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Table Talk: Cold weather, COVID and cleaning
Tomato soup and grilled cheese at River Oaks Restaurant. (Jennifer Biggs: Daily Memphian)

Tomato soup and grilled cheese at River Oaks Restaurant. (Jennifer Biggs: Daily Memphian)

Welcome back to Table Talk, where The Daily Memphian’s food and dining editor Jennifer Biggs sends the latest food news (along with a dash of this and that) to your inbox every Wednesday.

My daughter and her family live in Austin, where a big snow (all things are relative) arrived on Sunday. Snowball fights are unusual in south Texas, about as rare as someone who lives there calling Mom in Memphis for the best chili recipe. But both happened.

That recipe, which I got years ago when it won a chili cook-off where I was among the judges, was given to me with this title: “David’s Chili, Hot!”


It came from David McBride of Senatobia, who picked it up in the 1970s in Santa Fe (does that make it more authentic?). It takes a little time, but I think it’s the best chili I’ve ever tasted. Warning: Watch the heat if you take the chipotle shortcut; the recipe says a 3-ounce can is plenty, but it’s more likely too much. You can always add more. Taste as you go, adjust as you like. 

Intuitive cooking. That’s one of the lessons chef Kelly English is teaching in his online class. He’s not handing out recipes until after class because he wants his students to cook with feeling. More than 100 people signed up for the January classes, which are weekly, and he’ll offer it again in February; it’s part of our Bread & Butter series on how local restaurateurs are getting by in COVID. 


Beef Bourguignon and a salad from Dory’s takeout menu. (Jennifer Biggs: Daily Memphian)

I dusted off Quarantine Cuisine this week after a takeout meal from Dory, Dave Krog and Amanda Krog’s new restaurant that is not officially open just yet, though they’re hosting some private dinners and takeout has taken off. 

That doesn’t mean I’m completely staying in, though. On Monday night our measly snow found me craving comfort food. When I saw the photo of tomato soup and grilled cheese on River Oaks’ Facebook page, I knew it was for me. I’ve gone there often over the years, but this time I tried something that I would never have thought to order; read about it tomorrow. 


Gus’s is opening in Germantown. The Daily Memphian’s Abigail Warren tells us that the suburb is finally getting its fried chicken on and, wow, I wonder why it took so long. 

The Shelby County Commission has approved $2.5 million to help out restaurant and hospitality industry workers, who should be able to apply for $1,000 grants by the end of the month. Bill Dries had the story

Tom Bailey tells us that an extra $5,000 in EDGE grants are available to restaurants, too. It’s not a lot, but a little bit in the coffers might be enough to keep folks going until they receive their next round of PPP funds. 


Molly's La Casita owner Jamie Chapman (right) and general manager Kelly Johnson posed for a portrait in September. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian file)

A few more things: Molly’s La Casita is closed for now, but owner Jamie Chapman says that it isn’t closing. When it costs more under the current pandemic health directive to open the doors than to keep them locked, many restaurateurs are opting to stay closed for the moment. She says Molly’s will open again when restaurant capacity is increased and times are safer. 


Chip Dunham and I talk about what it’s like to open a restaurant during COVID, which he did with Magnolia & May, on this week’s edition of Sound Bites


After the pantry project (Jennifer Biggs/Daily Memphian)

Finally, I have a clean pantry. I can’t even explain how out of control it was, and it feels so nice to be able to walk in it again. Some things The Daily Memphian’s multimedia director, Natalie Van Gundy, and I uncovered: 28 tins of fish, from plain tuna to pricey octopus; roughly 30 pounds of rice, mostly jasmine, but some basmati, some arborio and a big package of black rice (I bet I planned to cook Ben Smith’s sea bass over black rice); 10 Costco-size bags of cheese crackers; and a whopping 60 assorted protein bars. Next up: the freezer. 

Eat well and stay safe this week!

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