Munching through the food show

Sandra ClarkFeature

The Food City Food Show is an experience like no other. First, you pay $10 and ride down two escalators to get to the cavernous basement of the Knoxville Convention Center. Next, you hand over your ticket, pick up a grocery bag or two and fall into line.

The line snakes around the floor, passing maybe 150 vendor booths. Also, Food City departments are exhibiting – produce, cake-baking, fried chicken from the deli (the guys could not cook this fast enough) and more.

Saturday’s visit was my second, but I saw “old friends” from last year’s show. It’s high energy and great smelling – pizza, sausage, bacon, pastries of all sorts.

Glenn Beranek and David Cheney promote Kenny’s Great Pies.

My favorite booth was Kenny’s Great Pies, a Georgia-based company that specializes in key lime and other citrus pies with cookie crusts. The booth was staffed by the company’s VP of sales, Glenn R. Beranek, and David Cheney. Both wore stark black wigs and black leather jackets. “We’re doing a ’50s theme,” said Cheney. They looked like the “Wild and Crazy Guys” from Saturday Night Live.

“At least she doesn’t know our names,” said Beranek, as I copied from their name tags.

Kelsey Barnard Clark was on center stage cooking a peach cobbler and answering questions. Her life’s been a whirlwind since she won Season 16 of Bravo television’s Top Chef in March.

Dino Cartwright passed a microphone through the crowd. One woman said, “Well, I just sat down here to rest, but I like you!”

Nothing seemed to go right for Clark. She splattered whipped cream, using a commercial mixer on high speed. Then she placed a dish cloth over the top half of the bowl away from her. She plunged the mixer back in and caught an edge of the towel, dragging it into the bowl. “I usually use cellophane,” she said.

Later, somebody asked her most embarrassing professional moment, and she said. “That was just it.”

That’s when most of us realized she had intentionally messed up the topping mix.

Clark has appeared in New York, Chicago and Kentucky since winning Top Chef. She also owns a restaurant in her hometown of Dothan, Alabama. KBC Eatery. Catering. Bakery. specializes in Southern food for lunch and dinner.

You can’t beat cast iron cookware, she said. Buy it at Cracker Barrel or a yard sale. Don’t worry if it’s rusted. “Just rub it with oil and put it in the oven for four hours. Then scrub it off with salt.”

She talked about her mother buying bruised fruit. “You don’t want to try to make a cobbler with a hard peach.” She used canned peaches for her cobbler at the food show, topping them with biscuits and the towel-infused whipped cream.

Her talk was educational and fun. It might be worth a trip to Dothan to check out KBC. Her menu is here.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today, Inc. Reach her at 865-661-8777.

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