Amanda Niel, Scenic City Supper Club, Easy Bistro & Main Street Meats (Chattanooga, TN)

photo: stephanie burt

photo: stephanie burt

Like many wonderful women who grew up in the South, there’s something hospitable about Amanda Niel. She has an easy smile and laugh and a down-to-earth persona that makes those around her comfortable, but beyond that exterior is an astute business mind with high level organizational skills -- high level enough to keep the restaurant machines of Easy Bistro and Main Street Meats running, while at the same time, taking on new challenges, such as her pop up baby the Scenic City Supper Club. In this seasonal dinner series, she attracts some amazing culinary talent from outside the city, combines those artisans with local chefs and local products, and then places it all in a one-of-a-kind venue with good wine, and she sells out every time. This is no small feat, and neither is taking on the challenges of family and business in an industry it’s obvious she’s loved all her life.

Episode  151 >

Andrea Upchurch, Obstinate Daughter & Beardcat’s Sweet Shop (Sullivan’s Island, SC)

photo: aaron kotowaski

photo: aaron kotowaski

I met pastry chef Andrea Upchurch years ago when we judged a food contest together, and I knew that we were going to be friends from the beginning -- she was wearing vintage shoes and little confection earrings. But beyond that fashion interest, she’s one of the most loved chefs in Charleston, SC, inspiring classes of pastry cooks through her tenure at Cypress, Magnolia, and Blossom downtown, and she’s now leading a team to sweet success at The Obstinate Daughter and Beardcat’s Sweet Shop on Sullivan’s Island. It might seem that she can cruise on a candy highway now since she knows her craft so well, but as a mother and a manager, she spends a lot of time thinking about how best to balance her professional pursuits, her team’s needs, and her family’s well being, an aspect of chef life we rarely see discussed but a juggling act that is present in many a professional kitchen. Oh, and P.S. She mentions Jacques Larson, her executive chef, frequently in this episode, and you can hear him directly on Episode 11.

Episode 152 ›

 

 

Sara McIntyre, Crabtree Farms (Chattanooga, TN)

photo: stephanie burt

photo: stephanie burt

When I visited Chattanooga a few weeks ago, I wanted the air to be mountain cool, but instead, the morning I headed to visit Crabtree Farms, an urban farm just minutes from my downtown hotel, the air was thick with humidity and almost just as hot as the temps I’d left in Charleston. Still, executive director Sara McIntyre greeted me with a sparkling smile, and I soon understood why. Crabtree Farms is a little slice of wonderful to work in. We traipsed over acres, sampling flowers, herbs, paw-paw fruit, and tiny gold tomatoes right from the vine that were warm to the touch. Sara, a former school science teacher who completed her graduate studies at Teton Science School Graduate Program in Grand Teton National Park, does more than just lead farm tours. The farm is a hub for the community, and she has her hands in all parts of it, dirt under her fingernails, and a hope that springs forth even as weather and climate often create chaos.

Episode 153 >