On February 27th, Paulette's will leave its home of 37 years in Overton Square to take over Currents at River Inn. This marks not only a change of locale but also a shift from recipe-based cooking to new culinary leadership under chef Scott Donnelly.
"The owners at River Inn approached me the first week of December with the idea. It never had occurred to me before," owner George Falls says. "We've got a pretty aging building down there in Overton Square, and this is a good opportunity to start afresh. We'll use most of the artwork and things like that to give [the new space] the Paulette's atmosphere and use 75 percent of the menu."
The French bistro has had a successful recipe-based tradition. (In the past, Falls brought two different chefs from New Orleans, and neither of them worked out.) But Falls has confidence in the new model and the new downtown market. "We hope to draw our old friends who've been with us for 37 years and also have more clientele from downtown and the island."
Chef Donnelly will continue with his pure and simple style, working to harmonize Paulette's favorites with his particular technique. "I'm looking forward to taking an institution, the Paulette's classics, and fine-tuning them here and there, to bring them forward a little more," Donnelly says.
Paulette's will remain an upscale casual restaurant, with dinner entrées ranging from $18 to $29. They will serve breakfast at 7 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will open again for dinner at 5 p.m. Brunch will be served Saturday and Sunday. And of course, Donnelly will be serving up the restaurant's famous popovers and strawberry butter. "I think I'd be thrown in the river if I didn't," he says, laughing.
Urban Farms will host the first Farm to Table Conference for Mid-South Producers on Monday, February 7th. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., local farmers, producers, market managers, chefs, food advocates, and interested members of the public will convene to discuss developing issues in our food system. From improving market access to making markets more farmer-friendly, the conference aims to address a variety of problems and solutions in the farm-to-table process.
"I wanted, for my own personal reasons, to gather as many local farmers that I could in one area," says Urban Farms manager Mary Phillips. "I knew that I was going to benefit from talking to other farmers and learning from them and from their experience in this area. The more I talked to farmers, the more I realized that other people were thinking along those same lines."
Kimberlie Cole of West Wind Farms will facilitate a discussion on technology and marketing, and Otho Sawyer from the Shelby County Health Department will lead a workshop session called "Scales, samples, and shelled peas: What are the regulations at farmers markets?" Lunch will be catered by Trolley Stop Market, and a screening of The Greenhorns, a documentary film on new farmers, will take place immediately after the conference.
The conference is a product of months of work by Urban Farms and representatives from the Community Foundation, the Shelby Farms Winter Market, Knowledge Quest, the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Delta Sol Farm, and the South Memphis Farmers Market.
Phillips and company want to leave interested citizens with a greater message:
"I would hope the general public will walk away with an understanding of the state of local food in Memphis — what we have left to do for our movement, and an understanding of food security and food injustices in our community. Also, a knowledge of the chefs and restaurants and other sources for local food. If you want to create a local economy and buy local foods, you'll know where to go."
The event will take place at SOS at 2505 Poplar. Register for the conference (there is a $20 fee) with Mary Phillips, email@example.com or 417-1593.