Lincliffe, Mentorship and Pairings
By Janice Carter Levitch
The Horticultural Journey of a Football Coach
“The Great Gatsby” has always been a favorite novel of mine, and the afternoon I spent at the Lincliffe Estate felt like an immersive experience of Fitzgerald’s story. The garden party was hosted by Steve Humphrey, the estate’s owner, to benefit the Waterfront Botanical Gardens. The day included lunch and a Q&A with former University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley. Our delightful host had us in wonderful straw gardening hats and boots rather than fancy garden party get-ups so we could tromp around comfortably.
What made this afternoon so special was listening to Vince Dooley talk about his experience as a football coach turned avid gardener. Emcees Bob Hill and Terry Meiners led an informative and entertaining discussion, and listening to Dooley speak was a treat indeed.
“A football coach who talks gardening, you don’t run into this very often – it’s an interesting combination of elements,” said Meiners. “He spent a lot of years recruiting some of the most stunning athletes to play football at that incredible institution but then discovered his love of gardening.”
“The atmosphere, the food, everything is set up beautifully here under this tent on the front lawn of Lincliffe,” said Dooley. “My experience as a football coach has been thrilling, and gardening has really been a joy for me.”
After the Q&A, I wanted to jump out of my seat and run for a pass through the boxwood garden nearby (I’m not that athletic, but a girl can dream).
Lincliffe is a magical place, and I had the opportunity to chat with Humphrey about his own love for gardening and the property he maintains so methodically. When I asked him where he derives inspiration for garden designs, he mentioned traveling to great destinations. “When I traveled around the world, I would always carve out some time to spend a day looking at gardens,” he said. “I remember going to Owensboro and visiting their botanical garden, which made me think about creating a world-class botanical garden here in Louisville. Part of the lure for me to visit different locations is what kind of gardens they have. I needed lots of ideas to begin transforming the gardens surrounding the property here.
“The most important element – every gardener will tell you – is to plant whatever you fall in love with; just plant it and try it,” Humphrey continued. “(You should) especially use fountains so that you can hear the calming sound of running water. It creates a tranquil feeling,” he said.
“Pockets of surprises intricately placed throughout any garden also offer unique experiences for anyone looking for inspiration.”
Farm to Table Delights
It was an honor to experience the fruits of another kind of brilliance at Jeptha Creed Distillery’s recent Farm to Table Dinner. The menu, created by Chef Josh Moore of Volare Ristorante, was a power-packed delight of fresh ingredients selected from the Moore farm. The four-course meal (with each course better than the last) paired with Jeptha Creed spirits was a culinary journey that pleased the palate. My personal favorite was the duck egg pappardelle pasta with lamb ragout. It was beyond delicious.
With a down-home flair, the mood was relaxed as Moore explained each course in great detail. “Enjoy your meal tonight – all the ingredients are fresh and carefully selected to pair with the different spirits here at Jeptha Creed,” he said. The pairings were amazing, and as I experienced each course, it inspired me to try cooking something new in my own kitchen sometime soon.
Speaking of brilliant pairings, Vincenzo and Agostino Gabriele were honored recently by the Italian Cultural Institute for their years of mentorship and innovation. Several Louisville restaurateurs who were personally shaped by the Gabriele brothers gathered in the kitchen at Sullivan University to prepare a five-course meal in their honor.
Toast after toast was made, and each time, we enjoyed amazing selections from different regions of Italy.
“I want to thank everyone for being here tonight. It is my honor to have all of you as friends and that means the world to me and my wife, Pat,” Vincenzo commented with a smile.
“It has been my pleasure to be part of this amazing event tonight,” Agostino said. “We are happy to support the community and look forward to many more years to do so.”
The pairings were first class, beginning with Massillon Barolo served with Sicilian-style stuffed rice balls prepared by Chef Carmelo Gabriele. Chefs Dominic Serratore and Joe Bonura prepared the most delectable swordfish I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting paired with a strong Trebbiano. Chef Allen Hubbard hit the mark with the intermezzo of Granita with D’Avola. Chefs Dean Corbett, John Plymale and Finbar Kinsella prepared short ribs that melted in your mouth paired with an Amarone that was unforgettable. Closing the evening on an effervescent note, Chefs Nancy Russman and Debbie Richter made dreams come true with a puff pastry paired with a Prosecco.
Tickets to the dinner supported scholarships to two Sullivan Culinary students: Jessica Marcano, winner of the Agostino Gabriele Scholarship, and Sydnie Alexander, winner of the Vincenzo Gabriele Scholarship. The students will attend the 10-day intensive course at Bivero Pizza Academy in Florence, Italy, through their scholarships.
Time and again, I’m reminded of the dedication to mentorship within our community, not only rich on the culinary scene but in gardening and beyond. After events like these, my gratitude only increases for those both known and unknown who tirelessly mentor the next generation of innovators. VT