- This time on Tennessee Crossroads, you'll meet a La Vergne man who works hard to make the perfect soft pretzel, then travel to Franklin to meet an artist and her inspiring creatures. We'll visit a Nolensville restaurant known for cozy comfort food and wind up at Union City and Discovery Park of America. Hi everyone, I'm Joe Elmore. It's time again for Tennessee Crossroads, welcome. Does the taste and smell of certain foods take you back to a great memory? Maybe of the ballpark, a fair or some other great event? When most of us think of the giant soft pretzel, we recall doing something well, fun. Miranda Cohen had some fun in La Vergne where she met a man who's elevating the soft pretzel to gourmet status. - [Miranda] Ever since Vincent Dreffs was young, he knew baking was exactly what he wanted to do. Armed with a mixer at age nine and an incredible inspiration, his aunt Dorothy. - My mother's sister, married into a very German family and she spent the time and learned from her mother-in-law the true art of pretzel making and just passed it along, down the line. She was gracious enough and patient enough to teach children the art. And they were always, always, always a favorite treat. We longed for the days that, you know Aunt Dorothy was making pretzels and they were going to come our way. - [Miranda] Vincent perfected the meticulous process of creating pretzels years ago but it was after a chance meeting with the founders of Nashville's famous Oktoberfest, the wheels and his mixer started to turn. - [Vincent] My love for pretzels and making them started as a child. The company actually started when a friend and then in an industry association meeting, I learned that he was the producer of Nashville's Oktoberfest which happens to be the third largest in America. And I talked about pretzels and he said, why am I sourcing pretzels if I have somebody that is you know, a master and can make them? - [Miranda] After that first Oktoberfest, he knew he was onto something. - Had a line that was an hour long to order and an hour long to get your order and never looked back. - [Miranda] Today, the only thing Dreffs looks back at, is his cherished old family recipe. - [Vincent] We took her original handwritten recipe which I still have a copy of, sourced products that gave us the right texture and flavor and allowed us to do them in mass. - [Miranda] In his test kitchen in Rutherford County, he will try out different toppings and shapes but he never strays from the original recipe and only the finest ingredients are mixed together. - [Vincent] We currently don't use any extended shelf life products. It's a clean ingredient list. - [Miranda] Long ago, Vincent mastered the unmistakable pretzel twist and makes it look easy. - [Vincent] My absolute favorite part is the roll in the twist and that's why I don't think that'll ever come out of our, who we are. - [Miranda] He has the baking down to a science. The pretzels will then proof, allowing the yeast to rise. They are removed from the oven and given a quick bath. - [Vincent] What the lye does for the pretzels is it gives it its really deep mahogany color and that texture, kind of that biting texture that you get out of it. - [Miranda] It's back into the oven and then golden brown perfection. Each pretzel is then decorated with pure flavor. - [Vincent] We use a double tumbled pretzel salts out of the Hoosier Hills of Indiana. - [Miranda] Whether it's garlic Parmesan, maple brown sugar, cinnamon, or even an everything seasoning. - [Vincent] I feel like a healthy covering of our toppings, just because every bite matters. - [Miranda] And the Nashville Soft Pretzel Company is also putting a new twist on the iconic shape itself. They make seasonal designs like candy canes, hearts, X's and O's, and what's a football party without a soft pretzel? - [Vincent] We don't alter is our recipe so I can form it different ways, I can cut it, I can make it small, large, whatever it is that you want to do but the recipe is always going to be the same. - You will know you have an authentic Nashville Soft Pretzel Company pretzel two ways. First, the taste is absolutely incredible. And second, because Vincent rolls every pretzel by hand, they will each have the two thumbprint seal of approval. - [Vincent] We put, you know, two fingerprints of approval on every pretzel cause that's how you seal it together. And that's, if it doesn't look right on the counter, it's not going to look right anywhere else. - [Miranda] The Nashville Soft Pretzel Company also has a brutzel which is pretzel dough wrapped around a bratwurst. A croissantzel, which is the delicious marriage between a croissant and a pretzel. And they are even experimenting with hamburger buns. All of this goodness is available for delivery pickup and order through their website. And Dreffs always feels the support and love of the woman who started it all, his Aunt Dorothy. - You know, I think she was always a very proud person and very promotional and I do think that's what she would be is, you know, kind of my biggest cheerleader. You know, it's the traditional pretzel and that's really what we set out to do, a traditional German style hand rolled pretzel and you find the good ones, you know it's worth every calorie and every carbohydrate. We prefer our product get eaten the day it's made. So if you want it today, we will make it today and get it to you today. And hopefully you eat it today. - [Miranda] And something tells us we don't think that will be a problem. - Thanks Miranda, artists who spin or weave to create their works, know it's a long journey from fleece to finished and some encouragement along the way is very helpful. Leanne Butchko is not only a talented artist but is also surrounded by a supporting crew who have a big stake in her work. Rob Wiles traveled to her Mistletoe Farm near Franklin. - When you're an artist, sometimes it's a little difficult to find raw materials that you want to make your things out of but not for Leanne Butchko. No, she just has to step outside. Right Izzy? Leanne is an artist who creates garments and rugs, most from fleece from the alpacas that surround her here at Mistletoe Farms in Franklin. Leanne loves her four legged friends, knows each one by name. - This is Savannah, this one's born on April 1st. - [Rob] And that just sort of happened when years ago, some of her friends were thinking about raising alpacas. - And I said, what's an alpaca? And then I went started researching, fell in love, decided that I wanted to give it a try. It started out with three and here we are today. - [Rob] Leanne says, alpacas are magic. - [Leanne] They just make you smile, make you happy, bring your blood pressure down. Just give, give you a lot of joy and people that see them I think realize, you know, they bring a lot of happiness. I think they're very stress-relievers. Instead of massage, I'll do alpacas. - [Rob] Okay, she had alpacas, now what to do with them. Well, they have to lose their winter coats every year. This is Alpha having his removed. - [Leanne] You know, their body temperature just isn't, it doesn't like regulate reset itself. They've all been sunbathing ever since the fleece got off their backs, they'll just lay and, you know take the vitamin D and just very happy. - [Rob] And the shearing results in pounds of amazing fleece. - [Leanne] It's very soft, it's kind of, it's breathable. It's a kind of a hollow fiber, so it retains your body heat yet it breaths so you don't sweat. They say it's warmer than wool yet it's not the same consistency. It's like it doesn't have the lanolin that wool has so it's easier to process. - [Rob] So Leanne decided to be an artist. - [Leanne] Took my first class, a weaving class and decided I needed to do something with all the fiber that just came off their backs. And I've taken over the years belting classes and spinning classes and dying classes and about three years ago, I started my own organic dye garden. So I grow my Indigo and marigolds and fennel and Holly Hawks and that kind of thing. So I can kind of keep it natural. And, and that's one of my favorite things. - [Rob] Leanne does it all right here from fleece to finish. - [Leanne] We can make scarves hats, gloves. If it's not prime fleece, if it's their second, like their legs or their neck, even we'll make rugs, we'll make blankets. We'll make, if it's really not the best quality, it'll be inserts for your shoes but you can make just about anything you can think of, I mean. - [Rob] All right, give the alpacas a haircut and then. - [Leanne] And then I put it through, I have a little small cart, the same thing a mill would have, but a little baby one and put it through there to get it all lined up in the same direction and I can blend it with other things if I want to put silk in it and dying can be done at different processes of it also. But if I just am doing white, then I'll put it through the cart and sit down at my spinning wheel and spin it. I can do weaving or knitting. - [Rob] All of this is a lot of work, not to mention the work of taking care of her pals who donate their fleece to the project. But when Leanne gets a little tired or frustrated, those same friends help again, just by being themselves. - [Leanne] They're all joyous and happy. Some are spitters and screamers and you know, it's, they're just like people, very inquisitive. They usually smell you and so they can sense if they're in danger. They're wonderful around children because they know they're never fearful or you know, afraid of the kids. So you could sit in the middle of a field and they'd surround you. - [Rob] Once a year, they have an open house here at Mistletoe Farm and people come out by appointment anytime to get a close look at these happy animals. Those visits, even the day to day running of the farm, taking care of her fleece suppliers, working at her loom. - [Leanne] It's a labor of love. Every, every piece is unique and a labor of love. - [Rob] And happiness at a very peaceful place, Mistletoe Farm in Franklin. - Thanks Rob, health conscious dining seems to be all the rage these days and with good reason. Most of us could stand to lose a few pounds or more. But in these stressful times, folks are often searching for a little comfort, even in their food. Ed Jones found a place in Nolensville that delivers that warm, cozy feeling only Southern hospitality can bring. - [Girl] Yummy, yummy. - Is it yummy, good food. - Good food. - Yeah, good food, give me some, give me some. Oo, like good food. - [Ed] If you're looking to get some good comfort food, you'd have a hard time finding anything to beat good old Southern Hospitality. Now the Southern Hospitality we're talking about is a diner, you understand, not just a state of mind but the friendly owners, Scotty and Tamyra Brown don't mind serving a side of hospitality with every delicious meal. - We have a great family environment here. It's very family oriented. You know, you can feel comfortable bringing your kids here, bringing your entire family. - The feel that we have for our customers, we just want them to leave ecstatic and we just provide the best comfort food around. - [Ed] You know what they say, it's not boasting, if you can back it up. - People who work here are for one thing, they're wonderful. And then there are certain food items that we're obsessed with so we just have to come back and have them. A lot of locals are here. This is, you know, mostly really Southern cooking and it's just quiet, delicious, and it's friendly and fun. As you can see. - Oh, you want to give me a hug? Oh, you are so cute. - [Ed] We can't guarantee you a hug from any of the Brown's five beautiful daughters but Tamyra and Scotty can promise you. - A full tummy. The feeling of you need to go take a nap. - Go take a nap and just having a great feel, a great Southern feel when they leave. - [Ed] Scotty's cooking skills, which inspire that great feeling, come from the ultimate source of comfort for most of us, dear old mom. - I actually learned to cook over the phone when I was at MTSU at college. Me and my roommates, we would gather up $2 a piece. And so we can put that together and buy a pack of chicken. So I would just call my moms, you know, walk me through it, and it clicked and ever since then, I've just been cooking. - [Ed] Cooking indeed but no man is an island or a food dispenser. So Scotty relies on his dedicated staff, some of the best in the business, the creme de la creme of comfort. - I got some good guys back there. I got one of the best Marine guys in Nashville. My guys back there, they're awesome. So they take a lot of heat off of me. - [Ed] And Chris Wells needs a lot of heat taken off of him because he's got Scotty's right-hand man, the kitchen manager. Chris not only stands the heat, he brings the heat as comfort food king. - I actually learned how to cook from my mother. - [Ed] Do you see a pattern here? - And a lot of the stuff that we do here are just stuff that I grew up with and we've been doing it, and I've been doing it a long time. We've kind of got it down pat. And we had to tweak it a little bit, but it's kind of brings back memories for a lot of people and what they grew up with, it's kind of hard to find that. You know, we were getting more health conscious and things like that so the old, old style of cooking is sometimes, it's hard to find and that's what we do. The old style of cooking. - [Ed] And doggone it, sometimes old style is the best style. But don't get us wrong, we love beansprouts, kale and tofu as much as the next guy but sometimes you need to do more than fill your tummy. You need to soothe your soul and just listening to the menu will be enough for some. - We pretty much offer anything you would like to eat from our famous catfish. - [Man] Chicken salad, chili. - [Woman] I'm personally obsessed with the BLT salad. - [Man] Hamburger steak. - [Scotty] Pot roast, meatloaf, lot of veggies. - [Tamyra] I'm always about okra. - Everything is made from scratch. And then we have our famous desserts, meringue pies. - So if it's Southern it's here most of the time. - [Diner] This looks good. - [Ed] Woo, I think I need a nap already. - We cover a lot on the menu so it's a lot of choices and all of them pretty good. They really tried to do everything well. And we try to present things that you, you know, you like and it looks good and tastes good. - It's a friendly place, it's Southern cooking. It's what's local to Nolensville, obviously it's not a chain. It gives you an opportunity to have the kind of food you might have at home. - [Ed] Maybe even better than the food you have at home with a few benefits, no cooking, no cleaning and plenty of Southern hospitality. - All right. - When you travel to Northwest Tennessee, you'll find rich river bottom land that supports the mostly agricultural community and like nearby a Reelfoot Lake being formed by an earthquake, a well-known local businessman has kind of shaking up the area by a reshaping the landscape. Let's let Ken Wilshire explain. - [Man] Five, four, three, two, one, go for system launch. - [Ken] Just imagine blasting off into space on a galactic mission and learning about flight, physics and astronomy. - [Woman] The first leg of your journey is to the sun. - [Ken] Or pretend you're on an archeological journey back in time only to discover those skeletal remains of prehistoric animals. Well, these adventures are just a few of the fascinating learning experiences young and old alike can find at Discovery Park of America, Union City, Tennessee. And no, this towering structure isn't a mirage. It's an alluring oasis of knowledge and fun that's risen out of 50 acres of old cotton fields in Obion County. - We have a master plan to tell what we had year after year. - [Ken] Discovery Park CEO, Jim Rippy says the park is the vision and creation of businessmen, Robert Kirkland, who was born and raised in Union City. - The vision is to educate people about a lot of different ideas, a lot of different themes, a lot of different thoughts and hopefully they would someday say, well maybe I'd like to be an astronaut or I'd like to be a geologist. - [Ken] And the way they do it is simple, it's education by exposing all one's senses to the learning process. - Woo. - This snake is cool. - Lots of hands-on, in fact, we do as many things as we can to let people touch, feel. We even have signs in the grass says, walk on our grass. You know, we don't call ourselves a museum exactly. 'Cause we want people to touch and feel, and be in contact. It's more of a learning experience to be able to touch things. You can look around here and see, you can touch about anything here. - Okay, come on, let's go first. - [Ed] Class actually begins when you arrive. Visitors can study the architectural curves and geometric shapes of the main building. They're quick to learn that it's not only designed to be visually pleasing but to set up positive creative environment for a new kind of schooling. - [Jim] The main center here is 100,000 square feet with a 70,000 square feet of exhibits. So our goal is to make the grounds just as attractive as the buildings. - [Ed] And once inside, young minds are exposed to an electric atmosphere where all the galleries are like huge classrooms. These discovery students are taught to grasp new ideas and are graded only by the smiles on their faces. - [Mary] He decided why not build it right here in my own backyard. And so it's really a gift to the people of this area. - [Ed] According to Discovery Park, marketing director Mary Bondurant, it's a welcome addition to this part of the state. - It is truly amazing that we have Discovery Park of America in rural Northwest Tennessee but it is an educational venue but it's a lot of fun and very interactive and hands-on and there's really no place else like it. I'll just stop and ask kids, you know, what do you think about Discovery Park of America? I love it and then I'll say, what's your favorite gallery? And it's amazing, some of them say military, some of them say they love the slide, some of them say they liked star ship, they liked the earthquake simulator, they like going outside. I mean, it's just like, there's something that appeals to just about every personality. - Well, these young personalities were on a military mission when I hitched a ride back in time. Where are you driving? Where are you going to take me in this jeep? - We're going to Vietnam. - [Ed] Now how or why would six to 10 year olds know about Vietnam. Well they had to learn about it somewhere and my guess is right here. - We have a full-time education director. She actually goes out and calls on schools and principals and superintendents and we solicit field trips. And when they come, we have developed lessons for every grade, K through 12 that go hand in hand with the state standards. So every student field trip that comes here has an opportunity to have a lesson while they're here that goes along with what they're supposed to be learning in that grade at that time. - Is this a submarine? - [Ed] And as you can see, you'll find everything from A to Z. Well that's agriculture to zoology and hundreds of subjects in between. - [Narrator] There was a great shake this morning. - [Ed] It's ironic until now Reelfoot Lake has been the main attraction to this part of the stage. Visitors to Discovery Park can actually experience an earthquake like the one that created the lake. - [Jim] Thanks to photography and earthquake simulator and the story it tells of the new bedrock fault. That's my single favorite thing. We had a guy who was in the car business years ago with my father, I liked the transportation exhibit, but the military exhibit is extremely good. I mean, it goes from civil war all the way to Afghanistan and it's a huge exhibit. They're all good, there's not a bad one here. - [Ed] The park is dynamic and ever-changing. It's so much more than entertainment. It's a venue for meetings, weddings, and concerts. What you see now is just the beginning. - [Mary] When Robert Kirkland built Discovery Park of America, he also funded us for 20 years but the plans are already made for more development on the grounds. We have done straw polls to find out what the community wants. They want a tavern, they want an opera house. They want a natural playground for children and all those things are in the future plans. - [Ed] Well, after an incredibly successful career, Robert and Jenny Kirkland have put Northwest Tennessee on the map in grand style, but even more, they hope their investment in Discovery Park will help preserve our past, provide a magical adventure for the present, and pay huge dividends for our future. - Well, it's time to big you adieu, but not before a reminder of our website, TennesseeCrossroads.org. You can follow us on Facebook of course and by all means, join us here next time. See you then.
May 06, 2021
Season 34 | Episode 37
This time on Tennessee Crossroads, Miranda Cohen does the twist at the Nashville Soft Pretzel Company. We visit Mistletoe Farm in Franklin. Ed Jones indulges in good old comfort food at Southern Hospitality Diner in Nolensville. Ken Wilshire travels to Northwest Tennessee to find out how a local businessman shaped his legacy by reshaping the landscape. Presented by Nashville Public Television.