Food and good stories complement one another like Nutella and pretzels (just try it if you don’t believe me). And later this month, the first-ever Louisville Storytellers event will turn the spotlight on this entertaining combination.
Louisville Storytellers is a quarterly event from the Courier-Journalthat will showcase people telling stories around a particular theme. It’s reminiscent of The Moth StorySlam, a monthly storytelling competition that I host ever other month at Headliners Music Hall. But rather than randomly drawing participants from an NPR-friendly tote bag, the Louisville Storytellers show will feature pre-selected storytellers.
Anyhoodles, the first Louisville Storytellers will take place Nov. 16 at Actors Theatre of Louisville. The theme of the night is “Confessions from the Kitchen: Stories from the world of restaurants and food.” It’s an exciting bunch of storytellers:
I’m excited about the diverse lineup for Louisville Storytellers. It’s good to see a group of restaurant owners, chefs and cooks that isn’t just made up of folks from white-tablecloth establishments. I’m also super-pumped to see Miss Shirley Mae Beard, who I interviewed for Louisville Diners. If her story is anything like our interview, everyone will be in for a good night.
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 16 (refreshments and cash bar available at 6 p.m.)
I get to participate in a great event tonight, and I’m still struggling with the proper pronunciation.
PechaKucha Night will take place from 8-10 p.m. today, April 14, at the Tim Faulkner Gallery in Portland. PechaKucha Nights, which take place in more than 700 cities in the world, are “informal and fun gatherings where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, thoughts, holiday snaps — just about anything, really — in the PechaKucha 20×20 format,” according to the PechaKucha website. That format is a presentation of 20 images for 20 seconds each.
Tonight’s theme is “Food for Thought.” The line up is impressive, and I’m not just saying that because I’m one of the presenters. Scheduled speakers include Karter Louis of Hillbilly Tea, Edgardo Mansilla of the Americana Community Center, and Erika Chavez-Graziano of Cellar Door Chocolates.
I’m excited to participate in this event. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll be talking about one of the reasons while diners are important to the Louisville community (hint: there are sporks involved). I expect a lot of thought-provoking discussion about food this evening, which is right up my alley. Now, excuse me while I practice my pronunciation.
When: TONIGHT, April 14, 8 p.m. (doors open at 7)
Where: Tim Faulkner Gallery, 1512 Portland Ave., Louisville
All the exclamation marks. All the confetti. None of the pants. That’s how I will celebrate today’s release of my first book, Louisville Diners. Unless I pull a Harper Lee, I hope this is the beginning of a fruitful career in the publishing world. Louisville Diners is available online and in local Louisville retailers. You can also get the goods straight from me at upcoming events. Don’t see Louisville Diners at your favorite store? DEMAND they stock it (seriously, guys, let’s throw a few hissy fits and get this book to the masses). Let’s mark this special occasion with a couple of shameless self-promotions, yes? First, here is an excerpt from Louisville Diners. This little section comes from a section about the diners of Dixie Highway. Consider it an amuse bouche, if you will. You have to buy the book to get the whole meal. *clears throat* *lowers voice an octave to obtain a proper writer’s tone* Let’s do this.
Growing up, fast-food giants were the guests of honor at the dinner table every Thursday night. My mother worked at the beauty salon until 8 p.m. on those days, which was her one late night of the week. As an adult, the 8 p.m. cut-off time doesn’t seem too bad. As a kid, my mother’s late night stretched through homework time and snack time and TV time until it finally collided with bedtime. My mother needed something quick, easy, and portable to bring to the table before I had to go to bed. Convenience eclipsed local ownership. So the fast-food restaurants scattered along Dixie Highway, the main thoroughfare for my southwest Louisville community of Shively, became reliable dinner companions. My family’s omission of local Dixie Highway diners from our meal rotation was an understandable oversight. When I was a kid, it was a big deal when a major restaurant or retailer arrived on Dixie Highway, and an even bigger deal when they left. Not much has changed in 20 years. There are just as many chain restaurants as I remember – maybe even a few more. It’s still a boon for Shively and the other communities in the South End when a national giant takes notice of Dixie Highway and validates the buying power of this area. Big names in casual, fast-casual, and fast-food dining continue to take root along this roadway with the hopes of growing this region’s restaurant appeal. In the years of my childhood and a healthy portion of my adult life, the corporate signage was so big that I missed the perennial diners that give substance and pride to the South End. There is a lot of good, local eating at the diners that dot the Dixie. You just have to spot them amongst the abundant collection of chain restaurants, used-car dealerships, big-box retailers, cash-advance storefronts, and car washes that populate the roadway… Dixie Highway is long enough to put some space between these diners and let them nourish their own distinct communities of regulars. These eateries thrive in the shadows of their big-name competition by preserving the flavor that’s unique to this chunk of Louisville. Diners here have gained a clientele so faithful that fanfare follows renovations and re-openings on a level once reserved for the big boys in the restaurant industry. The food here is borne of necessity rather than innovation, but there’s also a healthy dusting of novelty and creativity…
Like it? Want to read more? To commemorate today’s book release, I’m going to give away a signed copy of Louisville Diners. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post that answers the following question: What is your favorite diner and why? You have until Saturday, March 21 at 12:01 a.m. to leave a comment. I’ll announce a winner Monday, March 23. Good luck!
Updated: The original question was, “What is your favorite Louisville diner?” However, our first commenter kindly reminded me that there are folks who will read this book that aren’t from Louisville. *face palm* So let me know about your favorite diner, wherever you’re located.
The Us Weekly was enough to make my Saturday a little brighter. Then I made it up the steps with my mail in one hand, my Chinese takeout in the other, when I saw a History Press/Arcadia Publishing box at my apartment door.
I’ve spent the past few weeks handling the business side of the publication of my first-ever book entitled Louisville Diners (brace yourselves, this is the first of many mentions of the book title). The work isn’t as sexy as you’d think. Writing is easy, but I’ve learned that you also have to handle your business like a boss.
So anyhoodles, a March 16 publication date had been floating around for a few weeks, but the arrival of my first copies from the publisher and confirmation of that date put everything into place. If I hadn’t been so hungry for Chinese and celebrity gossip, I might’ve dropped everything in my arms and ripped open the box right at my threshold. There was also an 18-pound terror terrier waiting for me who was more worried about a potty break than my debut into the publishing world. Eventually, I ripped through the box with my car key, jumped up and down without shaking anything to the ground, and shed a couple of happy tears as Roscoe gave me the stink eye for not leashing him up fast enough. I didn’t care about his judgement — a hard copy of my first-ever book was in my hands.
There is still a huge part of me that is having a hard time grasping that this book has happened. There is are two covers with words between them that I wrote. There’s a page in the back with my picture under about the author and I’m that author. It’s all so surreal. There aren’t enough hashtags to express all the emotions, but here are a few:
Now that Louisville Diners is in hand, it’s time for some shameless self-promotion. *clears throat, cracks knuckles*
Louisville Diners will be released Monday, March 16. You can buy it online at the publisher’s website, HistoryPress.net, and at retailers around Louisville. I’ll have a more solidified list of stores carrying Louisville Diners in the coming weeks.
Louisville Diners is about Louisville diners — the places, not the people. I wrote about more than a dozen diners in the area, interviewed some other food writers and community folks and got to know the people who make great, down-home food in our city. The back of the book says it best: “Packed with insightful interviews and helpful tips that only a local can provide, Louisville Diners is a delectable look into the best the city has to offer.”
My first official signing will be from 3-4 p.m. March 21 at McQuixote Books and Coffee inside the Tim Faulkner Art Gallery in Portland (1512 Portland Ave.) I will have books for sale and I’ll sign your copy with something rich and thought-provoking (just kidding, I’ll do this by the seat of my pants). Click here for more info.
Then, I’ll pack some snacks for a journey out of the county. I’ll be at the Oldham County Library on April 2 (the Mahan Library, 12505 Harmony Landing Lane in Goshen, to be exact) for a talk and signing. I love libraries AND I’m regionally friendly, folks.
Those are all the events that are set in stone — FOR NOW. In the meantime, the lovely folks at History Press will be convincing various local retailers that Louisville Diners is worth a spot on the shelf along with scheduling more signings and events. I also have a crack team of talented friends who are helping me plan a fun party to celebrate the book. Stay tuned for more details.
I’m still just shy of Oprah levels of a full schedule, so you can reach out to me directly if you’re interested in having my book and/or me pop up at your business. Just send me an email at ashlee [dot] eats [at] gmail [dot] com.
Now, it’s time to cozy up in my reading chair with my Us Weekly. Celebrity gossip waits for no author.
Last week, I turned in the final version of my manuscript about Louisville diners to my publisher, History Press. My book is called Louisville Diners, because life is too short to dance around the point.
The past few months have been brutal. I’ve never written so many words all at once in my entire life. I also discovered the true depths of my procrastination, which runs as deep as the ocean. I’ve panicked, worried, drank a lot of wine, and eaten my weight in Trader Joe’s organic blue corn tortilla chips.
But I did it. I wrote a daggone book.
I’m saving my true victory lap until Louisville Diners is published sometime next year. There’s a part of me that still doesn’t believe it’s all real. I need the book in my hands before I’ll let myself exhale.
I’m back to regular ol’ blogging now that I have my life back. I missed you guys. And we have so much to talk about.