Real Life in Louisville
Just One of those Days
Click to Read Chef Michael Paley Article
Appalachian News Express Dec 2011
Paley in the River City
Louisville holds significant sentimental value for me. My first job out of college was working in Extension as Assistant Event Coordinator for the Homemakers. That may not sound significant but consider this; we had a national convention in Louisville with nearly five thousand in attendance. It was no small undertaking. In fact, at that juncture in time our group was the largest to be served lunch on the Belvedere.
Growing up on the Ohio River, Louisville’s riverfront is where I feel most at home. I like the Galt House for that very reason.
On this trip, it was Charlie that chose our lodging….the Galt being in easy walking distance of the YUM Center where our NAIA Champion University of Pikeville Bears were to do battle with the Louisville Cards that evening. Charlie is “The Voice” of the Bears.
If you follow this blog, you know I am NOT a morning person. We got up before the sun to interview Claudia at Louisville’s famed Cake Flour Bakery. It was a fun interview. It was a great interview.
Stuck in Traffic
Louisville traffic is insane, and somehow we got caught in the wrong lane with police insisting we go across the river to Indiana during rush hour. Not a pretty sight, even for someone who loves to see the river. Traffic was a snarl. My blood pressure was up…..fearing we would be late for the Paley interview.
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally got back on Bluegrass soil, parked the car and because we were cutting it close caught a cab to Proof on Main. We got there with fifteen minutes to spare. But much to my dismay, the staff advised us the chef was not going to be in that day.
We walked the short distance back to the hotel, giving me time to vent. Minutes later, the phone rang. I still am not sure what happened but Paley was indeed sitting at the restaurant waiting. I have a few pet peeves. One of them is being late for interviews; especially when it’s with a busy chef who would rather be in the kitchen than talking to a hillbilly girl from Pikeville.
I flew out of our hotel room, not stopping to check my makeup, brush my hair and grab my scarf, previously flung off in a fit of frustration. I will not keep a chef waiting. I will not.
In the Banquet Room Proof on Main
Our interview started out tense. I blame myself. But as we talked, we found much common ground. Paley has been on the top of the heap of talented Louisville chef’s for several years. He enjoys the competition, but reflects upon reinventing himself and his menu to stay at the top of his game. It is the price of maturity. It is the study of “Vitalogy.” (See Appalachian News Express Article)
New restaurants are opening in Arkansas, and in Cincinnati….where he will be responsible for creating fresh menus. He smiles about the challenges…..and takes a deep breath.
Paley has just opened Garage Bar in Louisville, a casual eatery featuring a country ham sampler, fabulous pizza creations, and a wide selection of craft beers and Kentucky bourbons. A grin plays at his lips as he tells us the journey to get the restaurant open
We talk about Woodland Farm, the supplier of much of Proof’s and Garage Bar’s produce and bison. We wrestle with the concept of Mule foot hogs, a heritage breed. If they are “mule foots” are the kosher? We giggle at the conundrum. Paley shakes his head. “Not kosher” is his conclusion. We laugh.
The bright spot of the interview was Paley’s reflections on his family. The joy he feels just thinking about those loved ones lights the back banquet room as if the sun suddenly burst through stormy clouds.
I had the opportunity to go back into the kitchen with Chef. It was a busy day, with staff scurrying hither and yon. Paley inspects the scene, adding a few seasonings here…a splattering of olive oil there. He was in his element.
As he walked me back out, I gave him grief about his blue suede shoes. They rock! Giggles
Charlie and I enjoyed a perfectly lovely luncheon at Proof on Main. We sampled the bison burger and the house cured pastrami. The sodas, created in house were amazing.
Chef Michael Paley invited us to come back at night. He loves Proof’s evening menu. We’ll check out Proof and we’ll hang out at the Garage Bar. Maybe we will both find time to take a breather over a good pour of Kentucky’s finest.
Thanks for your time, Chef. The Pointy Toed Shoes Sisters are travelling to Louisville. Soon…very soon. You have been warned. Giggles