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- [Speaker] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by: 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 [Joe Elmore] This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we meet the owner and creator of Olivia's Tasty Treats. Then discover a taste of whiskey history in Leipers Fork. We'll chow down at a popular Centerville meat and three, and finally, for the fun of it a visit to the children's museum of Memphis. Hi everyone. I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome once more to another edition of Tennessee Crossroads. [Jazz Music] [Joe Elmore] Since the dawn of time, apples have carved out a place in history from Adam and Eve to sir Issac Newton to a good way to keep the doctor away. Well, in our first story, Miranda Cohen introduces us to a national woman who creates elegant treats that are worthy of a new two page and apple history. [Jazz Music] [Leslie Fisher] Three [Miranda Cohen] Meet Leslie Fisher but her creative dessert business bears another name [Leslie] Olivia's Tasty Treats. Olivia is my mom. She passed away and I want to keep her legacy going. [Miranda] Miss Olivia, Leslie's mother, was also known as the queen of the pound cake. Her grandmother was famous for her coconut cakes. So it was only natural that Fisher developed a love and talent for baking. [Leslie] I learned from them cooking. It has to come from the heart. You can't just cook, you know it has to be something in you that you love to do. So I was the oldest granddaughter. I was taught to be in the kitchen to learn how to cook. So my grandmother was a excellent cook. She taught me how to cook. And my mother taught me how to bake. [Miranda] It was Miss Olivia who encouraged her daughter to enroll in classes and pursue her passion of decorating her beautiful cakes. But Fisher wanted to honor her mother's legacy with even bigger ideas. [Leslie] My first product was, besides cakes, It was strawberries. I said, well, let me try to dip strawberries, dip them learn how to change the colors of the white chocolate. Learn that process. I said, you know what let me try candy, apples, just trial and error. I made some horrible candy apples. Then I learned the process the correct process of making them. Then I went from there and just took off with it. [Upbeat Music] [Miranda] The bad apples are way behind her. Leslie Fisher's decadent beautiful candy apples are earning her the nickname of the Queen of Apples. And for good reason, her hand dipped and lavishly decorated creations are gorgeous. And as her clients will attest maybe almost too gorgeous. [Leslie] They'll say, oh my God, it's too pretty to eat. It's like glass. Um, you can see your reflection in the candy apple. [Miranda] Fisher will coat the apples with a secret candy coating that will almost make the apples look mirrored. They are then beautifully decorated, wrapped and ready to be the stars of the show. Olivia's tasty treats are sought out by celebrities event planners, brides and anyone who wants to make an elegant edible statement. [Leslie] You can do so much now, besides just the regular carnival candy apple, you can change it. You can change your colors. You can change the flavor. You can add numbers, you can add names. You can do a lot with candy apples. [Miranda] Fisher has filled orders from six to 300 and the clients who don't know exactly what they want. Well, those are her favorites. [Fisher] When people place a order, then I vision like the theme of the, the party or wedding or whatever. Then I just take my vision and I incorporate it. And I ask my customer, do you mind if I just put my own little spin to it? You know, just gimme your colors, your flavors. And I'll just, I'll take care of it. [Miranda] Leslie will mix up the flavors and colors that she puts on the apples. But the one thing she never changes is the type of apple. It's always a Granny Smith. And the secret to that beautiful shine is every apple gets a deep cleaning. [Upbeat Music] [Leslie] That's all I use is Granny Smith because it has a tougher skin and it can withhold the heat from the candy. You wanna make sure that all the wax is off the apple. You wanna make sure the apple is completely dry and that's how you get the shine. [Miranda] Fisher still does plenty of cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, chocolate covered cookies, And yes, those incredibly beautiful strawberries, too. Everything done with painstaking detail a true perfectionist in her art. [Leslie] It's just all about patience and the love and the time and the tension that you take to making a product. [Miranda] Miss Olivia never got to savor her daughter's sweet success but Fisher says she is still her greatest inspiration. [Leslie] Yeah, she will be extremely happy because this is part of her and I wanted to keep it going. So when I'm here working in the kitchen late night I'm struggling to keep pushing. I could just hear them say, Leslie, just keep going. Just keep pushing. Just you got this. [Miranda] Olivia's Tasty Treats are available through her social media pages. [Leslie] I think my favorite part is just knowing that I'm-I'm gonna create something wonderful for somebody and they're gonna appreciate it and they're gonna speak about it and they're gonna enjoy it. I just, I love to see people happy with a good product. So that's my joy. [Upbeat Music] [Joe] Thanks Miranda. In our next story, we get a taste of Williamson county history from a glass of whiskey. It's the first legal distillery to open there since the early 19 hundreds. And as Laura favor discovered the Leiper's Fork Distillery doing it the old fashioned way. [Country Guitar Music] [Laura] If this land could talk it would have a colorful story to tell 27 rolling acres out side Leipers Fork and Williamson county have quite a history. A heritage that whiskey lovers are reclaiming and paid tribute to. It's an old industry made new again through a growing number of new artisan distilleries here and statewide. [Kennedy] To 2009, a lot of forward thinking legislators they came together, wrote some legislation and got it passed to allow distilleries back into Tennessee. So now you're seeing a burgeoning industry come back. [Laura] Leiper's Fork Distillery is the first legal distillery in Williamson county. Since the early 19 hundreds, the property is gorgeous from the 5,000 square foot timber frame still house to the circa 1820 cabin. It was deconstructed in van Leer, Tennessee, and rebuilt logged by log complete with the carving of the name of the man who originally built it. [Country Music] Through daily tours and tastings visitors are greeted by tour guides like pops and learn that Tennessee and whiskey have always gone hand in hand. - We make whiskey in what's called pre-prohibition style. [Laura] That style can be traced back to Scottish and Irish settlers who came to the state lead distiller and proprietor Lee Kennedy says many came with whiskey know-how and literally the stills on their backs. [Kennedy] There is direct link from Scotland and Ireland over to the United States of those early settlers that came in and started producing whiskey same method they used in Scotland and Ireland. They couldn't grow barley like they grew in Scotland and Ireland very well. So they used their, their native grains that they had here. They could grow rye. So rye whiskey was actually the first American whiskey to to really be produced used in any kind of bulk. And then corn based distillate bourbon Tennessee whiskey made from corn. Corn is America's native grain. And so those guys took with their knowledge from Scotland and Ireland, and literally just adapted it to the new world. [Laura] Census numbers show that in 1896, the distilling industry was the largest manufacturing industry in the state 322 total distilleries. Of course prohibition put a stop to that. But even after federal prohibition ended in 1933 most Tennessee counties voted against distillation essentially instituting a prohibition here of legal whiskey manufacturing that lasted 100 years but moonshine prevailed. Luckily for Kennedy today, he is able to legally make a living from his passion for whiskey. He built his first, still at 16 years old but now is fulfilling a dream. He left his career in financial services and opened Leipers Fork Distillery in 2016. [Kennedy] We're part of a, kind of a Renaissance in Tennessee distilling that's been going on since 2009. [Laura] Even this property has a history soaked in whiskey. Colonel Henry Hunter once owned this land and hundreds of acres more in the surrounding area. [Kennedy] When we came up with our first brand but we decided to name that after him, you know, it's he was a true Tennessee volunteer. So we were kind of telling his story, which is kind of story of a lot of early, early folks into middle Tennessee. [Laura] Leipers Fork Distillery is a small batch distillery producing about 25,000 gallons a year inside the still house you find vats of bubbly mash in cypress fermentation tanks. There is also the beautiful 500 gallon swan neck whiskey still. [Kennedy] That's 137 proof whiskey. So this is what the whiskey looks like as it's coming off. The still when a hundred percent of the color is gonna come from the barrel, once it enters, enters the barrel but this is what we call new make whiskey. [Laura] And all those charred white Oak barrels are an extremely important part of the process. Two core spirits are made here Tennessee whiskey and bourbon [Kennedy] Sugar maple charcoal is the only difference really between Tennessee whiskey and bourbon. So the way you really make Tennessee whiskey is you make bourbon in the state of Tennessee. And before that whiskey goes into a barrel we filter it through sugar, maple charcoal. [Laura] This Tennessee Crossroads barrel has just been filled with whiskey. And the next step in the process involves putting in this plug made of poplar wood that will swell and completely seal the barrel. Once it's in there, this whiskey won't see the light of day for five to seven years. Are you ready? Here we go. Okay. That's satisfying. Since opening in 2016, the Colonel hunters and the white whiskey Natchez Trace brands have kept the distillery afloat but November, 2020 will be memorable for Kennedy and his staff. That's when the Leipers Fork flagship brand of whiskey comes out. The whiskey that flowed into those barrels years ago, Kennedy can't wait to see it in local restaurants, bars, and retail. [Kennedy] I feel very blessed and fortunate to do what we do in this industry to actually create something tangible. You know, we're at the end of the day we're making a physical product and we're using our local resources to do that. So we kind of look at our whiskey as an expression of our surroundings [Laura] Learning what it takes to transform a grain into a libation that whiskey lovers can pour into a glass and enjoy. And where those age old recipes came from may be one of the most satisfying history lessons of all. [Joe] Thanks, Laura, to many of us, the words, tea room conjure visions of finger sandwiches, scones and little dainty tea cups. Well, you can get tea at the Beacon Light Tearoom as long as it's iced tea but you see it's the sumptuous Southern cooking that attracts loyal diners to this historic restaurants at Bon Aqua Before Interstate 40, Highway 100 was a main route from Memphis to Nashville. Then as now the Beacon Light Tearoom has been a roadside haven for hungry travelers. [Upbeat Tempo] [Kim] We like to make people feel comfortable and at home and give him a good meal. 20 we'll have it ready, okay? Thank you, Bye-bye. [Joe] Kim Wyn and her husband bought the place in 2008 and today not much has changed since it first opened near Bon Aqua in 1936, especially the signature biscuits preserves country, ham and fried chicken. These days, the beacon light is a dining destination especially for folks who want to get away to the country or what's like a visit to grandma's house. [Kim] And the people it's, it's just like family coming here. [Joe] The restaurants Southern fried chicken is almost legendary especially prepared. So it's crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. [Kim] Now you have to cook it and cast iron scale it. It that's the, that's the secret. That's just the old time way to, you know, that we all grew up and then we have fried chicken, you know, and that's that's what we do here. We have skill's going all the time. [Joe] Oh. And just before it's served, each piece gets a short dip in the deep fryer for a little extra crunch. - You haven't jumped on that. So-called hot chicken bandwagon yet. - No, no. We, we try to stay away from the hot chicken. The, the other chicken keeps us pretty busy. [Joe] Now, even before placing your order you'll get a basket of beacon, light biscuits which garner rave reviews from food critics and customers alike. - You have a special recipe for that. [Kim] Oh, we do. We do have a special recipe for that. Oh, lad and butter milk. I think that's what makes them - Lard and butter milk? - Lard. not shorten and vegetable, all lard. Yeah. - Okay. [Joe] Now the homemade biscuit toppings are not jellies, not jams. [Kim] It's a preserve. So it has more, more of a liquid consistency to it and we just put the fruit in and sugar and and just let 'em cook. And they're really good over some hot biscuits. [Joe] And a lot of customers want to take some home while fried chicken rules roost on the menu. country ham and red eye gravy run a close second. in case you've never tried to cook the Southern classic. Well, Kim's gonna take you through the steps. [Kim] We put a little butter with a ham and a touch of hot sauce in there, and you let that sear to the skillet. And then you add a coffee water mix to this and just stir it. And then you let that come to a little boil the boil pulls the salt out of the ham. So give it that flavor and then it'll be ready for a seed. - It's not just everywhere that you can go and get country ham and red eye gravy. But it's, it's, it's my favorite. If I come and in the morning or in the afternoon evening it's usually scrambled eggs on country ham. [Upbeat Music] [Joe] It goes without saying many customers are regulars and they don't mind the extra miles required to reach this roadside gem. [Kim] We have people from all around that come to see us. They Memphis, Nashville several that come from even outta state. When they're coming to visit Tennessee. [Jim] We love the food. It's consistent friendly. Can't get it in the city. And we just love the, just love the restaurant. We love The people. [Joe] Jim Levine's a regular who loves the place so much. Well, he recorded a song about it for charity - Built in 1936 from a live stones and a bunch of sticks 75 years and still is going strong. So if you are hankering for Southern cooking wherever waitress is so good looking this is just a place where you belong. [Joe] When you're open six days a week. Well, you have to put in plenty of hours of hard work, but for Kim Wyn the happy faces of satisfied customers, make it all worthwhile. [Kim] I do love it. And you know, the customers that come in here there's so many of 'em that are repeat customers. And you just, you get to know 'em, you know I think that's just the the atmosphere that we want the beacon like to have [Jim] Under that beacon outside. [Joe] No doubt about it. Kids spend way too much time. These days staring at screens. Well, Tennessee Crossroads excluded. Of course, Danielle Allen found a spot in Memphis that not only makes youngsters forget about their phones but it also teaches them some fun stuff in the process. [Danielle] The Children's Museum of Memphis, where a kid can be a kid or a firefighter or policeman, or anything they dream of really. this is where imagination takes a center stage. [Stephanie] At the end of the day the museum is all about having teaching children but doing it through play, you know, everything. We don't have a lot of collections. This is not a collections museum of dinosaur bones and artwork. This is really a touch play and feel museum. And so everything is designed to really engage a child's movement, creativity and engagement so that they can have fun but also learn while they're doing it. [Danielle] Stephanie Butler is the executive director of the museum. She says, learning this way is essential to a child's growth. [Danielle] Learning through play is a key part of human development. All children, even when they're, you know, in diapers are and mom and dad are interacting with them. A big part of how they're learning. You don't think you're teaching your child but you are through playing peek-a-boo, through playing with different toys and so forth. The museum is able to do that on a grand scale. [Danielle] That grand scale includes a station to plant vegetables, flying a huge plane through the sky. And there's even a place to go hang gliding. It's a creative way to reinforce whats learned in the classroom, which is something parents appreciate - Lots of fun very different creative type things out of the box. Out of the ordinary [Danielle] The children's museum of Memphis has a history. That's just as interesting as the present this building was once a national guard armor it set empty for years before the museum opened in 1990 since then hundreds of thousands of kids have passed through solidifying its place in Memphis culture. [Stephanie] It is a, a cultural amenity. It's a civic amenity. Certainly it's an important destination for people visiting the city. We're certainly a regional draw, especially for folks in rural areas who may not have access to to a children's museum. So I think that that's important, but I think at the end of the day, whether it's to visitors one time visitors to the community or our residents and citizens what it does is it promotes the importance of children. [Danielle] Obviously the museum is geared toward children but there's one thing people of all ages enjoy, The grand carousel immaculate horses fit for a king and a queen. And it's a ride. The parents and kids equally get a kick out of. It's a piece of Memphis history that connects the young and the old [Stephanie] When the Liberty land closed down, the carousel had been part of the fairgrounds and of Liberty land. Since the 1920s, it's a 1909 dental carousel. Everything is hand carved. It's an amazing work of art. It's an amazing historical feature. But when Liberty land closed down it had gotten very safely moth balled and put away safely. This, the community, the city really wanted to be able to keep it, but there wasn't a home for it. The museum and its trustees really had the vision to think what better place, especially since we are located right on the side of the fairgrounds to really able to be able to be a home for for the carousel [Danielle] Getting a carousel running again was no easy task. It had been in storage for years. So crews had their work cut out for them. They had to carefully remove layers and layers of paint. But after a year of work, the horses looked shiny and new. It now has the colors and look of the original carousel for more than 100 years ago - The carousel was fun. I really like to see my little sister having so much fun on it. [Stephanie] I think it's a great draw. I think it does bring in a broader group of people who suddenly see the carousel when they're driving down central avenue and think, wow, I remember that from the fairgrounds or from Liberty land, back in the day [Danielle] The carousel also has a chariot for wheelchairs. This is one of the many ways the museum is making sure everyone is included and the fun [Stephanie] We're always striving as we improve our exhibits and so forth to make sure that exhibits are accessible especially to those kids who have physical disabilities. [Danielle] The children's museum of Memphis saw more than 260,000 guests last year. And they have plans to bring in more. They're refreshing popular exhibits like the replica of the FedEx plane. And they're adding new additions to help children learn in new ways. But no matter what kids play with here, the museum hopes to have the same impact on every child who walks through the door [Stephanie] And I think whatever, wherever the child is coming from whatever their background, their ability, we wanna make sure that we have an experience where they can come and be inspired and engaged. And at the end of the day, we want people to come and leave thinking, wow, you know, I might wanna be a dentist, I might wanna fly an airplane, but at the end of the day we're trying to think about what are we trying to inspire and teach kids with this? And then how can we design it so that kids are gonna have fun. [Joe] Hard to believe we've come to the end of another Tennessee crossroads episode. Sure. Appreciate you joining us. Say why don't you check our website out from time to time Tennesseecrossroads.org You can follow us on Facebook, of course. And by all means, join us here next week. We'll see you then [Jazz Music] - Tennessee crossroads is made possible in part by 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.
March 10, 2022
Season 35 | Episode 31
Miranda Cohen meets the owner and creator of Olivia’s Tasty Treats. Laura Faber samples whiskey history in Leiper’s Fork. Joe Elmore chows down at a popular Centerville meat ‘n three. And Danielle Allen visits the Children’s Museum of Memphis.