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- This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we take you to a natural getaway on the banks of Tennessee's only natural lake, then meet a Knoxville craftsman who creates culinary art, and finally follow our noses to a bakery called Yeast Nashville. Hi everybody, I'm Joe Elmore, welcome again to Tennessee Crossroads. During the years 1811 and 1812, violent earthquakes caused the Mississippi River to run backward. The result at Northwest Tennessee was the formation of Reelfoot Lake. Now a natural paradise for hunting, fishing, or just a relaxing scenic getaway. We found it all at a family owned jewel on the lake called Blue Bank Resort. It's Tennessee's only natural lake, an 18,000 acre wildlife wonderland, home to more than 300 species of rare or endangered plants and animals. Reelfoot Lake is a paradise for outdoor lovers and whether they come to hunt fish or bird watch, people often settle in here at Blue Bank Resort. - One of the most fun things to see is multiple generations coming back over again. So it's real fun just to see how much fishing is involved in a family. - [Elmore] That's Drew Hayes, a fifth generation family member to host travelers here at this Reelfoot resort. His great great grandmother built the area's first hotel back in the early 1920s. This resort dates back to 1959. Owners Mike and Kathy Hayes gladly welcomed both serious anglers and a newer breed of resort fishermen. - They fish a couple hours and hire a guide. The Gold Discovery Park, they bring their wives and kids. It's a whole new fisherman and I think if you don't change the fact, you're not gonna make it in this business. - But we still take care of our hardcore fishermen. We will make sure they have a good time and they'll come when it's cold, when it's rainy, they're here, 'cause they wanna fish. - [Elmore] Enjoying nature doesn't necessarily imply roughing it. Guests have their choice of accommodations that include all the usual amenities and more. From a swimming pool and hot tub, to this. It's a beautifully landscaped butterfly garden where you can take a walk and work up an appetite for lunch or dinner at the Blue Bank Grill. - [Kathy] Of course you know we're gonna have fish, but not only do we have fish, we have like red fish New Orleans and then we have our bang bang shrimp, we have burgers, we had salads. Anything you could like we probably got on the menu. - [Elmore] Of course the main event is this beautiful, mysterious lake. Part open water and part bayou, the average depth is only about five and a half feet with a maximum depth of about 18. - It was a swamp before hand and then all the trees and unwashed structure show out there, which makes it where you wanna make sure you're not going too fast across most of the lake unless you know where you're going. - [Elmore] A lot of stumps. - A lot of stumps. - [Elmore] So while you won't find any skiing on Reelfoot, the lake's shallow cypress fueled water is one of the world's greatest natural hatcheries for fish. Well here on a beautiful crisp West Tennessee morning, it's time to sample some of that Reelfoot Lake magic myself. And while my fishing skills are meager at best, I'm lucky enough to have one of the best guides in the business, Billy Blakely. - [Billy] I've been doing it with the Hayes family there for 39 years. - [Elmore] 39 years. - Since ninth grade in high school. I mean you get in high school and of course all you wanna do is play around, so my playing around was on this lake, hunting and fishing. So I just kept playing and kept playing and kept playing and I'm still playing. So I'm doing pretty good with it. - [Elmore] Billy's become quite the celebrity here on the lake and obviously loves his so-called job. - It's a different adventure every day, you meet so many different people from all over the United States and other places too, but it's a pretty thrilling job. - [Elmore] Billy guides us through a canal surrounded by saw grass, basically the same stuff you find in the Everglades and then toward a small outcropping of trees inhabited by a group of carmorants. According to Billy that's a good sign some catfish are waiting below. - That caught going under you've got your teaser. - [Elmore] Billy's instincts were right on the money. - [Billy] You got it. - I got it. - Yeah, that's a good one, not a bad one. Whoop, they're gonna get me eaten. - He's trying to. - Come here, let me put you back in there. - Then they're back home. - They're gonna let me eat, come on Joe. I'd rather watch your bucket filling than me catching. And believe me I love catching fish. In a day my caught goes under that. I get excited, I don't care for my caught, your caught or whose caught. Oh, you got a new, I gotta catch this. - [Elmore] Oh, you got two. - [Billy] Whoop. - They ain't on their own when they meant all for us. - Well, that's fun, man. - [Billy] Yeah, it is. - [Elmore] And what a way to wind up our visit. Small wonder folks come back year after year to renew friendships with the owners and staff, to hunt or fish with some of the best guides in the business and to marvel at the many wonders of this natural Tennessee attraction. - [Billy] You got everything on this lake. - That was a fun story. Well, now I'm joined again by Nashville Public Television President and CEO, Becky Magura, as we celebrate Tennessee Crossroads and ask for your support for this show and everything you love from NPT. - That's right, we're here at week two of our campaign to Keep Crossroads Travlin! in 2022. And we need you to make it happen. And as a reminder, if we can get to 400 donations at any level, we'll keep Crossroads on the air during NPT's March membership drive. We're off to a good start but we have a ways to go to hit our goal of 400 contributions. But I know we can get there with your support. This is the time for you to put a value on your love for Tennessee Crossroads and help Joe and the crew capture stories of Tennessee's best places to experience the culture of our great state. Call the number on your screen or pledge anytime online at tennesseecrossroads.org/donate to help us reach our goal. - We know we have the best fans and loyal viewers and we are proud to bring you Tennessee Crossroads each week. This show has been a staple of Nashville Public Television for 35 years. I have no doubt we can get to that goal of 400 contributions but we need to hear from you. Call the number on your screen or like Becky said, visit us online at tennesseecrossroads.org/donate to pitch in. And while you're there, well, check out the ways we have to say thank you for your pledge of support. You can help Keep Crossroads Travlin! with a financial gift that's just right for you. Donate at any amount and you receive a Tennessee Crossroads Official Traveler sticker. At $60 a year or $5 per month, we'll thank you with a Tennessee Crossroads baseball cap. At the $72 level or $6 a month, you can show your support and Keep Crossroads Travlin! with this polyester blend short sleeve t-shirt. And for a true taste of Crossroads, we'll be happy to send you a bag of Bongo Java Rambler blend coffee for $96 or $8 a month. Thanks for keeping Crossroads Travlin! - I hope you'll pick an amount that's for you and pitch in. 2021 had its share of challenges but we have worked hard to keep great stories coming your way. And it takes a team, including our loyal viewers to get the job done. Joe isn't the only talented storyteller on our roster, right Joe? - That's right, Becky. Our friend Miranda Cohen came on board a couple of years ago. And in this clip she shares her feelings about some of the stories she's done so far. - One of the things that I have been really touched by are a couple of the restaurant tours that we have made this past year because I've read on two different occasions on social media, and it had nothing to do with the story, but the people were both offering to take food to people that needed it, to get food to people that needed it. If you were shut in, they were just people that wanted to make a difference in their community. And I thought, "You know what? That is exactly the kind of people that Tennessee Crossroads seeks out, finds and wants to introduce to you." So anybody that watches Tennessee Crossroads, I would just like to say to them thank you because you are the other member of the Tennessee Crossroads team. We appreciate you watching, we appreciate you being part of our crew and I'm very honored to be a part of it. - Miranda, we're honored to have you on board but we're also honored to include you, our loyal viewers on our team. With your support, we are able to send Crossroads producers like Miranda and Joe across the highways and byways of Tennessee to bring you great places to visit, things to do. Help us keep the stories coming in 2022. As a reminder, we hope to hear from 400 viewers just like you so we can Keep Crossroads Travlin! You can help us get there with your contribution to NPT at any amount. - I hope you'll take this moment to make a pledge and help us reach that mark of 400 donations to Keep Crossroads Travlin! throughout this year. Call the number on your screen or pledge online at tennesseecrossroads.org/donate. Oh, and don't forget about our NPT Day event at Jackalope Brewery Company on Sunday, February 20th, from noon to three o'clock, there'll be a lot of fun. - You know, as a huge fan of Tennessee Crossroads, I'm excited to see where Crossroads takes us in 2022, with your support. I'm also really looking forward to seeing where we're going right now, Joe. - Well, we're headed to Knoxville where Miranda Cohen found a true master craftsman who makes exquisite works of culinary art. - [Miranda] John Phillips, the founder of Phillips Forged in Knoxville has always loved working with his hands. With a degree in fine arts from the University of Tennessee, he learned his passion was working with metal. As his natural talent grew larger, his works grew smaller. - I've always had a love for things that you can hold in your hand and you can look at and see the small details in. And so it felt really good to be able to take all the skills I learned from blacksmithing and from making big sculptures and big piece of furniture and just kind of shrink all that down and take all those details and just compress them into one object that you can hold your hand. - [Miranda] As an artist, John started funding his dreams by working as a line cook in the food industry and suddenly he had three real interests and found a way to forge them all together. - At a certain point, I decided that I wanted to combine the woodwork, the metal work, the love of food and make my own knife. And I had these chefs that work with me that would bring in these knife rolls with all these knives that they had collected through their careers. I thought it was so cool that they had these magic tools that they would come an unveil and they would never let anyone else touch. - [Miranda] Now celebrity chefs and culinary stars from places like the exclusive Blackberry Farm are taking notice of him using his blades in their kitchens and featuring his knives in their catalog. - So I make big chef's knives that are traditional, rolled belly knives, I make long slicing knives, I make bread knives with serrated edges, I make pairing knives, I make meat cleavers. - [Miranda] Each one of Phillip's edgy creations is a masterpiece of style and function. He has perfected the meticulous craft of forging the finest steel into precise blades and carving native wood into ergonomically designed handles. Phillip starts each night with roll steel cut on a band saw. - Next thing we do is we take all those pieces of metal and we clean them up and stack them together in the vice. - [Miranda] Each metal brings its own metallurgical content. - So I will just put this in and let it cool. - [Miranda] Then he will place the steel in this custom designed machine where 84,000 pounds of pressure on this hydraulic press at 2000 degrees will weld the metals together. - So we we just keep on reducing it down to about an eighth of an inch. - [Miranda] Next is hammering, grinding and dipping into an acid to reveal the mixed metals natural beauty. - You see that pattern already starting to pop out there. Those layers are starting to pop out. - [Miranda] Then will come sanding, sharpening and adding the custom made wooden handle. - All the handles I make from special pieces of wood, where I select special woods that have beautiful burls or spalting which is a fungus that can form in the wood that creates really beautiful patterns. So I try to always find woods that are gonna compliment the steel that they're going along with. - Each knife will take anywhere from 10 to 40 hours to create and no two pieces are ever alike. One of the most important things to John is that his beautiful works of art not be hidden away or put in a drawer. In fact, he would love for them to be used in the kitchen every day. - Usually the first thing that people tell me is that they're too beautiful to use, which I take as a compliment, but I hope that people do use them as much as possible. Most of the knives that I make are a combination of European style and Japanese style. And I'm pretty much making knife to take care of any chore in the kitchen. - [Miranda] Guided by the master's hand the metal and wood come together to create something much more than a culinary tool. It is said that steel sharpens steel, meaning people make other people better. John Phillips is trying to do just that. - So I specialize in just making culinary knives. I don't really have much interest in making weapons or making anything used for destruction. Instead to me knives are things that can create beautiful works of art. I'm more interested in creating a piece of art to create more art and to kind of keep this cycle of inspiration going. - [Miranda] A true passion creating unique custom-made culinary tools that will carve out their own legacy. - It's a lot of work, like I don't hide the fact that I really sweat and bleed over these things, but I really love it and really enjoy it. And there's something really rewarding about like all the process and all the small steps. And then at the end you have this thing that's gonna outlast all of us. - Nothing brings back fond memories like the sweet smell of something baking in the oven. It can take you back to those family gatherings as a kid when you stuffed yourself with your favorite foods. Well, Ed Jones found an East Nashville bakery that will put you right back in grandma's kitchen, especially if, well, like him, you come from the Lone Star State. - [Sara] There's the strawberry kolache. - I don't know what kolache is. - [Sara] When we first opened I bet you at least 50% of the people that came in had no idea what they were. - I had no idea what a kolache was coming in. - [Sara] At least 30% of the customers that come in every day, still no idea. - We live in Toronto, which has got a pretty eclectic food culture but I have never had or heard of a kolache before. - I didn't know when we opened that I would be teaching so many people what they were, it just didn't even hit me. - [Ed] Well, it finally did hit her and now Sara Way's Yeast Nashville Bakery gets hit every morning by hungry customers in search of the mysterious kolache, which was a mystery to Sara when she moved to Texas. - So I live in Houston for about 17 years. I had no idea what they were before I moved there. I grew up in Northern Michigan. It's an everyday staple there, they have them in gas stations, they have their own shops, you can get them wherever. And they're very easy to eat on the go. So in Houston, everybody's on the road so they're always eating kolaches I guess. - [Ed] So what is a kolache? - They're similar to a Danish, where they have a sweet filling and they're round. It's a sweeter dough than that, so it's a different texture. People still call them Danishes, they'll still say cream cheese Danish, we just go with it. - [Ed] As it turns out, that's just half of the story. The kolache originated in Czechoslovakia, but when the Czechs migrated to Texas, meat filled versions were born, which Sara calls the savory kolache. - All right, they get one more turn and then we'll be good to go. Every day we do a sausage and cheddar and a jalapeno sausage and cheddar kolache and then we do four different sweets, we do a blueberry cherry, cinnamon, apple and cream cheese, and then we'll have a special of the day for our kolache. Sometimes it's sweet, sometimes it's savory and it can be something like blackberry goat cheese or it may be one that we call cheeseburger and people are like, "What? Who wants a cheeseburger one for breakfast?" But once they try it, they're like, "Oh yeah." So it's nice because we can be more creative with the special ones but then we have the nice just normal ones that if people wanna just grab something they're familiar with, they can. - [Ed] Well, we've solved the mystery of the kolache, but how did Sara, the Michigander turned Texan, turned to Tennesseean, turn up in a bakery? - I just missed them so much that I started trying to make them at home. You can't make them just in a small batch, so I would share them with friends and they're like, "You should sell these." And I was like, "Ha ha, whatever." And when they wanted to move my position back to Houston, and I was like, "No way, am I going back there? I'm staying here, this is awesome." So I was like, "Well, I guess I'm gonna try it." - [Ed] Much to the delight of her customers. - I come to Yeast Nashville almost every single day. - So delicious, the best kolaches I've ever had. - [Sara] We have some that come every Monday through Friday, we have some that come Saturdays and Sundays to spend a work schedule. And it's great because now I'll run into them all over the city, I'll run into different people all the time and I love it, I love it. So yeah, it's more friends than customer. - [Ed] And Yeast Nashville has more to satisfy those friends than just kolaches. Hey Thomas, would you like to talk to us, Sir? Like shy but hungry Thomas' favorite. - Cinnamon rolls. - [Thomas' mum] Cinnamon rolls, absolutely. - We do giant cinnamon rolls and then Wednesday through Sunday we do breakfast tacos. We also have what we call crustless quiche, which is always vegetarian and it's always gluten-free. So we have that one option every day for those that want that. This neighborhood is very good about mom and pap shops. They want everything local if they can get it. And they've been very good about making us what we are. Look at you, those look great, did you make those? - [Man] No. - The people in my staff are what has made this a success. I have a feeling that you're never gonna get yelled at. We don't really do that here. - [Ed] No, there's no yelling at Yeast Nashville. - [Sara] Taco. - [Ed] Well, not in anger anyway. Sweet and savory not only describes the kolaches, but the atmosphere as well. - [Woman] I just love the people here, they're so sweet, everybody's so friendly, a lot of love here. - [Sara] I want people to come in and feel like they're in grandma's kitchen. - Actually grew up with my grandmother making them, so this was nostalgic, just a great find. - And we've had a lot of people that say, "Oh my gosh, it smells like my grandma's kitchen in here." And I was like, "Yes, that's what I was hoping for." And we want everybody to feel welcome and very comfortable. We have people who have family coming into town or best friends coming into town, they're like, "Oh, we have to take them to Yeast." - [Ed] Yes, take it from shy Thomas' mother. - Get one of everything if you can. They're also different. Some mornings I feel sweet, some mornings I feel savory and they have everything I need. - Thanks, Ed and thank you folks for joining us, hope you had a good time. Now, please join us on our website when you get a chance, tennesseecrossroads.org, follow us on Facebook of course and please Keep Crossroads Travlin! Thank you.
January 27, 2022
Season 35 | Episode 25
Joe Elmore finds a great getaway on the banks of Tennessee’s only natural lake. Miranda Cohen meets a Knoxville craftsman who creates culinary art. And Ed Jones finds an East Nashville bakery that will put you right back in grandma's kitchen, especially if you hail from the Lone Star State.
Watch Clips from this Episode
Nothing brings back fond memories like the sweet smell of something delicious baking in the oven. It can take you back to those family gatherings as a kid when you stuffed yourself with your favorite food. Tennessee Crossroads found an East Nashville bakery that will put you right back in grandma's kitchen, especially if you hail from the Lone Star State. Watch this and more episode segments of Nashville Public Television's Tennessee Crossroads.