Friends Drift Inn Farm – Real Life and Chefs
Bruce Bogartz – Good Eats in Tennessee
Jessica Behind the Wheel
Jessica and I are not ones to be late. We slid sideways into Rouxbarb’s parking lot with the gravel spraying like shotgun fire. If it really had been bullets flying we would have put a hole or two in the “Shack Out Back” where Chef Bruce Bogartz has been known to take a smoke; and I do not mean a cigarette. If you like your pork with hints of hickory smolder, hop in the car, put on some cool sunglasses, pretend you are Steve McQueen and hit the road to Knoxville.
We were in town for the inaugural Southern Food Writing Conference. Jessica is 20 years my junior and knows how to work a mobile phone. She is a lawyer by trade; a city girl who travels the globe wearing flip flops.
I am a woman with hot flashes. I need help to turn on my mobile phone. I live in a barn. I like to wear pointy toed high heels; sometimes I even wear them for a trip down to the garden.
Jessica and I have nothing in common and everything in common. Well when your world is food – that is “everything” right?
The dust was still settling as we giggled pulling jars of hillbilly wine out from under the backseat of Jessica’s SUV. Rouxbarb is a BYOB establishment; Knoxville’s city ordinances prevent restaurants seating less than 80 to procure a liquor license.
Welcome to Rouxbarb!
We walked in the front door with two minutes to spare. Rouxbarb Restaurant is what Garden and Gun magazine called a “joint” in their “50 Best Southern Foods” edition.
I’ve never been to a “joint” with white tablecloths; but hey the term does fit. Rouxbarb is a hang out with a little elegance, a little mystery, and a whole lot of character hidden beside the railroad tracks in the Queen City of the Mountains.
The hostess greeted us warmly and escorted us to the back. Perched on barstools with a clear view of the kitchen and with no room to wiggle, we tucked our elbows down tight and eagerly scanned the menu.
I do not trust skinny cooks.
I trusted Chef Bruce immediately. “If I don’t get you #&%*-faced and stuffed before you leave, I haven’t done my job,” he laughed in a hearty greeting.
I do love a southern chef! Bogartz’s personality is warm and engaging; if not a little irreverent. Teasingly he asked, “Will you order off the menu or will you let me cook for you?”
Honey let me tell ya, when two aspiring food writers are on the town, that question is just plain silly. Of course we let the chef have culinary freedom. Our mommas did not raise fools; and Chef Bruce needs little encouragement to get in the kitchen.
A source at the Knoxville Sentinel declared “Bruce Bogartz has the best palate in Knoxville.” I would probably expand that by several hundred miles. Fried pimento cheese beignets with apple marmalade and freshly pickled mushrooms were just the start of a grand evening of gluttony.
I could tell you about fresh baked bread with strawberry rhubarb jam. I could share my reaction to the succulent beef ribs drenched in red-eyed gravy.
I could quack you up with witty comments about the most amazing duck entrée.
I could make you weep with despair because you missed the best kobe beef flank steak EVER; marinated in Jack Daniels a Tennessee favorite. (I forgive you chef…I had to get in a little Kentucky dig!)
I could even wax poetic about the dessert sampler smoked praline pie, nods to citrus with lemon chess pie and key lime ice cream, rich creamy butterscotch banana pudding rounded off with pound cake festooned with fresh raspberry sorbet.
I could tell you all about it. That’s what food writers do; but dang it I cannot do Chef Bruce Bogartz and Rouxbarb justice in a short blog post.
If you want to read more foodie details check out
Better yet, get in your car. Grab your Ray-Bans. Head on down I-75 to Knoxville like your hair is on fire. Tell Bruce the Kentucky girls sent ya. He’ll feed you right.
Had a feeling you met Jessica before? She joined the Pointy Toed Shoes Sisters in Louisville at a Guerilla Cuisine Event.
Disclaimer: Jessica and I paid for our meal at Rouxbarb and we will do it again real soon! Giggles
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