By Tim Kearns
For our Eat, Drink & Be Merry issue I thought I’d talk a little bit about a cooking method I love - anything that involves FIRE! My thought is, that if you can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen or at least move it to the outside grill area. I know many Williamson County Southern Gentlemen who also use fire to create their entertainment atmosphere while they eat, drink, and be merry. With that being said, let me introduce you to a couple friends who have exceptional spots to create a great experience!
Charlie “Bubba” Brown is a Southern Gentleman that loves to cook and enjoy life outside and he certainly has all the toys and tools to do it well. A long time BBQ’er (with trophies to back his skills), you’d have a hard time finding another man who’s more at home in front of a fire. He has created many culinary masterpieces as his friends and neighbors will testify. A guy with Bubba’s talent needs multiple methods of cooking like using charcoal when he wants to slow cook that pork shoulder or brisket. He has a gas grill that he uses just as much, if not more than his kitchen stove, in addition to the side burner for pan-searing or sautéing. When he’s hosting a tailgate or cooking a dinner he has multiple options including; gas grills, a Big Green Egg, a Webber, an eighty-quart pot for a huge low country boil, and he even has a propane oven to cook breakfast biscuits in the middle of a parking lot at those early Titan’s games. Of the multiple dishes and entrees that Bubba has perfected, my wife and I enjoy his seared tuna the most. I would recommend it over anything you’d find in the very finest restaurants! Additionally, Bubba has created his own backyard entertainment playground to host parties and gatherings that includes a firepit, 60” flat-screen TV alongside a covered area to accommodate his impressive outdoor kitchen. I have spent many a memorable night during football season enjoying life, enjoying Bubba’s impressive food and extraordinary company!
Alex “GiGi” Gigliotti was born in Sersale, Italy which is found in southern Italy in the Calabria Region (the heel of the boot). Gigi immigrated to the United States with his parents as a child in 1972, on a boat called Michelangelo. This Southern Gentleman, who now resides in Franklin, has been working to perfect his magic with pizza. He loves to make his own sauce and dough from an old family recipe. He has been honing his craft since his teenage years working at pizzeria’s in Pennsylvania. His kitchen oven produced good pizza, but it didn’t give him quite the authenticity he was looking for, reminiscent of his childhood memories in Italy. So, what does a guy like GiGi do? He builds a wood-burning pizza oven in his courtyard, of course. The wood-burning oven took a couple of months to complete, creating just the right temperature control and wood layout to make the pizza crust exactly the way he wanted it. After a few adjustments and various methods of containing and controlling the heat, Gigi has taken the old family recipes up a notch to a point of perfection! On a recent visit to their home, Bess and I were treated to both a breakfast pizza with bacon and eggs as well as an authentic Italian specialty with Soppresata (true Italian sausage). His wife, Lynette, also poured us an Italian Prosecco that made for a delicious and memorable brunch!
Finally, I have a friend that put together a remarkable entertainment mecca that includes his love of golf, fires, and relaxing, all in one spot. Tom “Above Par” Lazenby, crafted a place to eat, drink, and be merry in a very cool way, right in his backyard. When it came to exactly how Tom and Susan wanted to transform their backyard, it merely evolved over time, starting with a porch, hot tub, patio, grills, fireplace and the piece de resistance - a beautiful putting green!
This backyard oasis has everything that one would need to enjoy the outside ambiance twelve months out of the year. Tom’s porch has automatic screens that can be lowered to create a beautiful enclosure; the porch is furnished with infrared heaters and a flat screen TV that can be enjoyed on a day when the temperature outside is below the freezing mark. For those beautiful, sunny middle Tennessee days when Tom can’t make it to the golf course, he just grabs a putter and works on his short game while enjoying an adult beverage and the smell of whatever he has decided to put on one of his many grills.
These three Southern Gentlemen are wonderful hosts that have taken the concept of using fire to both cook as well as entertain, to a new level. The common theme among these men as hosts, is that the outdoor setting is not a place for being in a hurry, it is also for enjoying and relaxing with family and friends. I am very lucky to have great friends who share their astonishing talents and unparalleled backyards with Bess and me to Eat, Drink, & Be Merry often!