissack & McKissack, an African-American-owned firm in Nashville, designed the building.

Self & Tucker Properties, which purchased the building in 2006, is the developer and designer of the renovation project.

Plans are for the building to be a hub for entrepreneurship and community revitalization for organizations committed to creating a better Memphis.




……….

click to enlarge Dougan Grimes sings and plays guitar at Avon Acres. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Dougan Grimes sings and plays guitar at Avon Acres.


I remember Roger Sapp and Craig Blondis telling me about a venue they were going to open behind their Central Barbecue location on Summer. I sort of forgot about it until I got an invitation to a friends and family night event for Avon Acres, which was held Feb. 27.

On the night of the event, I walked behind the restaurant expecting to see a nice-sized building that could be rented for events. I even thought maybe it was attached to the restaurant. Then I was told to look South. I walked through the wall and saw the building. It looked enormous. That was Avon Acres.

The 5,800 square-foot venue can accommodate 300 (seated) and 375 (standing) guests.

I was impressed with Dougan Grimes, who is a bartender at Sweet Grass/Next Door. He sang and played guitar at the event.

Grimes, 33, who writes originals, played covers on his Martin acoustic/electric guitar for two or three hours with just a short break. “Different stuff like Allman Brothers and Clapton, The Band, Dylan. Roots music. Grateful Dead.”

He said he plays gigs whenever he can. “I’ll pick up something here and there. Mostly it’s for stuff like that. Little private party gigs. I haven't played out anywhere in a while. In a bar or anything like that."


Grimes hasn’t been in a band in Memphis. “I had a little group when I lived in Fayetteville, Ark. I can’t remember what we called ourselves.”


…………..

click to enlarge Charlotte Vaughn's last night as Folk's Folly pianist after 30 years. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Charlotte Vaughn's last night as Folk's Folly pianist after 30 years.

Charlotte Vaughn, on the other hand, played in a bar - for 30 years. She was a pianist for 30 years at Folk’s Folly.

She played her final gig March 1 to a packed house, full of friends and well-wishers.

Vaughn moved to Dallas, where her children live.

Vaughn plans to play piano in Dallas. “I do plan to still make music somewhere. I just don’t know where right this minute.”

“New York, New York” is the one song she’s probably played the most during her long Folk’s Folly post. “I always enjoyed playing it,” she said.

Her favorite song? Leon Russell’s “A Song For You.” I like the emotion involved in it. I love his interpretation of it. I love what it says. I love what it means. And I love the melody.”


………

click to enlarge Louis Lenti at his 100th birthday party at Ave Maria Home. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Louis Lenti at his 100th birthday party at Ave Maria Home.

Louis Lenti celebrated his 100th birthday with a party March 1 at his new home at Ave Maria Home.

Guests included the local Marine Corps League and the Knights of Columbus from The Church of the Nativity, Lenti’s home church.

The Marines in their dress blues presented the colors.

Lenti was a private first class Marine from 1941 to 1945 during World War I. He was a sharpshooter and a key figure in the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.


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