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- [Reporter] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by... - [Woman] This season there's something small that makes a big difference. Flu vaccines protect ourselves and others. Flu vaccines are available. Learn more at tn.gov/health/fightflu. - This time on Tennessee Crossroads, you'll meet our Nashville food expert who turns cheese into culinary art. Then after the Belle Meade mansion, and the Journey to Jubilee tour, we'll travel to Manchester, home of Clear Branch Woodworks, and finally a flashback to our journey, to a town named Nameless. And the name of this show is Tennessee Crossroads of course, I'm Joe Elmore. Sure, glad to have you. If you've been to any gathering in the past year or two, you've no doubt eaten off a charcuterie board. That's a fancy name for a meat and cheese plate. And as Laura Faber tells us, this 15th century culinary delicacy is new again. And she met an Nashville woman who turns it into art. - [Laura] Whatever you put on it. Most everyone loves a good meat and cheese board. - Aged cheddar. This is the number one cheese that I always recommend to put on, it's on every single one of our boards. - [Laura] Cured meats, quality cheeses, fruits, jams, and honey, crackers and breads, also known as vessels are a must with their layers, color and texture, charcuterie boards have become an art form. - I wanna show you how to make a salami flower. So this comes in the package like this. It's just flat. Is it gonna taste the same if we place it like this? Yes, but we're always trying to elevator plate and by folding it in half, folding again, you get these cute little salami flowers, easier for your guests to graze on and create some visual interest. And then we also have our prosciutto. Now we're gonna create prosciutto ribbons. Prosciutto can be a little tricky to work with. - [Laura] Social media has driven this massive foody trend, and a Nashville mom is riding the wave. Cortney LaCorte is the cheese gal. - These are called sweetie peppers, and these are so delicious. They're similar to like a peppadew. - The final, final step edible flowers. - Edible flowers - Which you're known for. - Yes, I just think, look how bright and gorgeous these look. These are violas. I like to do these seasonally as well. So as we go into fall, we'll have some really pretty marigolds, micro marigolds that are kind of the autumn colors, but this bright, beautiful, also edible. Here you go. - Oh. - Enjoy. - It's beautiful. Operating out of a space in the fair lane hotel, you can pick up a lunch size charcuterie box, like Catherine Mayo and her friends are doing. - I heard about her through Instagram. They're beautiful and apparently, they're as good as they look. I think it's reminiscent of a lunchable for adults. And so you get to do wine with it. I mean, who wouldn't love that? - [Laura] Up in the kitchen LaCorte and her staff, which includes her mom, Darcy, prepared daily plates, fill specialty orders, and handle their huge catering business. - [Darcy] The prep is what takes the longest, more than assembly. Our average tables, eight by two feet. So it's 16 square feet of cheese. It's a lot. And we of course make sure there are no empty spaces cause that's what we're known for, is having these elaborate layered cheese boards. The prep probably takes us three to four hours for an eight foot table, and then assembly about an hour and a half. - [Laura] Her grazing boards are gorgeous. The biggest one she's made was 16 feet long. Growing up in Dallas, Cortney would pretend to be a TV cook and hostess. Her godmother was the first to teach her how to make a proper meat and cheeseboard. - It's like it was very simple, but there was just something so visually, like beautiful about it. And obviously also tasted really good too. - [Laura] Married to country singer songwriter, Chris La Corte, and a mom of two living in Nashville, Cortney said she was the go-to girl who made charcuterie boards for her friends. - My husband came home from tour one day, I made a cheese plate for dinner and I just looked at him, I said, but somebody pay for this? And he was, that's brilliant, oh my gosh. - [Laura] In the middle of the pandemic, LaCorte started sharing pictures of her culinary creations on Instagram in this age of do it yourself, artisanal craft food. And the fact that charcuterie is just pretty, she began to grow. - It just caught on like wildfire. I wanna say, Holy Williams was a huge part in helping get the word out about me on Instagram. I had no idea. I thought I was like, oh, she White's Mercantile. I had no idea who her dad was. And she was so kind, she posted a picture of a cheeseboard that she bought from me on her like Instagram feed. I'll never forget when she did it. Not 30 minutes later, I'm getting like all of these country artist following me. All at one time. Just like Karen Fairchild and Kimberly from little big town. And oh my gosh, Lilly Aldrich. It just, it just all happened. And then they all ordered from me, and they're all still clients to this day. - [Laura] Today LaCorte is a bonafide influencer with a booming business. - Thank you. - [Laura] She's known for her layered and loaded boards packed with flavor. - What I'm mindful of when I'm picking out cheeses on the plate, I like to pick different milks. Not only do you get different textures by picking different milks, like this is cow's milk and I creamy, beautiful. This is sheep's milk. It's gonna be a little bit more tangy. And this is called lamb chopper, goat's milk. It's a hard cheese, similar to like a pecorino style Gouda, but made with goat's milk. - [Laura] Her charcuterie classes in person and online are popular. And LaCorte is not afraid to share her secrets. - I'm not threatened at all by anyone that does it really well, there's a seat for everybody at the table. I just love the experience of having people come in and we teach them, listen, it's just a step by step process. And by the end of it, I love seeing everyone's like own take on what they learned. - [Laura] Courtney's big dream is to have a show on the Food Network one day. But for now she's enjoying her beautiful and delicious journey. - I love the fact. And sometimes I get emotional when I talk about this, but I have two little girls. The fact that I can literally look at them in the eyes and say, you can do anything that you wanna do. That's the moment for me. That's like, wow, I really am doing this. I am making cheese boards for a living, right? I am teaching my hosting tips for a living like that is just such, it's such a dream. And I don't know that it'll ever truly sink in. - Thanks, Laura. Our next story takes us to the Belle Meade Mansion in Nashville, not to learn about the family who lived inside, but rather to hear stories of the enslaved families who lived in nearby cabins. In honor of black history month, Danielle Allen takes us on the journey to Jubilee tour. ♪ Sometime in the fire ♪ ♪ Sometime in the fire ♪ - Their stories are intertwined with the Belle Meade Plantation. This is where enslaved men, women, and children spent much of their lives. Now they can tell their side of the story. And it starts in 1807 in a cabin just like this. ♪ Fire ♪ So this is an example of some of the cabins that the slaves live in? - Yes, so this is called a Saddleback cabin. Saddleback meaning that you have two sides that are joined by a fireplace in the center. They're roughly 15 by 15 feet. You have anywhere from eight to 10 people living per side at a given time. So not a lot of space. - [Danielle] Brigette Jones is the former Director of African-American studies at the Belle Meade Plantation. Today, she's taking us on the Journey to Jubilee tour, a project that she helped create. - The Journey to Jubilee covers the African-American perspective from the enslaved perspective, all the way into post-emancipation and reconstruction. So Journey to Jubilee began just as a project that was later developed into a tour. So we try to make sure that we not only cover slavery and the horrors of slavery, but also what these individuals went on to do well on past emancipation and their descendants as well, as well as covering the numerous parallels between society then and society today. - [Danielle] Brigette starts the tour at the Carriage House. She talks about the Harding and Jackson families, who called this place home. She also explains why Belle Meade was not a typical plantation. - Most people tend to come to places like this and dive headfirst into cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, which I get, but none of those things were grown here. Belle Meade is unique, because it was a premier thoroughbred nursery and stud farm. So this was a horse raising plantation. So this plantation didn't raise regular race horses. They raised the best of the best race horses of the era. - [Danielle] Brigette explains the vital role that slavery played here. At one point there were 136 enslaved people. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of details about all of them. - We can tell you about the names for the horses over here, for sure. Then also we can tell you about how a stud farm runs over here. We can tell you about the hospitality of the Harding and Jackson family over there. We can tell you about different people that would've been here over time, but we can tell you all this interesting information and everything about every single horse, but I can't even tell you the names of the people that would've been caring for the horses that made the family of the money that they had. That's where stuff gets a little bit tricky. - [Danielle] Even with the missing details, the tour paints a vivid image of slavery. - We're looking at primary source documents, so that you'll see who you're talking about on paper. And then you're also gonna see their pictures. So now you can see, well, this is what they were doing and what they're listed as in 1865. Now let's talk about what their, what they look like around 1865 too. So we try to make it a really real experience. - [Danielle] That real life experience is also told inside the mansion. That's where you'll hear personal stories, like that of Susanna Carter, who was the head of domestic staff. Brigette spends close to 30 minutes talking about her life. - Well, she gave a first person interview in 1886 to an author. And I used that interview too. So this is what she said about slavery. Okay, but this is also some of the things that she was going through at that time. Can we trust this interview? And if we can trust it, what does that say about her psychological state at that time? So we just try to look at the interview from every angle. She said that freedom had been good for some, but that it was bad for others. Personal question, what does a person have to do to you generation after generation and year after year for you to become a grown woman, get married, have five children and believe it was better for you and your children to have been enslaved than to have your own freedom? - [Danielle] Brigette leads the tour through the Belle Meade mansion, covering 99 years of history along the way. Each room offers a different perspective and a new set of question. What happened before the silver war? Why did so many choose to stay after emancipation? These are all questions that Brigette tries to answer. - But we teach that emancipation happened, but we don't teach how emancipation happened. So imagine that you've been a slave your whole life, you can't read and you can't write. It's illegal for you to know how to do these things. You've also never left this plantation before, it's illegal for you to leave this plantation. Okay, so what are you gonna do on Wednesday? Union soldiers gallop up and read off the emancipation proclamation. Better yet? What you gonna do when they finish and tell you that you are hereby and ever for free? Thanks, you can go now. - [Danielle] While the Journey to Jubilee tour is a look at the past, Brigette hopes it can shed light on the present and lead to a better future. - Here we stand today. Still trying to figure out what is freedom look like. To be honest, we still trying to figure out if we entitled to each year. Thank you for listening, any questions? - [Danielle] Thank you so much, Brigette. - These topics affect everybody. Slavery is something that not only happened to just black-Americans, it happened to Afro-Latinos and Afro-Caribbeans and anybody else that is a derivative of Africa. So I think it's important that everyone hears this story. So it doesn't happen to anybody else again. - Thanks a lot, Danielle. When I ask how he created one of his sculptures, Michael Angelo said he saw an angel inside the marble and just carved until he set him free. Rickey Chick recently met a Manchester artist who has a similar approach when it comes to carving wood. Here's the story of Roger Bennett and the Clear Branch Woodworks. - [Rickey] Roger Bennett has always loved working with wood. - Actually, I started underneath the shade tree of my grandpa whittling cedar. He taught me how to use a knife. - [Rickey] With his grandfather's mentoring, and several years of shop class, he quickly mastered the basics of woodworking, but it was his passion that transformed him from craftsman to the talented artist he is today. - Perfect. - [Rickey] Born and raised in rural coffee county, Roger has a connection with nature that results in an almost indefinable ability to find works of art, hidden in the trees that have been an integral part of his life's landscape. - I see it. It's hard to explain, I can be driving down the road and see a tree and say, oh, I wanna see what's inside of that tree. But it's amazing what you can see inside of trees, that the normal public never sees. It truly is. - [Rickey] Amazing, also aptly describes the exquisite works of art Roger lovingly liberates from the scraps of locally sourced wood, wood that he ironically describes as... - Ugly wood. I got a good friend, his name's Randy, he's got a band saw mill, he saves me the ugliest part of the trees. I love the ugly wood. He cuts it out, I stack it, dry. It takes a year forever inches thick to air dry. I've got wood, 20, 30 years old, stacked up out back. - [Rickey] You may not think letting a future work of art, essentially rot outdoors would be a good idea, but the results of the process, known as spalting speak for themselves. - Spalting is where you leave the wood outside in the weather and rotate it ever so often, you pile leaves and stuff on top of it and let mushroom grow, let the bugs enter it and leave it. As it rains the wood sucks the dirt and stuff into the wood and out the wood. As it ages, it takes months sometimes years. And that's what causes a spalting. That's gonna be a pretty vase. That's what this is gonna be the vase. - [Rickey] Roger can make just about anything he can imagine. But the depth of his artistic talent might best be showcased through a 1400 year old technique called intarsia. - It's the process of taking all different types of wood or one wood and making pictures out of by turning the grain and the shades in the wood to get your picture and their overall loop. No two are identical cause I'll just get a thought or I'll lose a train of thought and I'll eliminate a piece or I'll add a piece. But they all vary. 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 pieces. I said, it's like a puzzle. Like you got red cedar, you got walnut, you got popper. This is oak. As you can say, I've been doing it so long. I am good at puzzles. I see on the average small piece, it takes me about two, three days to get it all cut out. Sand shaped. They're gluing it together. I glue them to a backer. So they'll stay together. It's about a week process to finish one or send me a picture of their tattoo. Can you make this tattoo? Then I'll find the woods that match as close as possible to the color. And I'll go from there and cut it out. It's no problem. - [Rickey] Roger is more than a match for any problem that might arise while creating his artwork. After he's finished, well, that's another story. - My wife likes to keep a lot of it And she supports me all the way. My wife inspires me a lot. - [Rickey] Perhaps Misty's inspiration and support, is also behind Roger's philanthropic pursuits For children, at least. Rumor has it that you actually are known to give these away from time to time. Tell us about that. - I couldn't tell you, I mean, I have gave away. If a kid comes into the booth, if they touch it, you know, a kid wants it. And it's just amazing, but a simple rocking horse will do for a kid. - [Rickey] Oh, they're beautiful. They are really, really beautiful. - 26 years, I've been making them and giving them away, to kids only. No adults get free rocky horses. - [Rickey] This gentle giant offers so much more to anyone with an eye for detail, an appreciation for the sublime and a respect for humility. - I'm nowhere near as good as I want to be. You always wanna make yourself better and better and better, it's never ending. - [Rickey] Roger's inspirations, his family, his community, and the trees that provide the essence of his art, shine through his creations and are deeply rooted in the man. - There's a piece of me and every bit of it. I love doing it. - Usually when we take a Tennessee Crossroads trip, we make calls and let folks know we're coming. But here's what happened about 30 years ago when we took a spur of the moment, jot to an interesting spot we found on the map. The name of the place, well Nameless. - Tennessee is a state full of interesting sites. From the west side at Memphis to the east side, up in the Smoky's. It's also a state full of towns with interesting names. Where there's Christmasville here in west Tennessee, Ducktown down in the Southeast, and perhaps the most notable name of all, Nameless Tennessee. You almost can't get the Nameless from here, but if you can read the name on this battered sign and you turn on Shepherd's road off highway 56 north, you're on your way. It's one of those places, so small. If you blink, you'll miss it. I guess I blinked, cause I missed it the first time. So I stopped here at a store on the way to get directions. When I finally got there, I found this community building, but no stores and certainly no visitors center. So I stopped at the nearest house and found a Nameless resident working in his yard. - Elmer, what does it feel like being in a place that's nameless? - Well, it's pretty good, I guess, but it's good place as any. - If you had your way, would you name it something else? - Yeah, I would. - You would? - Yeah, I would. - It wouldn't be Nameless anymore? - No, it wouldn't be Nameless. - But would it be? - I'd name it Cat town, nothing else. That's all you see, you're running a bunch of cats. - Next, I met up with Willie Frank Wheeler. He's a lifelong Nameless resident, and I figured he could offer an explanation on how the strange name came about. - The most likely story is came from a representative, when they named it for, well, they couldn't decide at first, and then representative wanted to name it for a friend. And when except that, so Nameless, seemed to be the best name to please everybody. - So when people couldn't make it their minds, they said, let's just leave it Nameless, huh? - They seemed to please everybody. - Now there used to be a Nameless store across the road, which is now somebody's house. There's a Nameless Communities Center where the folks get together every so often and a volunteer fire department, always ready for those Nameless emergencies. moved here a few years ago and works for the volunteer fire department. This firetruck is an old converted school bus. You see, there's no budget for firefighting equipment here in this tiny community, but Don tells me the name along has a lot of pull. - We've been able to play on the name Nameless throughout the country. And we've gotten over 25, $30,000 worth of equipment, given to us by five or six various departments around the country, because they think Nameless is a joke. Then when we show them pictures of this converted school bus into a fire truck, they go crazy and they say, we gotta help these guys and they do. - Don and his wife, Lisa were the first outsiders to move here in quite a while, but they couldn't name up better place to live. - I guess the main reason is, because I'm a bit of a hermit and I like to be someplace where people will leave me alone. I have land here, I have seven gardens, two orchards, a vineyard, a greenhouse, and if I lived in a lot of other places I couldn't have all that. And I like it here. - [Joe] Lisa's the Nameless artist. She's making a name for herself with drawings of local flowers and Nameless citizens. Her favorite is this one of the late Burnest Burgs. - They called him the Nameless Whitler, and he just sat out there. He would never waved anybody or talked to anybody, but if he knew you real well, while he was sitting there doing that, if he knew you he'd go and that was all you got, and then you knew you were accepted. And he accepted me cause I used to get the finger, but getting the finger from Bernice was good. - Another nameless attraction is this Ridge. That's literally loaded with geo. There is strange round rocks that hide an abundance of quartz crystals. - There you go. - That's a beautiful quartz geo. That one cut and polish would be gorgeous. - Well, whether you come here for geological oddities or just plain curiosity, you'd be hard pressed to name a quiet or prettier place, or one with nicer friendlier people. Nameless has received national attention for its name or lack of one. Don't expect that to cause any changes. Why it's fine just the way it is, at least for the a hundred or so Nameless people who call it home. Well, I love those flashbacks. And I hope you love this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. Please join us on our website sometime, TennesseCrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook and join us right here next week. I'll see you then. - [Reporter] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by... - [Woman] This season there's something small that makes a big difference. Flu vaccines protect ourselves and others. Flu vaccines are available. Learn more at tn.gov/health/fightflu.
February 17, 2022
Season 35 | Episode 28
Laura Faber meets a Nashville food expert who turns cheese into culinary art. Danielle Allen heads to the Belle Meade mansion and the Journey to Jubilee Tour. Rickey Chick travels to Manchester, the home of Clear Branch Woodworks. And Joe Elmore Flashbacks to our journey to town named "Nameless."