This Ain’t Your Mama’s Grilled Cheese

April is National Grilled Cheese Month (who knew?) and to honor the occasion Mahasti is making a grilled cheese sandwich the Tomato Head way. Lets just say this ain’t your mama’s grilled cheese.

Tune in to WBIR on Saturday, March 20, around 8:15am to get the step-by-step on how to prepare a grilled cheese sandwich with roasted tomato jam, Benton’s Bacon and smoked turkey. The recipe for the roasted tomato jam will also be provided.

Or, if you’re more of an instant gratification type,  you can order it up on Saturday at either the Knoxville or Maryville location, served on the new Country French Loaf bread.

Why We are So Excited about the Big Ears Festival…

We received this message (see below) from Ashley Capps, president of AC Entertainment, the group responsible for the upcoming Big Ears Festival, and think he captured exactly why we’re so excited about Big Ears and why you should be, too. We hope to see folks come out for the event. It’s another thing that goes on our list of “great things about Knoxville.”
Dear Friends and Neighbors –

Last year, we launched a new and very unique festival concept in Knoxville called Big Ears. It was a relatively small event, but an auspicious beginning…with considerable acclaim from fans, artists, and the press, including the New York Times.

This year, the Big Ears Festival – scheduled for March 26 – 28 – has evolved into something truly extraordinary. I want to tell you more about it and what it can mean for our community. I hope that you will also share this with your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues who have a passion for creativity and the arts. There’s something here for everyone to experience and enjoy. I’d like to invite everyone in our city to “stick their toe in the water,” take in a show or two, and experience what Big Ears has to offer.

We have some of the most acclaimed and exciting musicians in contemporary rock…Vampire Weekend, the National, Joanna Newsom, the Dirty Projectors…

We also have important young “classical” artists such as Nico Muhly – whose first opera commission from the New York Metropolitan and the English National Opera was just announced…viola virtuoso Nadia Sirota…and the groundbreaking Calder Quartet.

Guitarist/composer Bryce Dessner – who curated much of this year’s Big Ears Festival – embodies the expansive vision that the festival aspires to…in the past month he has just finished recording what is poised to be one of the biggest rock records of 2010 with his band, The National…and he also was a member of the ensemble that recorded classical composer Steve Reich’s 2009 Pulitizer Prize winning Double Sextet. His chamber ensemble, Clogs, just released their most critically acclaimed recording to date, The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton. Their performance of this work at Big Ears will undoubtedly be a festival highlight, when they will be joined by guests Sufjan Stevens, Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), and Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner from The National.

And there’s Terry Riley, our Artist in Residence for the weekend, simply one of the most influential and visionary artists of our time …and we’re celebrating his 75th Birthday Year with a series of concerts during the festival.

This barely scratches the surface, however…you can see the full schedule and read about all of the great artists at and find videos/links on Facebook.

People from all over are coming to Knoxville. Fans are coming from Europe and Australia as well as throughout the USA. Writers from the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press…possibly the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Spin, NPR…as well as from such cutting edge music and culture websites/blogs such as Pitchfork and Stereogum…will be in attendance.

Why Knoxville? Why not Knoxville!!! For years, people have asked why Knoxville doesn’t have a major music and arts festival event, like a Spoleto or a SXSW. We believe the time is now. Knoxville has the perfect infrastructure – a beautiful historic downtown, two world-class historic theatres, a major University, a first-class museum, great clubs, outdoor spaces, and wonderful restaurants – all within an easy walk of one another. The vision of Big Ears was to engage these community resources, find synergies, and create an unforgettable experience. Now…it’s happening!

I’m especially thrilled at the opportunity to work with the great folks at the Knoxville Museum of Art, the University of Tennessee, the Square Room, the Pilot Light, the former Blue Cats/Catalyst and, of course, the Tennessee and Bijou Theatres in bringing Big Ears to fruition. And I must thank Regal Entertainment Group and Toyota of Knoxville for believing in Big Ears and making its growth possible.

The vital role of Art and Culture in fostering dynamic communities that support creativity, entrepreneurship, and economic development is being recognized by successful cities throughout the country. The need to attract, support, and retain the “creative class” has been at the heart of forward thinking economic and business strategies for some time now. I believe that concepts like the Big Ears Festival are an important part of making that vision a reality.

At Big Ears, you will not only hear some of the most imaginative and beautiful music being created today, but you will also be part of our great community taking another step in the realization of its tremendous potential for the future.

I hope to see you!


Batey & Cohen, Exhibit & Reception (Maryville)

Robert Batey and Dana Cohen presented their artwork at The Tomato Head’s Knoxville location throughout February. The month of March brings their work to the Maryville location of The Tomato Head and to the Blount County community.

All are invited to attend a reception, to be held on Sunday, March 14, from 5pm-7pm, to celebrate the exhibits and to meet the artists.

We hope to see you here!

Tomato Head’s Strawberry Brownie Sundae

Mahasti appeared on WBIR this morning (March 6) and introduced how to make a delicious Strawberry Brownie Sundae. Step-by-step below:

Tomato Head’s Strawberry Brownie Sundae

For the brownie:
½ lb butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1.5 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder

Line the bottom of a 8 x 11 baking dish with parchment paper. Grease the sides of the dish with butter.

On a double boiler melt butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Sift together the flour and cocoa powder and set aside.

Beat the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer for 4 – 5 minutes on high speed until pale yellow. Reduce speed to low and add vanilla. Gradually add the melted chocolate. Gradually add the flour and mix just until all the flour is incorporated. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is shiny and the brownie is puffed up.

Allow brownie to cool for 1 hour. Remove from pan.

To assemble sundaes:

2 cups sliced strawberries
¼ cup sugar
Hershey’s Chocolate syrup
Whipped cream

In a medium bowl toss strawberries with sugar and set aside until the strawberries begin to give off some juice.

Cut 4 pieces out of the brownies you just made. Place each brownie on a plate or in a bowl. Divide the strawberries evenly amongst the brownies. Top with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Top with whipped cream and nuts.

Julie Armbruster’s Doomed Mammals exhibit at The Tomato Head–March 6

(Knoxville, TN) – The strange narrative paintings of Julie Armbruster return to Knoxville this Spring, debuting at the Tomato Head Market Square location on Saturday, March 6th.

Drawing from three separate narratives, Julie Armbruster’s work exhibited in Doomed Mammals illustrates selections from the Potato Boy, Frog-Monkey, and DuckLips sagas. The three stories deal with volatile friendship, scientific mutation, and how to accept responsibility.

The show is a retrospective of the most recent events unfolding within these stories, revealing some interesting twists that are sure to peak your curiosity. The show will be on display at The Tomato Head in downtown Knoxville until April 3rd and will then move to the Maryville Tomato Head from April 4th- May 2nd. A closing reception will be held Saturday May 1st from 3-5pm at the Maryville Tomato Head restaurant. At the reception, Armbruster will have a limited edition book relating the story of Potato Boy and his pet duck Elmore entitled “Idealism Requires Patience.”

Julie Armbruster’s work has evolved to include much more intricate compositions and details. Her work is often realized through automatic drawing and then refined through layered rendering and delicate outlining. The landscapes seem oddly familiar and often directly reflect her surroundings in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. The world rendered in the paintings is set at a distance from the viewer with the addition of the resin surface and illustrative style. The shine and saturation of color give the work an inviting pull. The viewer is further entranced by the complexity of emotions conveyed by the characters that are often faced with some sort of weighty decision or traumatic occurrence. The narratives are realized through anthropomorphic characters that seem bewildered and internal. Her stories are both funny and dark and typically lack a straightforward resolution.

Julie Armbruster’s work can be seen on her website and in her hometown of Asheville, NC at the Woolworth Walk and Honeypot Boutique.

Julie Armbruster has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in galleries throughout the East Coast and Abroad, including the School of Architecture in Venice Italy, 80 Washington Square Gallery in New York, and Rebus Works in Raleigh, North Carolina. Often seeking shows in alternative spaces, her work has been exhibited in skate shops, bars, music venues, restaurants, and record shops. Julie Armbruster was born in Voorhees, NJ in 1979 and has lived in New York most of her life. She received a Masters in Painting from New York University in 2003 and has studied abroad in Italy and Germany. Following grad school, she moved to Asheville, NC and maintains an art studio in The Wedge in River Arts District.

7th Annual Leadership Summit

Friday morning and afternoon we’re serving up breakfast and lunch to the participants at the 7th Annual Leadership Summit in Blount County. It’s a special event, co-sponsored by two local organizations, Leadership Blount and the Center for Strong Communities at Maryville College.

The topic at this year’s summit is “Health Care—Redefined,” with a keynote address by Dr. John McKnight, co-founder of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute of Northwestern University.

We’re happy to be included in an event that addresses our community’s health and wellness and promise to keep making the healthiest, freshest food we can for our customers.

Breakfast Tacos

Mahasti’s in the kitchen at WBIR, Saturday, February 20, cookin’ up breakfast tacos with Benton’s bacon, scrambled eggs, cheddar, shredded lettuce, salsa and sour cream. Air time is roughly 8:15am, so tune in and watch if you get the chance. The tacos will be available for eats at both Maryville and Knoxville locations of The Tomato Head this Sunday, February 21. Get your yum on.

Love In a Box

I love to bake. In fact, I probably enjoy the act and craft of baking more now than ever before. In addition to experimenting with bread that uses mash from Scott’s forays into brewing, I’m spending a lot of time baking up sweet stuff.

Chocolate has an amazing power of making things right, especially when it is fresh and in cookie format. And nothing delivers a chocolate punch like the Chocolate Thunder—a chocolate cookie packed with melting white, milk and bittersweet chocolate chips. Mmm. These cookies dispel the rainy/cold day blues and when shared, they have a way of saying “I really like you” without ever uttering a word.

The Chocolate Thunders seemed like the perfect Valentine’s Day gift to offer in a cookie box–to give (or to give to yourself). Not too big, not too small, able to be enjoyed immediately as well as able to be shared.

We’re going to take reservations for these special Cookie Boxes (Love in a Box) up until the day before pick up. Deadline for Friday pick up is Thursday, deadline for Saturday pick up is Friday, deadline for Sunday pick up is Saturday. You get the idea.

Just call in a reservation to the restaurant where you plan on picking up. (865.637.4067-Knoxville, 865.981.1080-Maryville).


-ps-We make ‘em fresh so you can give ‘em fresh…so make sure to eat ‘em fresh!

Local Artists Robert Batey & Dana Cohen exhibit “Branching Out,” panoramic photographs of the Smoky Mountains


“Branching Out,” a group of panoramic Smoky Mountain photographs in hand-built rustic frames begins its Knoxville show on February 6 and runs through March 6. “Branching Out” will continue its exhibit at The Tomato Head Maryville location from March 7 through April 4.

Read about the exhibit from the full press release:


Local artists exhibit photographs of Smoky Mountains
January 18, 2010

“Branching Out”, a group of panoramic Smoky Mountain photographs in hand-built rustic frames by local artists Robert Batey and Dana Cohen, will be on exhibit at the Tomato Head Restaurant on Market Square in Knoxville, from February 6- March 6, 2010. A continuing exhibit will be held at the Tomato Head’s Maryville location from March 7-April 4, 2010.

The photographs were created by Sevierville photographer Robert Batey, for exhibits commemorating the recent 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photography was instrumental in forming the park 75 years ago. Batey has photographed the Smokies for fifteen years, returning frequently to experience familiar places in new ways. “Nature inspires my search for beauty and mystery”, says Batey. “Experiencing the world through the lens provides a meditative way to explore nature and share my discoveries with others.”

Robert and his wife Dana Cohen collaborate on building the rustic frames. Our “elegant rustic” designs are inspired by the Great Camps of the Adirondack Mountains, first popularized during the late 1800s. “Being a photographer,” adds Batey, “it seemed only natural to combine my original nature photographs with some of our designs for a unique blending of rustic and fine art.”

Each one-of-a-kind frame is hand crafted from traditional birch bark and native materials gathered here in the Smoky Mountains. “Our design process is simple”, says Batey. “Nothing is predetermined. We start with a pile of branches and twigs and then work out a pattern, an idea. It’s very much an intuitive, sculptural approach.”All of our branches are taken from fallen trees or thinned saplings from the edges of utilitycuts”, adds Cohen. “We even use Hemlock, cut from standing dead trees killed by the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. It gives them a new life.”

The artists, both trained as architects, have studied the rustic style from many sources, yet emerge with something unique. “We may start with an idea from a historic piece, and by the time we bring in our own style and use materials available, it becomes our own design,” Cohen says. Every piece is selected for its unique character, and its contribution to the overall design.


The artists enjoy working with homeowners and designers to create a one of a kind picture, entry door or custom piece for your home or office.
More information is available on their website at Robert and Dana
can be contacted at 865-774-5955 or

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design