For a year now, Ten Tables pop-up events have packed the house. The chef team is taking a break for several weeks. Photo by Steve Coomes
For a year now, Ten Tables pop-up events have packed the house. Now the chef team is taking a break for several weeks to open a restaurant. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Mondays off for Ten Tables: After last week’s Ten Tables fundraiser for Maria’s Greek Deli and SuperChefs, which were destroyed in a fire earlier this month, the chefs behind the pop-up restaurant events are stepping back for a break. Not because they want to rest, but because they’ve got other work to do. Specifically speaking, chef regulars Eric Morris and Ethan Ray, who hope to open Gospel Bird in New Albany in February.

Dustin Staggers, chef-owner of Roux, Epic Sammich Co. and America. The Diner. (the host site for Ten Tables) admitted he’s looking forward to the break because his restaurants are busy.

(In fact, it doesn’t appear any operator I’ve talked with lately is suffering the usual January slump.)

“The past few weeks have been really rough for us,” Staggers said, referring to the holiday rush that really hasn’t quit. “(S)o we decided to take a few weeks off so we didn’t all die.”

Yes, death is a bad thing, so good call, Mr. Staggers. We prefer to visit your restaurants, not your gravesite.

Morris estimates Ten Tables is expected to resume in March, but he said his and Ray’s rejoining the Monday night food fray all depends on the health of Gospel Bird at that time.

Offal dinner at El Camino: The post on El Camino’s Facebook page says this about an unusual Feb. 3 event dubbed The Organ Donor Dinner: “This is definitely not for everyone, but it may be for you. Six courses of offals (sic) with cocktail pairings, brought to you by Herradura Tequila and Chef Tyler.”

Intrigued? Confused? Fearful?El Camino wall

Chef Tyler Powell’s boss told him he wanted six special dinner menu ideas for the first part of the year, and the offal offering was his first choice.

Offal is a broad term for the viscera, organs and trimmings of a butchered animal. Those who don’t like offal say it’s the perfect term since, well, it sounds just like “awful.” But some like Powell say they should give neglected meats a chance.

Offal is definitely an acquired taste for some, and even those who like it rarely like every option. Some cuts, like sweetbreads (thymus glands), are meatier and less mealy on the palate than say, liver. Or other cuts, such as heart, don’t have the metallic overtones as does say, liver. (Sorry, no amount of caramelized onions can cover up liver for me.)

Check out his menu. It would warm Hannibal Lecter’s heart.

In the lineup are chicharrones (fried pig skin), which are fabulous, as well as crispy lamb tongue, which sounds great since I like beef tongue. And if no one told you they were serving beef heart, you’d likely think it was beef roast, so count that good, too. But pork brains … though I’d try them, I doubt I’d be too fond of them.

“I like brains, but I’ve never had them for dessert,” said Powell. The dish is called PB&J French Toast. “It’s a big chunk of our house-made granola-dredged brains fried and served with french toast and house-made strawberry jam.”

Now I see why he called PB&J French Toast. “Granola-Dredged Brains” just doesn’t have the same ring.

Cost of the dinner, which includes cocktail pairings (just tequila, no Chianti, Lecter fans), is, according to the post, “$100/head.” Sorry, but think that’s funny given the context. There are only 30 seats available, so call 454-5417 now if you’re hankerin’ for some fried hog brains.

Plan to dine around for APRON on Feb. 3: It’s back and it’s bigger than last year: APRON’s Dine Around is set for Wednesday, Feb. 3, and will include 50 participating restaurants that will donate a portion of that evening’s proceeds to this valuable organization.Apron-Logo-300x222

If you’re not familiar with APRON, its mission is to provide emergency financial assistance to members of Louisville’s independent restaurant community suffering from unexpected disasters such as health issues, accidents or job losses — such as from this month’s fires at Chef Maria’s Greek Deli and SuperChefs. APRON helps pay for short-term expenses like utilities, medical bills and lost wages. According to a news release, in four years, APRON has helped more than 60 restaurant employees at more than 50 restaurants by sharing some $70,000 in grants.

And as generous as that sounds, it’s but a drop in the bucket. So get out and dine around on Feb. 3. Click here to see the list of restaurants participating in this year’s event.

Five years, $5 apps and drinks at Doc Crow’s: I don’t normally mention specials like this, but this one’s about too good to ignore. On Thursday, Feb. 11, Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar will celebrate its five-year anniversary with $5 appetizers and drink specials from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Yes, I love D.C.’s food, but a $5 craft cocktail — always done well there — is hard to beat. Here’s the drink lineup:

  • The Second Street Storm: Uncle Val’s botanical gin, lime juice, simple syrup and ginger beer
  • The Crow Cocktail #2: Rittenhouse rye, lemon juice, grenadine and bitters
  • Bourbini: Heaven Hill Green Label bourbon, Mathilde Peche liqueur, peach bitters and sparkling wine
  • Ginger Diver: Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond White Label bourbon, pineapple juice and Kronan Swedish Punsch
  • Perfect Old Fashioned: Old Forester Signature bourbon, Demerara syrup and bitters

Five bucks, folks. Five piddling dollars. Right in my price range.

According to a news release, “all the restaurant’s starters including fried green tomatoes, Southern crab cakes and the famous heap’n chips will be available at the celebratory price” of $5.

Dig deep for Chefs for Hope dinner: Every year, some of the city’s top chefs (not to mention most generous with their time) gather to raise money for the local Salvation Army Culinary Arts Training program by hosting the Chefs for Hope dinner. Set this year for Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Big Springs Country Club, the multicourse dinner will be prepared by Anoosh Shariat (Anoosh Bistro), Dean Corbett (Corbett’s: An American Place and Equus & Jack’s Lounge), Daniel Stage (Louisville Country Club), Brian Curry (Napa River Grill), Richard Doehring (Anoosh Bistro) and Josh Hillyard of Big Spring Country Club.

Chefs for hope dinnerTickets for the dinner cost $150 each and may be purchased by calling 931-5420. Regardless of the fact that the cost is tax deductible, the best part is it’s an investment in Louisville residents and in our thriving culinary scene.

According to a news release, 100 percent of the proceeds benefit the students’ classroom training. To date, 125 men and women have graduated the 10-week program, which helps individuals living in poverty learn vocational skills and self-confidence to support life-long self-sufficiency. Sullivan University is a partner in the program.

Chef shuffle at Wiltshire: Jonathan Exum, executive chef for four years at Wiltshire On Market, has been promoted to executive chef over Wiltshire Pantry Catering and Wiltshire Bakery and Café. That position opened last year following the departure of chef Oscar Maldonado. Coby Ming, executive chef at Wiltshire at The Speed (set to open in March), held down the fort in the interim.

“Jonathan has done a tremendous job at the restaurant, and I think this will be a good challenge for him,” said Susan Hershberg, owner of Wiltshire.

Replacing Exum at Wiltshire On Market is Noble Holden, a veteran Louisville chef who left the restaurant business a few years ago to work his family’s Jefferson County fields at Holden Farms. According to Hershberg, the farm is running well enough to allow Noble to return to cooking.

“I could not be more excited to have him join the Wiltshire family,” Hershberg said. “He’s the absolute perfect fit.”

Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.


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