- Published by Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee conservationist magazine features articles on native species, culture, and history. Connecting readers with Tennessee's natural resources and recreational activities. More information at tnconservationist.org. - This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we go to Shelbyville to explore a fire chief's legacy at the Garland King Museum, then meet a father-daughter team of chocolate makers, we'll meet a Lewisburg creator of artistic fire pits, and wind up at a music city barbecue haven, Peg Leg Porker. That's the lineup for this edition of Tennessee crossroads, I'm Joe Elmore, welcome. It was nearly 30 years ago that I met Garland King. He was Shelbyville's well-respected fire chief for most of his life, but he was also fairly famous for his one of a kind museum, a place that he crammed with artifacts he personally acquired. The collection reflected the history of the town he dearly loved. Well, this is the story of how Chief King's dream lives on thanks to the dedication of a second generation. It was 1992 when I paid a visit to Garland King, the Shelby county fire chief whose career would span nearly a half century. I've been with the fire department since 1959, I've been chief since 1969. Oh, I guess I like the people better than anything, dealing with people, there were a lot of people and I enjoy that very much. - [Joe] And while fighting fires was his profession, his obsession was collecting just about anything and everything imaginable. A self-proclaimed pack rat, Chief King's museum was a tribute to the people and the town he truly cared for. Unfortunately, Chief King passed away in 2013. However, his memory lives on and King's museum is now bigger and better, all thanks to Gary, his son. - He was wonderful at figuring out, you know, how to keep this stuff. - [Joe] Stuff like all kinds of antique toys, photographs and historical documents, and tools for everything from car repair to old time dentistry. - A lot of stuff was given to him, but I think he was always just on the hunt and every build and not ever buy. My dad said, "You're gonna use that building." And then I'd go, "No, dad." He had lots more stuff, he just didn't have anywhere to put it. - [Joe] Chief King was also a consummate car guy. - This was really interesting. This still got the plastic on the seats. - Oh yeah. - Yeah, all original. And my dad carried this one to the Super Bowl for General Motors and this is a AACA car. This has been kind of our pride of what we got. - For good reason too, that's a beauty. - Yes. - [Joe] His car collection spans about six decades. - He could take something apart and put it back together, restore it, and make it like it was. Really amazing that he had that ability to do that. - [Joe] King's museum contains such oddities as the world's longest pencil, 1091 and nine inches to be exact, a player piano once owned by Wayne Newton's mother, and a used casket owned by, well, we're not sure. Where did that come from? - I have no idea. It was funny to hear him talk about it, but yeah, there's nothing gone. - [Joe] Garland King had an ability to sniff out locations of uncanny collectibles, or like this old trailer once owned by an itinerate home builder. - I mean, it was just covered and in a building that was falling down, there's an article about it up there, but I really think that's really a neat thing that that man, everything that he did where he'd go down south during the winter and build homes and then he'd come back up this way, I guess, as it got real hot down there and... - [Joe] So he lived in that thing alone? - Yes, he did. - [Joe] This room is like a museum within a museum, full of artifacts related to firefighting, including several retired trucks. Now this heavily autograph truck served as a traveling petition to establish a state firefighting academy. - [Gary] They took this old truck, this old Mack in here and they restored this truck and carried it to every county in the state of Tennessee, it went to every fire department, and every firefighter signed it. - [Joe] Needless to say, the state got its training center and the petition truck got a permanent home. - And it just was something I am really proud that we've got that we'll always be here and it's really interesting to go walk around it and look. - [Joe] Actually, this building holds only a portion of the chief's lifetime collection. So Gary decided to purchase the Old Central School Building as a future home for the museum. - It's such a grand old building and we're so proud that we were able to acquire that and just be able to kind of restore it back to where it was. - [Joe] It'll be a fitting tribute to a proud, caring citizen, dedicated fire chief, and guardian of countless local artifacts. - Everything is here like it was and my lifetime it'll stay that same way and I hope my son will carry it on and my daughter. And he really believed in Shelbyville. - The famous cartoonist, Charles Schulz, once said, "All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." Well, most of us would agree. So for our next story, Miranda Cohen takes us to a place where you can find both. We'll meet a fun-loving father and daughter duo who are putting an artistic touch on an old favorite. - I'm the Poppy of the Poppy and Peep. - I'm Peep of Poppy and Peep. - [Miranda] And now you know the faces behind Poppy and Peep. For father and daughter, Mark and Evane Stoner, chocolate has always been a family tradition. - We love sweets and we, growing up, I always went to candy shops and chocolate shops with my dad and that was like our favorite pastime so we wanted to create a business around that. - [Miranda] So it seemed like the perfect recipe when they decided to open a gourmet chocolate shop called Poppy and Peep. At a trade show for another business, Mark Stoner noticed it was the chocolate booth that was getting all the attention and with one phone call, his confectionary business was born. - I called Evane from the show. I said, "Hey, do you wanna get in the chocolate business?" And she said, "Sure." - Chocolate's unique, it's fun, it's dynamic and I think people just love sweets like we do and so we wanted that to be our thing. - [Miranda] After testing markets and recipes, Stoner's entrepreneurial instincts kicked in. - I said, "We're either getting out of the chocolate business or getting all the way into it." - [Miranda] Getting all in, meant studying at some of the finest chocolate schools in the country, listening to experienced mentors, and finding the perfect balance of flavors and textures. - I have a really artistic background and my dad has a pretty business-ey background and so I think that we were thinking, okay, we're willing to the risk and try to make all that work. - Located in the Wedgewood-Houston area of Nashville, this small shop is serving up some huge flavors almost too beautiful to eat. One of the most popular items here at Poppy and Peep is no doubt, their delicious bonbons. Now, bonbon is French for "good, good", the perfect name, right? And a batch of bonbons like these are labor intensive. They will take about two days to make. - There's a lot of work, you know, there's a lot of work in this little piece of chocolate. It's very unique, it's why you can't just go buy them anywhere. - [Miranda] Each delicate bonbon is created upside down and they are truly edible art. - When you see a bonbon out, you know, when it's done, so the first thing you see on the outside is on the top, she's painting that, it's a little bite of something very special. So in this case, we fill it with a lemon ganache. - [Miranda] As beautiful as they are to look at, they pack even more unique flavor. Everything from traditional favorites to espresso, passion fruit, sea salt, matcha, bourbon, pine nut, and much more. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, Poppy and Peep are one of the only chocolate shops that create bean to bar onsite. - It's called bean to bar chocolate where you take it all the way from the beans, all the way to the bar, you see over there on the shelf. It's the most labor intensive way to do it. - [Miranda] And Poppy and Peep wouldn't do it any other way. They import the finest beans from all over the world. - Chocolate is pretty unique in it's similar to wine where all of the different origins are pretty unique to where they're grown. And so some are grown near bananas and some are grown in like fruity tropical areas and some are grown in kind of more of a savory or vanilla area and so we kinda wanted to make our origins that we were carrying pretty different and diverse. We sort the beans out, we put them through a cocoa test cut chart, and we look for the fermentation, then we put them in the bins, and then we roast the beans, crack them, winnow them, and then we do a grinding process. - [Miranda] What's left are nibs and husks, which must be sorted by hand and there is zero waste. The husks will be made into fragrant mulch, then the nibs will go through an 18 hour process to become rich decadent chocolate. - [Evane] Some people who just like sweet treats that this is your go-to stop. Someone likes, you know, something more dynamic, like spicy, we have a Szechuan & Thai chili bar. - [Mark] She has a lot to do with the flavors and the colors and what it looks like. - [Evane] So I'm always trying to make things more unique and he's like, let's stick to the basics. It's a cool concept when we can work together and find different ones that we like. - [Miranda] And at the end of the day, Poppy and Peep are reaping the sweet rewards of working in chocolate and more importantly, working together. - [Mark] And it is neat. I think the story, you know, the father and daughter part of what we are trying to do and the fact that it's really, really good. - You don't live forever and so having this time to like work together as an adult and to really work through all the kinks and the processes, it's been super fun to kind of get to know my dad on a business level and not just like as a dad. - Well, I think that obviously can be the hardest part and the best part and we are very similar. We have some of the same strengths and same weaknesses. It takes a lot to work with, you know, your family, but also it can be the greatest reward. - Thank you so much. - You're welcome. - I hope to see you all soon. - Thanks Miranda. Since the dawn of time, folks have enjoyed sitting around a fire. With the advent of central heat though, it's become less about survival and more about special occasions with friends and family. Well, Ed Jones found an artist in Lewisburg who has a talent for making those evenings around the fire very special indeed. - I could never build two exactly alike. It takes a while, but every piece is one of a kind. Hand drawn, hand cut, manmade. - [Ed] Manmade by this man, David Mann. What's Mann making? Well, despite its appearance, it has nothing to do with the Manhattan Project, but it does involve fire. The kind of fire that families and friends have huddled around for as long as there have been families and friends. - Whether you make minimum wage or a million dollars a year, everybody enjoys a fire. - [Ed] And what better way to enjoy that warmth and beauty than by making it a work of art? This is the story of a humble welder who became an artist and wound up in the pits, fire pits. - I was brought up in the forestry industry, always worked with metal. Okay, that's good. Learned to weld when, I'd say around the age of 14. I got to thinking I wanted to build something. I started with fire pits and nothing like what I'm building now, it didn't start out to be that, and it kind of just developed. Basically, I had nine months it took me to teach myself how to do what I'm doing. So finally, I got to the point to where I thought my work was good enough. - [Ed] Good enough is a bit of an understatement. Some of David's designs are out of this world, literally. - I'm not quite a Star Wars fan as what you would think after seeing that Death Star. I have a lot of Star Wars fans that everybody was like, "Hey, you need to build a Death Star. You need to build a Death Star." And I didn't realize there was as many Star Wars fans as there are. Basically, one day, I was like, "Okay, let's build a Death Star." And the Death Star that I have, that's the first one and the only one I've built. And I built it knowing I didn't have a customer for it, but I was like, "Somebody's gonna buy this thing." Took me about 38 hours. That's a hard 38 hours, a busy 38 hours, to knock it out. But it turned out really nice and I've had a lot of interest in it everywhere I go. But yeah, that's one of my favorite pieces is my Death Star. - [Ed] Not into galaxies far, far away? Never fear, just tell Dave what you want on your custom sphere. - We can build anything. Basically, anybody tell me what they want and I come up with anything. I have a Nashville themed fire pit that I designed, it's two guitars, I actually cut the guitar strings out, got the Nashville skyline in the background, Music City. I guess the most unusual or the most detailed, I guess I should say, would be the one I'm fixing to build. That for customers and they wanna friends and family theme so what we're going to do is build two tree of lifes in the tree top of the two trees, we're going to draw out the names of the family and in the tree tops and a lot more, put some sayings in it. It's gonna be very, very detailed, the biggest and most detailed fire pit I've ever built. - [Ed] Of course, more detailed means more hours in the shop, sometimes weeks on a single project. Then comes everyone's favorite part of the process. - One, two, three. Low and easy. - Awesome. - It's beautiful! - [David] These fire pits are built to last a lifetime and that's why we try to incorporate memories from the past and I give a lifetime warranty because it is a heirloom piece. - [Woman] It's gorgeous. - Isn't that something? - And I look at the saying we've got there. "Old wood, best to burn, old wine, to drink, and friends to trust, and family to love." - [John] Yeah, right. - Thank you, thank you so much. - You're welcome. - Thank you so much, man. - Yeah, man. - It's beautiful! - [Ed] Proud new pit owner, John Chessari, was more than a little pleased with the finished product. - The roots of the tree signifies to me the strength of a family, the bigger the roots, the better the family and he depicted it in the best way I know. Friends and family are, to me, are just the same, friends and family and I treat all my friends as if they're my family and that's why this is so important to me. And hopefully we'll have a lot of fires to burn together. He just made me happy, and better than me, he made my wife happy. And that's all, the wife's happy, the world's happy. And that's something. You gotta be proud, Mama. - [Woman] Oh I am proud of it. - [John] I'll tell you what, that is utterly amazing. - [David] I don't know what the next few years are gonna bring. I wouldn't never guess that I'd be sitting here with you today talking about my fire pits, but it is very rewarding and I'm pretty excited about the future. I feel like it's gonna be big and I'm gonna be sharpening my skills and enjoying it. And that's what it's all about. - [Woman] We will always cherish it. Thank you so much. - [David] You're welcome. - Thanks a lot Ed. Other than politics and football, the most controversial topic of discussion among Tennesseean could, well, easily be barbecue. Some like dry rub, some like sauce, but there's a little argument that Carey Bringle produces some of the best. Rob Wilds caught up with Carey at his Nashville restaurants, Peg Leg Porker. - [Rob] Another busy day at the Peg Leg Porker in Nashville. What else is new? Things are so busy here that the staff is busier than well, a three legged pig trying to jump on a pogo stick! - Cade, your order is up along with a hot fried pie. - [Rob] Owner Carey Bringle can relate to the way that three legged pig feels. - I'm an above the knee, right leg amputee. I lost my leg to bone cancer when I was 17. It was the summer before my senior year in high school. You know, you can do a couple of things when that happens, you can sit around and mope about having cancer or losing your leg or you can put up a big fight and you can move forward and do something with it. - [Rob] And what he did was create the Peg Leg Porker where he and his crew cook barbecue. - Oh yeah. Looking good! - [Rob] Good and traditionally Tennesseean. - It was originated by the Rendezvous in Memphis, Charlie Vergo's, they char-broil their ribs and then put a dry seasoning on them. And what we do is we smoke our ribs and we put nothing on them except for kosher salt and then it's a dry seasoning that goes on right before that rib hits your plate. So it's not a rub, it's a seasoning. And that's a true signature Tennessee dish. - [Rob] Tennessee's barbecue tradition does not include brisket and neither does the Peg Leg Porker's menu. - When I was growing up in Tennessee, nobody served brisket. They'd tell you two things, they'd say, "That's steak for one." And two, "Go to Texas." We chose to stick with the barbecue of my youth and the barbecue that I grew up with and that's typically everybody's favorite barbecue is what you grew up with. We chose to stay with traditional Tennessee barbecue, which is pork and chicken, and so our specialty is dry ribs, and then we serve a half a chicken, and then pulled pork. We'll leave the brisket to the Texans. - [Rob] Another thing you won't find here is traditional kid food. To Carey, barbecue is kid food. - Sometimes we've had people ask, "Well, what is my child gonna eat?" And we say, "A smaller barbecue sandwich." If you want to pass on your love for barbecue to your children, the way that it was passed on to me was that we ate barbecue. A rib bones the best teether you're ever gonna get. All three of my children cut their teeth on them. We'd try and stick with the barbecue. That's what we think we do best. - [Rob] Which suits pit master and general manager, Steve Dresch, just fine. - We got a really good rub, it's got 16 different spices in it and we cook ours low and slow. So we get about 16 hours out of our butts, which gives it fat plenty of time to render through and keeps a very moist piece of barbecue. - [Rob] No brisket though, huh? - [Steve] Nah, we just do Tennessee barbecue up here. - [Rob] This is Tennessee after all. - Yeah, and we're not afraid cook a brisket, but we just sticking to our roots. - [Rob] That Carey, he's a fun loving guy and a bit of a showman. - [Carey] Luke, I'm not your father. - [Rob] But he's sentimental too about barbecue, about family. Just look at the photos on the wall. - There's one, that's my favorite photo of me and my father in a hammock at our lake house on Pickwick Lake. We've got a picture of our family's old cotton gin from 1897 in Tipton Country and Covington, Tennessee, the Bringle gin and that's a part of our history and part of our family. I've got a picture of my great uncle, Floyd, my grandfather's younger brother who retired a four-star Admiral and was a true war hero. - [Rob] And then there's a photo of his grandfather, Dr. Carey Bringle from World War II. - Yeah, right here is my grandfather, who was a Naval officer in World War II. - Uh-huh. - And this is on the island of Hạ Long on the Pacific front. And you can see the Quonset huts in the background for the troops and here in the forefront, you see some of the troops along with the natives, cooking whole hogs in banana leaves in the ground for a meal for the troops. - That's a barbecue man who'll stop in the middle of the Japanese bombing and strafing. - Nobody can say I didn't come from it naturally, I guess, so. - [Rob] That feeling of tradition, that's one of the things Carey wants everyone who comes to the Peg Leg Porker to feel. - We want people the feel like they're at home. All the pictures around the restaurant are all my family, it's all our story, there's nothing in here that's not a part of who we are. A lot of barbecue places are evolving into, you know, multiple units or building out around the southeast or around the country. We've chosen to stick with one place and make it our family place, welcome you into our home. And so we feel like when you come to the Peg Leg Porker, your experience ought to be that you feel like you're part of our family. That ought to be reflected in our food as well as the atmosphere. - [Rob] Great atmosphere, great food, but no brisket! Just traditional Tennessee barbecue, Peg Leg Porker style. - Well, that's about it for this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. Before we go, I wanna remind you, again, about our website, TennesseeCrossroads.org. You can follow us on Facebook and by all means, join us right here next week. See you then. - Published by Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee conservationist magazine features articles on native species, culture, and history, connecting readers with Tennessee's natural resources and recreational activities. More information at tnconservationist.org.
July 15, 2021
Season 35 | Episode 03
This week on Tennessee Crossroads, Joe Elmore explores a fire chief’s legacy at the Garland King Museum. Miranda Cohen meets a father and daughter team of chocolate makers. Ed Jones visits a Lewisburg creator of artistic fire pits. And Rob Wilds samples the barbecue at Peg Leg Porker. Presented by Nashville Public Television.