So what do the TV show The Chew, Chef Hal’s Chimi, and a Goo Goo Cluster have in common? Check it out!
Four-five months ago a friend of mine, Beth Sachan, the Marketing Director for Goo Goo called. If you haven’t seen Goo Goo’s award-winning rebranded packaging, by the way, or visited their retail store downtown, you need to go.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Goo Goos, in 1912, over on Clark and First here in Nashville, the Standard Candy Company made a “first” in the candy business. It was the first time multiple elements were mass-produced in a retail confection. The Goo Goo Cluster (a round mound of caramel, marshmallow nougat, peanuts and milk chocolate) was a bar that consisted of more than just one principal ingredient. Before the Goo Goo, candy bar manufacturers only made bars that were either chocolate, caramel or taffy.
Anyway, Beth called me one day and mentioned that they were doing a Summer Chef Series. There were 8 chefs chosen and the Goo Goos would not only be available at the retail shop but would be sold at our restaurants. In addition they would be served at this year’s Music City Food and Wine Festival. She asked if I’d like to participate and I responded, “Of course, I do.”
The first thing I thought about was my son Cole. I wanted to do something cool for him and I was talking to my wife about it. Stacy is sometimes a catalyst to a thought, or recipe or a menu idea. Anyway, she threw out the idea of using figs. I found that very interesting. It certainly wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind. I was thinking more along the lines of peanut butter and pretzels, but another chef in the series had already taken that combination.
So, I began some research, and it led me to a fig molasses jam. Then my brain started to think about the turtle candies that my mom had around when I was growing up. That led to pecans and caramel. And the recipe began to take shape.
I smoked the pecans here at Lockeland. We then made an orange scented caramel and we used a dark chocolate. As I am trying to work on my health, I have personally moved to organic dark chocolate as it has less sugar. We then used the JQ Dickinson family salt that we use and sell here at Lockeland, as it is from West Virginia. Putting a bit of salt on chocolate is always fun to do, and the fact that it originates from my home state makes me proud.
We submitted the idea and they accepted the combination of ingredients. The pastry chef, Lauren from Goo Goo, worked with me which was nice. Then they asked me to name it. I talked with Cara and Danny. Danny is always creative when it comes to giving things fun names. I wanted to implement Cole and West Virginia, thus we came up with a play on coal miners, and landed on Cole Miner’s Surprise. The name was well accepted.
Wine & Mine
Then Music City Food and Wine Festival came along. It’s such a great event—excited happy guests, eating drinking and enjoying music on a beautiful fall day. Lockeland Table was there doing our Strip, Chimichurri and pickled Cherry Tomato bite. Goo Goo was there that weekend as well. One of their featured offerings on Sunday was my Goo Goo. It was one of only two that were sampled at the Music City Food and Wine Festival
Carla Hal (The Chew) & The Chef’s Panel
Another highlight for me during the festival was the opportunity to sit on the Chef’s Panel that was hosted by Carla Hall, who is a native Nashvillian and is a featured co-host on ABC’s The Chew. Many people came to know her when she appeared on the hit TV show, Top Chef. The panelists included myself, one of my friends Carey Bringle (Peg Leg Porker), and Linton Hopkins (Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch Public House, and H&F Bottle Shop). Our discussion topic was The Best Meal I Ever Ate. Basically, defining what the meaning of a great meal.
Being with Linton was an honor for me. He has truly shown his expertise and quality in this industry. I already had a respect for him, as he is someone I have looked up to for years. It was humbling to be on a similar playing field with him that day and to hear him appreciate my thoughts and views. He made me feel that I was doing something right as a business owner, family man, etc. He made me better that day.
Carey was great, too, as he added a bit of a different outlook and the comic relief. Linton and I are more classically trained. Carey comes from a different angle on some subjects, as he is a Pit Master.
We never really said what our favorite meal was. But we talked about family, the socializing… That is why Lockeland Table is called Lockeland Table. Everything we want to happen around a meal usually happens around a table.
After that special experience, and a great day of serving our bite, I was able to meet Stacy and go to the Harvest Dinner. It was a beautiful night to be outside, enjoying food from the out of town chefs. The music this year was perfect. The theme of it had a soul, bluesy type feel.
Sunday of the event I was able to go back to the festival and just be a guest. I was able to have some one-on-one moments with people I don’t often get to see. Then, we all wound up down at Patrick Martin’s cooking arena, where local chefs had gathered and were cooking great food. It doesn’t get much better than that. All in all, it was a very special weekend, with memories that will stay with me for years to come.
– Chef Hal