Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Best Bets: Creamed spinach at 117 Prime

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2019 at 4:06 PM

Creamed spinach at 117 Prime - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Creamed spinach at 117 Prime

Popeye had a lot to do with me liking greens.

As a child, I went through a period where I hated turnip greens, sweet potatoes, bananas, liver, buttermilk, beets, and Mexican food. Greens was at the head of the list — until my mother bought a can of spinach.

My brother and I got her to buy a can of spinach because we wanted to be like Popeye. It might have been "Popeye" brand. She had to open the can about three fourths of the way so it would look like the cans in the cartoons. Popeye squeezed the cans open and plopped the spinach into his mouth. Part of the lid always was attached to the can. My mother had to put heavy tape around the edge of the lid so we wouldn’t cut ourselves while trying to look like Popeye. This sort of lessened the effect we we were trying to achieve.

The outcome of all this was we discovered we loved spinach. It didn’t taste like canned turnip greens, which, I later discovered, my mother didn’t like, either. She served them because they’re good for you.

Well, if chef Ryan Trimm was cooking when I was a child, I might have bypassed Popeye and the empty spinach cans. I tasted Trimm’s creamed spinach during a recent trip to his 117 Prime restaurant. It’s one of the most delectable side dishes I’ve eaten. And, I’ll even say, it’s the best creamed spinach I’ve ever eaten.

I asked Trimm to tell me about it.

“I knew what was in creamed spinach and I made it,” he says. “I played with it. I knew the basic idea of what creamed spinach was and we played with it ‘till I got it.”

He wanted it to be “traditional creamed spinach - a combination of two different cheeses, shallots, garlic, spinach, cream, and salt and pepper.”

And, he says, “It’s always a white cheese."

The taste is spectacular. “Ours is rich. We put more cheese in it than most people do. It costs a lot to make. It’s not cheaply made by any means.”

I ordered the creamed spinach with my steak at 117 Prime, but, I have to say, I could make a meal out of the spinach. “It’s about 12 ounces of creamed spinach,” Trimm says.

Creamed spinach is something Trimm just likes to eat. “It’s something I remember from steak houses. I love spinach, sauteed, Italian spinach. And creamed spinach is something I’ve always enjoyed. When I go to a steakhouse, I almost always order sauteed mushrooms and creamed spinach. They’re two favorites.”

Two of his favorite places to get creamed spinach are Peter Luger Steakhouse in New York and The Palm in New York City.

Now you can stay in Memphis and get a great one.

Note: I’ve added a video of chefs Trimm and head chef Alex Switzer making creamed spinach at 117 Prime. It’s going to make you hungry.

117 Prime is at 117 Union Avenue; 901-433-9851

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Swanky's Coming Downtown

Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2019 at 2:47 PM


Look for later hours and a new dinner menu when the new Swanky’s Taco Shop opens Downtown in the old LYFE Kitchen space in The Chisca on Main. The restaurant, which will become the third Swanky’s location, is slated to open in April, says owner/founder/managing partner Matt Wilson.

“I would anticipate us staying open probably on the weekends,” he says. “Probably the bar open until until 12 or 12:30. Something like that. The kitchen open till 11 on the weekend and probably 10 during the week.

“We will be providing our casual, quick lunch option, which has been shown to be successful for us for almost 14 years. Nighttime table service and a different dinner menu will be unveiled at that location. You won’t consider it a lunch spot, if you know what I mean. A more refined atmosphere.”

And, he says, the new location offers “a great patio opportunity.”

The old LYFE space is only three years old, so Wilson says, “For the majority of it, we’re not going to change a whole lot. Do some demolition of walls and things to open up our queue.”

But, he says, “It’s in really good shape. They took really good care of it.”

They will move into 3,885 square feet, which includes the interior of the restaurant, the dining room and bar, says Chase Carlisle, managing partner of The Chisca on Main. The space also comes with a 1,200 square-foot-patio.

They haven’t set a date for the opening, but Wilson hopes it will be in April.

Wilson says, “So much happening in Downtown. It’s going to be our third store in Memphis. We looked Downtown for years and years and we haven’t found the right spot. And timing wasn’t right. We looked at One Commerce Square probably seven year ago. It didn’t work out.

“Now I feel there’s so much momentum for our great city and what’s going on Downtown. We cater to all sorts of clients, who have been asking for Swanky’s to come Downtown for a long time. Chase Carlisle brought the opportunity to my attention and we started talking about it late last spring.”

David Delapav, who ran Salsa for 14, 15 years, will be “the man in charge Downtown. And we’re already hired some folks and got them training at the Swanky’s on Colonial. We’re fired up. We anticipate a bigger bar business there than we have at our other stores.”

What sets Swanky’s apart? “It’s a commitment to serving the freshest food that we possibly can. We get produce delivered six days a week. And everything we do there is as fresh as possible. It’s certainly not fancy, but we feel we can deliver some healthy alternatives and no MSG garbage. We keep that stuff out and offer fresh flavors.”

Their catering business, with their fajita bars, “continues to grow at leaps and bounds.”

“Tenn Mex” is how they describe their food. “This concept was born in Memphis. Whether it’s our pretty sizable variety of bourbons we offer to some different things we’ve done dessert-wise, we feel like we’ve kept our connection to the Mid-South when we can.

“The whole deal is not possible without having a big crew of folks that are great team members. And we’re only as good as our frontline.”

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Monday, February 4, 2019

No More Plastic Bags at Cordelia's Market

Posted By on Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 10:53 AM

Cordelia's Market in Harbor Town has made the decision to get rid of its plastic bags, effective today.

And, it's having a party to celebrate!

Kroger announced last summer that it plans to do away with plastic bags by 2025. Last fall, the city council discussed plans to tax consumers for each plastic bag used. I believe Cordelia's is the first Memphis-area market to do away with the bags.

"The environment," says Erica Humphreys on the reason why Cordelia's made this move.

Humphreys, who is a manager at Cordelia's, says that plastic bags are just no good. They aren't recyclable and it takes up to 1,000 years for a bag to fully degrade, and they junk up the ocean.

Humphreys says they had been thinking about it for a while and starting feeling out their customers' reactions at the register. The ban was well received. Cordelia's will offer paper bags for those who don't bring a reusable bag.

Today at the market, 3,000 reusable bags will be given away and for those who bring their own mug, there's free coffee, and discount beer for those who bring their own pint glass. 

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

2019 Beer Bracket Coming at Ya!

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2019 at 10:22 AM


Folks, let's all raise a beer! The 2019 Beer Bracket Challenge is returning February 11th. Duking it out for the title of Best Beer of Memphis 2019 will be Crosstown, Meddlesome (last year's champ!), Wiseacre, Memphis Made, High Cotton, and Ghost River.

The bracket has been shaken up a little this year, with new categories.

Toby Sells, who is in charge of the editorial side of this gig, explains, "Instead of limiting selections to just dark, light, IPA, and seasonal, we want to let our breweries choose which four beers they want to compete. It’ll be a sort of Royal Rumble, winner-take-all kind of thing."

Sells says, "This year, we’re giving each brewery on opportunity to change one match-up they don’t like. Is your beer up against 201 Hoplar (last year’s winner)? Breweries can swap with another beer in another match up. But they can only do that one time."

Voting begins Wednesday, February 13th with the first round. Rounds last two days, with the last and fifth round running through February 22nd. Basically, it's Beer: Thirty all the time!

Beers face off NCAA-style. The beer with the most votes moves on. The final two beers left go head-to-head. The winner will be announced on Thursday, February 28th via Facebook Live.

And if that's not interactive enough for you, you can get in on the action by taking a picture with one of the competing beers to be entered for a prize. And, all those who vote are entered to win a prize.

But wait that's not all! All Memphis beer fans are invited to Aldo's Downtown to watch the seeding on Monday, February 11th, at 4:30 p.m. p.m. And then back again at Aldo's for the awarding of the VanWyngarden Cup to the winning brewery on February 28th, 3 p.m. Be there!

"We started the Beer Bracket Challenge to promote (and have fun with) Memphis beers and those who make it," says Sells. "Brewers are fun and hard-working folks and they're making some of the best damn beers in the U.S.of A. right here in Memphis, Tennessee."

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Vive le Brooks! coming this spring

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2019 at 3:03 PM


Meet Vive le Brooks!

It’s the newly rebranded Memphis Wine + Food Series for 2019 for Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Twenty-seven years ago, the Art of Good Taste series began and later became the Memphis Wine + Food Series. The fund-raising success of the series has grown over the years. It surpassed all records in 2018 with its guests chefs, winemakers, and artists.

But it was time for a change.

The museum is slated to move from Overton Park to Downtown in five years. “As we set our sights on the bluff and the building project, we just want to have a cohesive, recognizable identity for the fund-raising event,” says Brooks major gifts officer Lindsey Hedgepeth.

The new branding will “ensure the longevity” of the series, she says.

“We’re excited to refresh the series and rebrand as it gets bigger, better and continues to break records,” says Brooks executive director Emily Ballew Neff.

Meet the Winemaker, which will be held March 28th at Brooks, will kick off the series. Following a happy hour, guests will sit down to a dinner prepared by Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman. The food will be paired with hand-selected wines from the 2019 Vive le Smash (formerly Brooks Uncorked) winemaker Jesse Katz, a rising star in the Napa Valley with three labels: Aperture, Devil Proof, and The Setting.

The North Berkeley luncheon will be held May 17th at Catherine & Mary’s, one of the restaurants owned by Ticer and Hudman. Courses will be specially paired with hand-selected wines from Billy Weiss’ portfolio of North Berkeley imports.

The Grand Artisan’s Dinner will take place the same night on the terrace at Brooks. It will include a five-course dinner prepared by Hudman and Ticer that will feature select wines from Heitz Family Cellars, which has been one of the dominant producers in Napa Valley for the last 55 years. Guest chefs will include Ryan Prewitt of New Orleans restaurant Peche Seafood Grill.

The Grand Auction, which will be held May 18th at Brooks, will include a happy hour before bidding takes place on more than 50 live auction lots. These will include rare and high profile wines, exotic trips, jewelry, fine art, private dinners, and tastings. Ticer and Hudman will create the cuisine. Wine will be provided by the featured vintners Katz and Heitz Family Cellars. Charlie Hanavich will be the featured artist.

Vive le Que! - the popular fall barbecue event - will return in the fall. More info to come.

VIve le Brooks! Is the premier fund-raising endeavor of the Brooks. Proceeds will make the arts accessible to children and adults across the Mid-South. The series contributed more than $5 million in net revenue to Brooks over the past 27 years. The money directly supports the museum’s educational and community-outreach programs.

David and Sarah Thompson and Bradley and Emily Rice are the 2019 Vive le Brooks! chairs.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Freedom Whiskey to Enter Memphis Market

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2019 at 4:54 PM

Freedom Whiskey founder/head sampler Zach Hollingsworth at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl President's Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Freedom Whiskey founder/head sampler Zach Hollingsworth at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl President's Gala.

Freedom Whiskey is slated to be introduced in Memphis in February, says founder/head sampler Zach Hollingsworth.

It’s the “shot of freedom,” says Hollingsworth, 33, who served with the Marines in Afghanistan.

I met Hollingsworth and several of those connected with the Wilmington, Ohio-based Freedom Whiskey Co. - appropriately - at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl President’s Gala, which was held January 30th at The Peabody.

The whiskey was served during the party and at the game.

Hollingsworth told me a bit about the whiskey at the party. I called him back to get more information.

He spent 2010 to 2012 in Afghanistan. “The longest we did was 69 days without a shower,” he says. “Stinky. You know what? It’s only bad for the first two weeks and then you kind of get used to it. We used to joke that we smelled like ‘freedom.’ The smell of freedom is two months on the front lines without a shower.”

If they ate or drank something they liked, they’d say, “That food tastes like freedom. That beer tastes like freedom.”

After he got back home, Hollingsworth and some of his buddies were on the back porch drinking bourbon. Everyone shouted, “Let’s do a shot of freedom.”

Hollingsworth realized “freedom” was a great name for a bourbon and he should trademark it. He went to the trademark website and couldn’t find any bourbon named “freedom.”

Outside of just loving bourbon, Hollingsworth didn’t have any experience in making it. “None whatsoever. I took off just searching what you had to do, the licenses you have to have and just started talking to everybody I knew in the business. And 90 percent of them told me to pound sand. And 10 percent that talked to me told me what I needed to do.

“I honestly just wanted to make bourbon and bring vets together and have the camaraderie we had during service. Marines enjoy their whiskey. It would be a place people could come and work. And cuss as much as they want and not get in trouble for it.”

He wanted to not only hire vets, but “hire their families and use a portion of our proceeds to help out veteran’s causes.”

Unless you’ve fought in Afghanistan, you won’t understand the closeness he and his fellow Marines feel, Hollingsworth says. “Honestly, I think any time you are in a high risk situation, shared suffering brings people together. But the way I always compare it if people ask me what’s my best time was in the Marine corps, I say Afghanistan, hands down. It’s just one of those things. You join the Marine Corps ‘cause you want to be in the fight. Nobody joins the Marine corps cause they don’t want to be out there. The Marine corps was created to fight. That’s it.

“It’s like basketball. If you practice every single day and you don’t ever play again, why be on the team? Afghanistan — that’s like our game.”

They put everything in practice, including the hours spent on the rifle range, in Afghanistan. “Eight months of getting to use your skills you develop and actually apply them.”

Asked how long it took him to get the bourbon business running, Hollingsworth says, “It took me about a year and a half from the day I started to the day I got approved to actually sell. I had partnered with a friend of mine who had a distillery already. A Navy vet. He started making our whiskey for us before we were licensed. They’d been making it since 2013. And I kind of jumped in with them in 2016.”

Freedom Whiskey is in 12 states now, Hollingsworth says. “And we’ll be in 16 by the end of April.”

They now just make bourbon, but, Hollingsworth says, “We have a barrel-aged gin that is coming out in the next couple of months.”

Their whiskey is “the smoothest 90 proof you’ll taste. A high corn mash. You’re 75 percent corn, so it’s going to have less bite than some of your more well-known whiskies. It’s a whiskey anyone can drink and it really appeals to the masses.

“We, by no means, try to articulate our whiskeys as being any fancy words. It’s smooth and damn good. Beyond that you can use any fancy words you want.”

Asked how they happened to be at the President’s Gala, Hollingsworth said they were invited by someone with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. “It was awesome. It was a really good time. Much more fancy than what me and my crew are used to. We all took showers and put on a suit.”

And, he says, “We just wanted to be a part of the Liberty Bowl and part of its veteran’s cause and get our name out there.”

Former AutoZone Liberty Bowl president and City Gear president Mike Longo told him about Freedom Whiskey, says AutoZone Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart. He called him one day and said he ran into these Freedom Whiskey guys. He told Ehrhart: “They’re veterans that came back from Afghanistan. They created their own whiskey and their own distillery and I want to support them. And I had them send me a bottle and I really liked it.’”

Ehrhart called the Freedom Whiskey Co. and told them about Longo is an Army vet and went to West Point. “I said, ‘You’ve got the patriotic theme and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl is all about freedom.’”

He told them, “We’ll furnish some of your product at the the gala.”

“And the product was in some of the sky boxes during the game. We really appreciated them coming on board as sponsors.”

Jake Ittel, Zach Hollingsworth and Lawrence Ryefield at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl President's Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jake Ittel, Zach Hollingsworth and Lawrence Ryefield at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl President's Gala.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Greyhound is Now Open

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2019 at 1:51 PM


The Greyhound, in the new Hilton Garden Inn Downtown on Union, opened last Thursday.

This chic bar, which claims to be the first of its kind in the city, specializes in craft gin cocktails.

The name is a nod to the bus station that once stood in the same location. Greyhounds abound in the bar. Two statues of the dogs, named Danny and Jude, guard the door. Ice for the drinks can be stamped with an image of the dog, and you can buy stickers with greyhounds on them from an old stamp machine.

This a bar less about the drinking than it is about the experience. A bar trolley is used, so drinks can be made table-side. The cocktails are served in pretty Waterford crystal glasses with little tin straws. A smokebox is available so drinks can be infused with a smoky flavor. And the bar menu has a page with a circle on it for placing your drink — to frame it just right for social media.

Kel's Bells
  • Kel's Bells

The Greyhound carries some 50 gins. Bar manager Kendrick Cook says you can't really beat gin for its versatility. You can make it sweet or bitter or spicy, he says, it all works.

Among the signature cocktails are the Greyhound Station (Hayman's Sloe Gin, mint, grapefruit, Aperol, oleo); Memphis Grizzlies (Botanist gin, creme de violet, lime, and seasonal berries); and the Keeper, which is a nod to the new soccer team, with Brugal rum, Cynar, Orgeat, and tiki bitters.

And there are the classics, such as the Gimlet, the Martini, Last Word, and Sazerac, as well.

The bar menu features twists on Southern classics, including a Jack Daniels' BBQ brisket sandwich, Southern chicken with grilled chicken and pimentos cheese, chicken wings, and house-made pub chips.

The Greyhound opens daily at 4 p.m.


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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Midtown Donuts Opening February 1st

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2019 at 4:37 PM


Midtown Donuts, at the site of Donald's Donuts, is set to open February 1st, according to owner Ly Touch.

Touch's family runs Howard's Donuts on Summer, but Touch says that Midtown Donut will offer more than Howard's Donuts.

Touch says that Midtown Donuts will offer the same donut menu as Howard's Donuts, but also offer breakfast sandwiches, salads and sandwiches for lunch. There will also be iced coffee drinks as well.

The space will offer outdoor seating. The inside looks similar to Donald's. There's definitely more seating.

Midtown Donuts will be open from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Rizzo's Closing (temporarily) for Repairs

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 1:55 PM

Obsidian PR
  • Obsidian PR

Rizzo's on South Main will close for about a month for repairs. The last service will be Sunday (January 20th) brunch.

A tree growing into the north wall of the restaurant's building necessitated the repairs to the wall and the floor.

But, Rizzo's will go on in a series of pop-ups.

The first pop-up is at Fuel, Friday-Saturday, January 25th-26th. Rizzo's Michael Patrick says that he hopes to do a vegan or vegetarian dish or two, "As a nod to Fuel and as a thank you."

Fuel closed in late December, though it still runs its food truck and catering operations. In Fuel's announcement of its closing, they stated that they wanted to host pop-ups.

After Fuel, Rizzo's will move on to the 409 Main food hall. This pop-up will run from January 29th through February 21st.

Patrick says that one of the reasons he's doing the pop-ups is to keep his valued staff close by and employed. "I have a great team," he says. "I don't want to lose them."

Patrick has no set menu yet for the pop-up. He says to check his Facebook page for updates on that point. The pop-ups will be prixe fixe, $50 for three or four courses.

Patrick says the goal of the repairs is to make the restaurant safe. He's not planning any new, fancy bells and whistles.

Of the pop-ups, he says, "I encourage people to come see us." 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Westy's Expands into Midtown

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2019 at 11:35 AM


Having a late-night craving for some that famous Westy's hot fudge pie, but cannot — cannot! — put on shoes?

Well, you're in luck. Westy's has expanded into Midtown and is now offering delivery.

Westy's owner Jake Schorr says he recognized a transition in the restaurant industry and that meant delivery.

The restaurant, in the old Beeker's space at 1607 Madison near Pho Binh, has a small dine-in area and offers pick-up as well.

Schorr says Westy's Express will eventually offer the full Westy's menu as well as some additional items, including a package meal, such as country-fried steak with three vegetables, and a number of dessert items.

Westy's Express opens at 4 p.m., but will eventually be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Westy's is using its own drivers, but Schorr expects to sign up with Door Dash.

When asked why he's opened an second location, Schorr jokes, "I don't know better."

He says, "I wanted to expand our presence but I couldn't do that Downtown. That's how I looked at it."


Friday, January 4, 2019

Best Bets: Three Kings Epiphany Cake

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2019 at 3:07 PM

Three Kings cake for Epiphany - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Three Kings cake for Epiphany

I like to be the one to find the king in the “King Cake” during Lent. This is the green, yellow, and purple-frosted coffee-cake-like concoction, which sometimes is filled with cream cheese. It usually is decorated with Mardi Gras beads and other knick knacks. A little plastic baby, which symbolizes Jesus, is hidden in the cake.

Whoever is first to find the baby is supposed to buy the cake the next year. I just like the thrill of the hunt.

If you just can’t wait for the King Cakes to arrive, you can buy a “Rosca de Reyes,” also known as the “Three Kings” cake. It’s an Hispanic tradition for the feast of Epiphany. And it's another chance to find a plastic baby in a baker’s confectionery.

Kay Bakery, which also makes King Cakes, makes “Three Kings” cakes. This year, they’ll make about 400 cakes, says owner Queo Bautista.

The cake symbolizes the Three Wise Men. “When they brought gifts to Baby Jesus,” Bautista says.

A plastic baby is hidden in the cake, which symbolizes hiding Baby Jesus from King Herod. According to the Bible, Herod, who didn’t know where Jesus was, wanted to kill all baby boys who were born about the time Jesus was born to make sure he’d get rid of him. He was afraid Jesus was going to one day become the new ruler.

Unlike the fancy “King Cake,” the “Three Kings Cake” basically is “bread with some fruit on top,” Bautista says.

The sweet fruits on top of the cake are candied figs, cherries, and strips of green, yellow and red candied papaya, which symbolize the gifts the Kings brought Jesus. They were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Dollops of yellow sugar icing also adorn the top of the cake, which is made from a slightly sweet dough.

The cake is round to symbolize that “Jesus has no beginning and no end,” Bautista says.

In Mexico, the cake traditionally is served on Epiphany Sunday, which, this year, is January 6th. Children receive small gifts — “Not as big as Christmas” — to symbolize the gifts, which the kings brought Jesus. “Gifts to the new king.”

I love the subtle, sweet taste of the Epiphany Cake. And, to make things even sweeter, I instantly found the plastic baby. Unlike the little pink ones usually in a seated position in the King Cake, these babies are white and in a standing position. My editor said the baby looked like an “android.”

You can order Epiphany Cakes through January 5th  at Kay Bakery. Small, which serves 12, is $18; medium, which serves 20, is $25; and large, which serves 30, is $30.

Kay Bakery is at 667 Avon Road. Call: (901)-767-0780.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Details on Second Line's Day of Warmth

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2018 at 2:04 PM


On New Year's Day, the Second Line is serving breakfast for anyone in need.

Details below ...

For the second year in a row on New Years Day morning, Second Line Memphis will open its doors for breakfast to people who need a hot meal free of charge, from 9am to noon. They will serve breakfast, give free haircuts, and hand out coats to the guests alongside a team of volunteers and city officials.

MATA buses will have two pick up locations in midtown (Living Hope Church 815 North McLean) and downtown (The Carpenter’s House Room in the Inn 212 N Second Street Memphis) starting at 8:30AM (last shuttle at 11:30). Any mission group, ministry, etc. (who work with the homeless community) that would like to be involved that day should bring people to one of those locations. Anyone wanting to donate coats, jackets, socks, etc. can bring them to the Second Line now until the New Years Eve.

“Everyone deserves to feel special, to be given the basic dignity we all deserve. We want to be a part of spreading that kindness to others.” - Chef Kelly English

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ysaac Ramirez to leave The Gray Canary

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2018 at 4:56 PM

  • Michael Donahue
  • Ysaac Ramirez

Ysaac Ramirez will leave his post as chef de cuisine at The Gray Canary on Dec. 31.

Ramirez, 38, says he’s leaving to “pursue another opportunity and possibly open my own restaurant in Memphis, hopefully.”

When he was 15, Ramirez moved from California to Memphis, where he graduated from Bartlett High School and L’ecole Culinaire.

Nine years ago, he went to work for Jackson Kramer at Interim. He then began his long tenure at restaurants owned by Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman.

He was one of the opening cook at Hog & Hominy before becoming a pasta cook at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen.

Ramirez then moved to North Carolina, where he worked for Colin Bedford at The Fearrington House Restaurant & Village. He then worked in the restaurant at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill.

Rameriz was back working for Ticer and Hudman when he moved to New Orleans and helped open Josephine Estelle, where he was sous chef. He then became executive chef at the Ace Hotel in New Orleans.

After two years, he moved back to Memphis and helped open The Gray Canary, which opened Jan. 23, 2018.

When he opens his own restaurant, Ramirez would concentrate on Latin cuisine. “Going back to my heritage,” he says. “My dad is from Mexico. Just going back to my roots and incorporating not just Mexican cuisine, but various Latin-style cuisines. And dealing with a lot of seafood.”

Thursday, December 13, 2018

PETA At It Again

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 11:44 AM

PETA, the animal advocacy group, is trying to start some shit, y'all.

The group recently posted a billboard on Summer depicting the three Wise Men. It reads, "Be Wise. Have Faith in Veganism."

Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks

The billboard was placed near two churches at Christmastime.

From PETA's press release:

"Going vegan is the perfect way to honor the Christmas message of peace on Earth and goodwill to all members of creation," says PETA Vice President Colleen O'Brien. "PETA is encouraging everyone to celebrate with compassion by choosing a delicious vegan roast for the holiday table."
That may be a tough sell in this city. But... but(!) ... in sorta related news, the newly elected Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris held a VEGAN BARBECUE on Wednesday for staff and media as part of a kick off for his "Health and Fitness Initiative." 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Vault Unlocks New Menu

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 1:30 PM

Zane Wilson, Aaron Winters and Zane Wilson in the kitchen at The Vault - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Zane Wilson, Aaron Winters and Zane Wilson in the kitchen at The Vault

Ring out the old “The Vault on G. E. Patterson” and ring in “The Vault Gastropub.”

Beginning Dec. 31, “Gastropub” will replace “G. E. Patterson” in the name of the restaurant at 124 G. E. Patterson Avenue.

But that’s not all that’s happening.

“New year, new menu, kind of a new branding,” says The Vault’s executive chef/owner Aaron Winters. “We’re freshening up South Main a little.”

Or, as he says, “We’re having a little transition at The Vault. We’re going to have new hours, new menus for the lunch, dinner and the bar menu. And just changing up a lot of the dishes. We’re going to keep a lot of the favorites, but have a lot of vegetarian options and more small plates.”

The favorites will include the Smashburger. “It’s an Oklahoma style burger. It’s a ball of meat. You smash it on the grill, cover it with thinly-shaved onions, press the onions into the meat. We sell a ton of them.”

The Smashburger recently was featured on Late Night Eats on the Cooking Channel.

“For dinner, we’re keeping our Steak Frites - sous-vide ribeye with compound butter and string French fries.”

New items will include salt and pepper catfish. “We do a buttermilk pickle and hot sauce brine and it’s fried with corn meal that has roasted peppercorn and sea salt in it. And it’s served with green onion ranch.we make in house.”

Another is the charred beet salad - roasted beets with goat cheese, arugula pesto and lemon with an arugula salad with candied pecans.

“The new menu is going to be active in the restaurant Jan. 4, which is a Friday. We’re open for dinner and lunch. Our hours are going to be changing Dec. 31. We’ll be open seven days a week.”

The restaurant will be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.


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