Jeni + Ellen’s road trip: Louisville recap

Yesterday, Ellen and I were like two giddy kids before an adventure. We spruced up the RV, grabbing random pillows and rugs (and even a tea kettle!) from around my house, and we pointed the steering wheel south toward Louisville—a city with its own culture and identity.

610 Magnolia + Ed Lee

Stop 1: Surprising the kitchen team at 610 Magnolia with a pre-dinner-service ice cream social. Chef/owner Ed Lee took us around the corner to his greenhouse where they grow so much for the restaurant and compost everything. Ed’s from New York and took a huge leap 15 years ago to come to this city and start a new life.

He shared his origin story with us later that night over a glass of bourbon at his newest restaurant, Milkwood. And I was in awe of his story of resistance and endurance. It took 8 months before he had a full restaurant on a Saturday night. Some nights, only 4 people showed up. But he worked his ass off, and blew their minds. He gave them the best meal of their life. Makers and farmers and entrepreneurs live by this kind of mantra—even when all signs point to you quitting, dig in deeper. Keep going even if everything happening around you says quit.

Meet the Makers at 21c Museum Hotel + Woodland Farm

Stop 2: 21c Museum Hotel (contemporary art museum-meets-hotel in Louisville) for a Meet the Makers event. We set up shop in the lobby, scooped ice cream, and showed off Hedley & Bennett aprons.

Chef Mike and his crew invited us to a family meal at Proof on Main, the restaurant inside 21c. And this morning, Mike gave Ellen and I a tour of the restaurant’s partner farm, Woodland Farm, a 1,000-acre sustainable farm owned by 21c founders, where they raise livestock, buffalo, and vegetables for the restaurant.

All of this got me thinking about how art is unavoidable. But most people only see the finished the product, not the hours, days, and sometimes years of work it takes to bring this gift into the world. The amazing team at 21c Museum Hotel gave us a chance to see the process in reverse. We worked backward starting with the product (dinner) and moving to the provider (the farm) to understand the origin of what ends up on the plate. There are a ton of people behind the art and produce that’s created that most people will never see. It’s a special moment when you can get back to your roots.

Louisville, it’s been far too short! But we must pack up and move on. Catch Ellen and me next in Nashville. #IceCreamAndApronsForAll