Memphis Food Boner

A Fat Man Knows About Food – I’m now enrolled in a Food Writing class at the University of Memphis. Our first assignment is to keep a diary of the food we eat. I told the professor that this will probably shame me into going on a diet.
Aug. 22, 2016

Breakfast – Kroger Everything Bagel, lightly toasted with melted butter. 1/2 cup coffee and a glass of milk.

Lunch – Ham and swiss cheese sandwich with Roma tomatoes and diced shallots, sandwiched between 2 pieces of whole wheat bread with Durkee’s Famous Spread. Lay’s potato chips, carrot sticks, black grapes and 1/2 fruit punch Powerade.

Dinner – Leftover rib eye burrito with cheddar cheese and jalapeno pepper. Garlic mashed potatoes brought home from a potluck by my wife and a large glass of iced tea.

Late Night Snack – Carrot sticks and black grapes.

August 23, 2016

Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs seasoned with black pepper. Cup of coffee and glass of milk.

Lunch – 2 1/2 slices of cold sausage pizza from Domino’s at a RUF event in the UC. 1 cup of Dr. Pepper.

Dinner – Large bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup with Parmesan cheese crackers. Tortilla chips with homemade Pico de Gallo. Large glass of iced tea.

Chicken noodle soup

After Dinner Snack – 2 raisin oatmeal cookies at a bible study.

August 24, 2016

Breakfast – Sausage, egg and cheese on a biscuit. Glass of milk and 1/2 cup of coffee.


Lunch – Ham and swiss cheese sandwich with Roma tomatoes and diced shallots, sandwiched between 2 pieces of whole wheat bread with Durkee’s Famous Spread. Carrot sticks, black grapes and 1/2 fruit punch Powerade.

Dinner – Leftover bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup with Parmesan cheese crackers. Large glass of iced tea.

August 24, 2016

Breakfast – Bowl of Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats with fresh sliced strawberries and skim milk. Coffee, skim milk.

Lunch – Ham and swiss cheese sandwich with Roma tomatoes and diced shallots, sandwiched between 2 pieces of whole wheat bread with Durkee’s Famous Spread. Carrot sticks, black grapes and 1/2 fruit punch Powerade.

Dinner – Large chef salad from Garibaldi’s Pizza with ranch dressing. 2 packets of saltine crackers. Iced tea.

August 25, 2016

Breakfast – Smoothie made with frozen Athena cantaloupe, banana, blueberry, vanilla yogurt, 6 cubes of ice. Cup of coffee.

Lunch – Meatloaf special at Tug’s Casual Grill. Meatloaf was topped with thinly sliced fried onion rings. Served with mashed potatoes and gravy, peas and carrots, cornbread muffin. Iced Tea.


Dinner – Mushroom and Mexican cheese burrito with diced jalapeno peppers. Tortilla chips and iced tea.

August 26, 2016

Breakfast – Old fashioned Quaker oatmeal with blueberries and a dusting of sugar. Tall glass of skim milk and cup of coffee.

Lunch – Burrito from Chipotle Mexican Grill, filled with cilantro-lime brown rice, steak, tomato green chili salsa, cheese and guacamole. Tortilla chips and iced tea.

Dinner – Italian dinner from fundraiser. Spinach lasagna, spaghetti with meat sauce and Parmesan cheese, side salad with bottled ranch dressing and slice of garlic bread. Iced tea.

August 27, 2016

Breakfast – 2 fried eggs, over easy, 4 strips of bacon, and 1 buttermilk biscuit. Skim milk and coffee.

Lunch – Sliced pink crisp apple.

Dinner – Cheddar’s Restaurant with my parents. Part of onion ring tower and chips with spinach dip. 1/2 Monte Cristo sandwich dusted lightly with powdered sugar, served with raspberry preserves and french fries. Iced tea.


August 28, 2016

Breakfast – Fiber One Lemon breakfast bar. Skim milk and cup of coffee.

Lunch – Countless numbers of sliders from Memphis Best Burger Fest, lemonade, 4 gallons of water.

Dinner – Seriously?? You think I had room for dinner after all those burgers?



Fruit Bowl


A cornucopia of color and texture in the flesh of fruit filled the 30-year-old Chinese bowl to the brim in our classroom last Wednesday. What started out as a visual display turned into a amazement of taste and epiphany. What looked like a watermelon was actually a yellow-flesh watermelon when it was cut open. The color contrast between the bright yellow lemons and the red grapes, the fuzzy green kiwi and the smooth skin of the Fuji apples created an almost sensual sensation. An avocado paired nicely with the Bartlett pear. God’s handiwork was on display in the fruit bowl of edible nature.



Burgerfest Tantalizes Tastebuds


By Steve Collins

Thousands of people gathered at Memphis’ Best Burgerfest last Sunday at Tiger Lane to sample some of Memphis’ finest hamburgers. I was one of those fortunate thousand. My wife and I volunteered to work the event, which meant we were able to taste several burgers. Hey, I’m an American, right? So evaluating the best burgers is a both a birthright and a perk of volunteering for the Burgerfest.

For the teams, the day is all about the contest. Who will win the title of Best Burger? A group of judges will decide which burger will win one of three categories. That’s all fine and good for the teams, but I decided to judge which burger won on MY taste buds.


My vote for top burger of the day went to a team from West Memphis, Arkansas, called Suns Out, Buns Out. They served up the Down South Blackened Bayou Burger. This Cajun-spiced blackened patty with pepper jack cheese was topped with lettuce, tomato, and remoulade sauce. What put this burger over the top was the homemade crawfish jubilee sauce on a toasted Kaiser bun. The crawfish jubilee sauce was made with pieces of crawfish big enough to recognize, which gave it an additional texture and flavoring.


Second place on my taste bud pallet was the slider from Belly Acres, a farm to fork restaurant in Overton Square. Frank Lloyd prepared a modified sample of their signature The Cure burger which was a grass-fed beef patty, smoked gouda cheese, acre sauce (a mix of BBQ, honey, and mustard), and a tomato on sourdough bun. The meat was seared to medium, but maintained a moist meld with the addition of the Acre sauce.


LBOE (Last Burger on Earth) provided what I thought was the third place burger on my tongue. Turns out, this was the overall winner at Burgerfest. Owner Lee Adams plated ½ pound of beef sourced from Charlie’s Meat Market, American cheese, thinly sliced onion petals, comeback sauce (ketchup, mayo, special seasoning) served on Ciabatta Bread, which did an excellent job of holding the burger together. LBOE burned down last April and plans to re-open in their same location just west of Overton Square in October.

The winners at Burgerfest? I think I was. I had a chance to taste some delicious burgers, but my tastebuds don’t count. Here are the official results:







1 – LBOE



Mac’s Gourmet Burger Bar

By Steve Collins


The Shrimp Po’boy at Mac’s Gourmet Mac & Cheese Burger Bar had so many shrimp (6) on it that they were literally falling off the bun. And that bun! Lightly toasted around the edges but soft on the inside, but still stiff enough to hold the sandwich together. The shrimp were butterflied and lightly battered and placed on four 3/16” dill pickles layered on top of their zesty fry dip (mustard, ketchup, Cajun seasonings), which could easily be mistaken for a remoulade sauce. It took me back to South Louisiana. Diced pickles and shredded lettuce filled out the sandwich and made for a nice crunch combination with the fried shrimp.  It was served with a side of crispy French fries with the skin partially on.


Memphis Farmer’s Market Video
Featured Farmer’s Market Vendor – Mama D’s Italian Ice


Seafood Gumbo: A Louisiana Tradition

By Steve Collins

Growing up in a military family, I was privileged to experience Texas chili, Omaha beef, and Louisiana Cajun cooking. It’s no coincidence that my formative cooking years spent in South Louisiana developed my appreciation for and my love of the dishes made famous in this area.

Food I’d never heard of before was now set down in front of me to eat. Boiled crawfish. Jambalaya. Red beans and rice. Seafood gumbo. Where had these dishes been all my life?

Turns out these foods have been around since 1764, before Christopher Columbus discovered America. When slave ships arrived to the region, they carried rice and men who knew how to cultivate it. This grain thrived around the Mississippi River, and soon became a diet staple.

For the next 250 years, colonists continued to improve the local cuisine that featured shellfish, sausage, vegetables and local spices.

French colonists who settled in the Acadia region of Canada relocated to the Acadiana region of South Louisiana when they were forced from their homes during the British conquest in 1710. Other cultures including Italian, Spanish, African, German, Caribbean, Native American and Portuguese also contributed to the culture of New Orleans and gumbo emerged from that mix.

“The dish personifies the word ‘Creole’; like its human counterparts, gumbo was born in the New World and took cues from the old but adapted to the new,” says Cynthia Lejeune Nobleso, who is the author of The “Delta Queen” Cookbook and is a food columnist for the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Today, gumbo crosses all economic and social demographics in the South. Ingredients vary from cook to cook, as well as from one part of the state to the other. Some will argue that gumbo has to be made with okra, while others are content to cook with a roux and file’ powder, a spicy herb made from the dried and ground leaves of the North American sassafras tree. (Hint: If you pray to God for patience, He will tell you to make a roux.)

Cajun cooking can be summed up as country food, and creole cooking is looked upon as city food. Creole cooking also uses more tomatoes. Whatever cooking you call gumbo, it’s a culinary tradition.

Recipes are like roadmaps. If you know where you are going, or if you’ve been there before, you don’t need to follow it as close. For me, this recipe from is my basic roadmap, but I use more duck, glaze the pan with white wine, and use red, green, and yellow peppers.

Southern Memoire Food Recipe

Memphis BBQ

By Steve Collins

With a BBQ joint on most major streets in Memphis, it’s easy to argue which restaurant is the best. In 1986 I moved here from Houston only to learn that we were barbequing the wrong animal in Texas. I fell in love with BBQ pork and have learned not to enter in to any argument questioning “wet or dry?”

Depending on the part of the country you’re from, BBQ can mean the type of meat or the process of cooking the meat. Whatever your stance, Memphis BBQ cannot be told without exploring the past, present and future of the topic. This video combines a bit of history, a visit with a local BBQ legend, and a look at the next thing in BBQ.

Rodney Baber was one of the first Events Chairman at Memphis in May. He shared some funny stories about the first Memphis in May World BBQ Festival. His scrapbook provided a visual consider the history of the contest.

Desiree Robinson opened The Cozy Corner restaurant in 1977 with her late husband Raymond. The restaurant closed last year due to a fire and re-opened in late October of 2016. Desiree shared a funny story about customers picking up their plates when the fire started to spread, then at their BBQ while watching the building burn down.

Blake Carson invented the six-rotisserie spit grill accessory called the Carson Rodizio. It cooks meat over an open flame, and is an insight into the next phase of BBQ.

Southern Food – Memphis BBQ

Rock N Dough Rocks the Pizza Oven

By Steve Collins

A pizza joint can be a little slice of heaven, depending on where you go. Heaven on earth for me is Rock N Dough Pizza, at the north end of the Highland Strip at Poplar. I first visited this restaurant about a year ago, and have only been to another pizza parlor once in that time.

So what would make be turn up my nose at the usual (unmentionable) pizza places in town? The product, the owner, and the location. Sure, it’s only a quarter of a mile from my house, but if the food isn’t good, the location should not matter. I’ve ordered artesian pizzas, pizza by the slice, calzones, hamburgers and even brunch from Rock N Dough and have not been disappointed once. Then the owner is concerned about your meal as well as your complete dining experience.

“I saw a need in the market for northern style pizza and decided to open up a pizza joint,” explains Jeremy Denno, owner of three Rock N Dough locations. “We’ve also been successful in Germantown and Jackson (Tennessee), and now serves food at the FedEx Forum.” Not bad for a kid who started working in a family friend’s pizzeria when he was sixteen.”

His secret to success is having a clear vision of what he wants the restaurant to be in the future, and work hard to make that a reality. RND only uses quality ingredients and management makes sure the whole team pays attention to details and make every pizza a pizza you would want to eat yourself. We have a fantastic crew at Rock’n Dough, and awesome customers. “They are the reason we have been able to expand as we have,” Jeremy continues, “and we are so thankful for them.”

The new menu items are what bring a lot of customers back. Denno’s plan from the start was to serve something other than pizza. He started out in a food truck and now serves chicken wings, brunch, beignets, and has a full line of craft beer. Customers tell him all the time, “I didn’t know you served anything other than pizza!”

As a fan of their brunch, I have to include a review. Best Eggs Benedict we’ve ever had. (Yes, better than in New Orleans) Two THICKLY sliced pieces of ham over two fluffy biscuits with two succulent poached Flora Farms duck eggs with Havarti cheese and hollandaise sauce. My wife got the Spinning Goat Benedict with sautéed spinach and cremini mushrooms. Both were to die for. Brunch is served from 10AM-1PM only on Sunday only.
New menu items are in the works right now. Denno also sells raw pizza dough at all locations and soon to be in grocery stores.

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