An Unconventional View of Fruit: Sharon Popek’s “Wings of Fancy”

This June, we are pleased to host Sharon Popek’s “Wings of Fancy” in our Market Square art gallery. Her collection utilizes her talents in photography and photo finishing to give a different perspective on the ground cherry.

While subtle hues stand out to the eye at first, the black and white backgrounds are detailed with textures and interesting shapes. Although the some effects of the photo are created in computer programs after the shot, Popek tries to do as much work within the initial shooting as she can.

For example, Popek says she uses a shallow depth of field to create the bokah effect that looks like blurred lights in the background. Popek also views the camera is an extension of herself, and it follows her around everywhere, including a fateful visit to Market Square for the farmer’s market.

The subject of ground cherries came to fruition when she spotted a booth in the Knoxville farmer’s market selling ground cherries. She had never heard of them before, and their unusual look added to a sense of mysticism that Popek saw in the cherries. To her, the cherries look enchanting, and have inspired her next series evolving from “Wings of Fancy”, called “Fairy Lanterns”, which will be approaching finished by the end of the year.

Popek has lived in Knoxville since graduating from the University of Kentucky, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art Studio. She lives with her husband, five cats, and her dog. In her spare time, she puts her camera and computer to good use, doing photography and photo finishing. During the day, she shoots pet photography and produces photographs.

The exhibit will be in the Market Square location until the end of June, then it will move to the Kingston Pike location in July.


June’s Featured Brewery: Starr Hill Brewery

It’s a new month, and time for a new featured brewery. This June, both of our locations are featuring the Star Hill Brewery from Charlottesville, Virginia. Star Hill is growing quickly with their award-winning beers and a revamped, new logo. We will start the month with four selections on draft: Northern Lights, Grateful Pale, the Love, and the Reviver.

The Northern Lights is an IPA with a floral aroma. It is made with two row, caramel, Munich, and wheat malted barley. Star Hill uses ale yeast, along with Cascade, Willamette, and Columbus kettle hops. The result is an amber appearance that sits at 6.5% ABV, bitter flavor, and a citrus-floral finish.

The Grateful Pale derives its name from, as one might assume, the Grateful Dead. It is an APA made with two row, wheat, and caramel malted barley. This beer also uses ale yeast, but the kettle hops are Chinook, Centennial, Topaz, and Cascade. The Grateful Pale Ale rings up at 4.7% ABV with a light gold color and citrus aroma. This beer is not as bitter as the Northern Lights, but has a sharp taste, as pale ales do.

The Love is an unfiltered hefeweizen, which is a type of wheat beer. Star Hill uses two row wheat, and Munich malted barley. The yeast is Bavarian wheat beer yeast, and the kettle hops are Hallertau. With a golden color, sweet taste, and spicy finish, the Love is easy to drink. It has an ABV at 4.6%. This one is sure to be a favorite.

The Reviver is a Red IPA, and Star Hill’s spring seasonal. This is an interesting blend between a Red Ale and an IPA. It is made with Pilsner, wheat, crystal, and chocolate malted barley, and uses ale yeast. The kettle hops are Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe, and Columbus. The Reviver is also made with Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo dry hops.

As you know, June is a special month because it begins during spring and ends in the summer. In the same spirit, we will be swapping out the Reviver for Star Hill’s summer seasonal, Soul Shine.

Soul Shine, named after the Government Mule song, is an American take on a Belgian-style Pale Ale. It is made with Pilsner, wheat, and caramel malted barley and ale yeast. The kettle hops are Falconer’s flight, Simcoe, Cascade, and Willamette. The Soul Shine is also finished with dry hops, which consist of Falconer’s Flight, Simcoe, Cascade, and Columbus. The result is a golden colored, crisp beer with tropical fruit aromas and a spicy finish. The ABV is 5.2%.

Join us for pint night this month (June 26) to be among the first ever to try a new release by Star Hill. You’ll also get to keep a Star Hill pint glass. We are looking forward to these new beers from a growing regional craft brewery. Come join us on our patio to try the new pints and enjoy the warm weather.

starr-hill-brewery taproom

Denise Stewart-Sanabria as May’s Featured Artist

This month, you might have noticed a few really big pictures of food hanging on our walls in Market Square. They aren’t there to entice you, although they have pulled the strings of hunger for some of the servers who forgot to eat before their shifts. The large pictures of food are there as our art gallery for May. We have been very pleased to host the Culinary Drama of Denise Stewart-Sanabria.

The exhibit is a collection of Vanitas, or Still Lifes, which were art categories originally associated with domestic images that symbolized life and death. Stewart-Sanabria’s collection plays upon the same vein by acting out dramatic narratives inspired by human actions that entertain, amaze, or horrify the artist. Her use of color is very appealing, and the oil paintings seem strangely surreal, yet that if one could reach into the canvas, they would already know the texture of anything depicted.

Denise Stewart-Sanabria earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. Originally from Massachusetts, she has lived in Knoxville since 1986. Her work has been featured at the Ewing Gallery at the University of Tennessee, the Union Street Gallery in Chicago Heights, the 26th Tallahassee International at the Florida State Museum of Fine Arts, and many, many more museums, galleries, and universities. After seeing only this exhibit in our gallery, it is easy to understand how immensely wonderful her talent is.

It is hard to miss these almost pop-art images, but if you did miss them we forgive you. There is still time to see them downtown, as they will be displayed through the first few days of June, then move to our location on Kingston Pike for the month of June. Take your time looking at them, and try to decipher the human emotion behind each food prop. We promise not to look at you strangely if you’re standing in the middle of the restaurant staring into the food. It’s easy to be lost in good art.

Surrounded by Eggplants

The Exchange of the Knoxville Idea

Market Square is the place to be on Saturday mornings.

We are two weeks into the new season’s farmer’s market on Market Square. As one of the largest open-air fresh markets in the region, the farmer’s market plays host to local produce, food, live music, as well as arts and crafts.

The whole square is hopping, usually to the tune of jazz or big bands. Restaurants (like us) are open for brunch, often featuring items purchased from local vendors in the market. Vendors also sell homemade items such as clothing, soap, pottery, and woodworking. If you don’t like big crowds, then come down on Wednesday mornings, when produce vendors set up shop for a quieter day at the market.

The most amazing thing about the Farmer’s Market is that is an accessible connection to Knoxville’s history.

The support of communal bonds and fresh food is something that Knoxvillians have gathered around for nearly 160 years. Where Market Square stands today was once a building where farmers would gather to sell produce, and city dwellers came to buy their groceries. I’ve had people visiting our restaurant tell me stories of catching a bus to the Farmer’s Market with a pocket full of change that would be just enough for fresh snacks, a movie on Gay Street, and vegetables to bring home.

In today’s food climate, buying local food is healthier, fresher, and all around better than purchasing over-preserved vegetables from chain grocers. Not to mention, the money spent on produce, meats, and breads is remaining within our community, helping to sustain economic growth and jobs.

As Jack Neely put it, spending time and money at the farmer’s market “is an investment in the idea of Knoxville”. The Farmer’s Market is the culminating beacon of our city’s dedication to their neighbors that serves as a promise for up-and-coming community driven initiatives such as the Striped Light and the Knoxville Darkroom.

We support the farmer’s market because it supports our community.

Eating fresh strawberries, corn, and other produce is a perk that we also enjoy—and share on our menu. Remember that as the seasons cycle, so will the types of produce that are being offered. It’s important to return every few weeks if not every week, to see what has ripened. While you’re downtown, stop by to say hello. Stay and eat if you’re hungry.

Market Square Farmers Market Carrots Knoxville Tomato Head

Welcome Destination Imagination


Love it or hate it, she’s about to be here. I think most of us are excited, I mean after all she was the heartwarming judge on American Idol who always made us feel better by being kind when she told people that they had no talent. Yet her American Idol days are over. Instead, she has been lured to our city by some of the smartest kids from around the world.

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to the 8,000 students, 544 volunteers, and 17,000+ attendees that have descended upon Knoxville for Destination Imagination Global Finals. Teams from 17 countries are here to perform well-rehearsed main challenges as well as mysterious instant challenges. As a former D.I. Global Finalist myself, I sincerely mean it when I say, good luck. Outside of the challenges, there are many fun events around Knoxville, and interesting seminars such as a sound explosion workshop put on by David W. Collins of Sony/Lucas Film animation.

Unfortunately Paula Abdul isn’t here to judge the children, at least officially. Instead, she is here along with Dr. Bill Dorman for a Win Against all Odds Workshop, encouraging and instructing students in how to be successful in any career. Dr. Dorman, a famous dentist who has been featured on Doctors and started the LEAP Foundation, will also give a talk giving pointers in how to nail a job interview. These workshops are open to the public and details can be found online at the D.I. Global Finals blog.

We know how much kids love pizza and adults like craft beer, and we hope you like what we have to offer. We are certainly looking forward to your visit. It is always a pleasure to have a room full of intellectual people from around the world, especially if Paula Abdul is among them.

Our featured brewery for May: Black Abbey Brewing Company

We have a few new Belgian-inspired brews on tap for you this month by way of Black Abbey Brewing Company from Nashville.

Their work is inspired by monks, namely Martin Luther, his wife, and the Trappist Monks. Martin Luther advocated drinking for pleasure as he boasted his infamous, large stein. His wife, Katherine, went a step farther. She was known for brewing Wittenberg’s best beer. However, instead of brewing traditional German lagers, she created Belgian style ales with ingredients from her immediate locale. The tradition of brewing Belgian style ales with ingredients from their immediate surrounding was emulated by Trappist Monks in Belgium who brewed distinctly for their monasteries.

While Black Abbey doesn’t play home to Belgian Monks, they do host the character of brewing for their brothers (sisters and gender neutral family members) and for their neighbors with high quality ingredients in the Belgian style. We are happy to join in.

At the Tomato Head in Market Square, we are featuring four Black Abbey brews: the Rose (a Belgian blonde made with wheat malt), the Special (a traditional monastic Belgian Mild), the Champion (an American pale ale made with English and smoked malts), and the Chapter House (a Belgian red ale).

The Tomato Head located at 7240 Kingston Pike in the Gallery of Knoxville Shopping Center is serving up the Rose, the Special, and the Potus 44, a full bodied porter bursting with notes of Kenyan and Hawaiian coffee from the Frothy Monkey in Nashville.

On May 22nd, the brewery sends us their new summer release, the 5 points IPA. Make your way downtown or out West to join us for a Black Abbey brew and head home with a cool Black Abbey pint glass (while supplies last). This is an all-day event.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a Lutheran to enjoy these beers, just a follower of beer.

Black Abbey Brewing Company

Join us for our pint day at both locations on May 22.


In Honor of Guy Carawan

Many interesting people pass through our doors. One of our more notable regulars, however, were the Civil Rights pioneers, Guy and Candie Carawan. Six days ago, on May 2, 2015, Guy Carawan passed away, leaving Candie and their cabin in the Smoky Mountains.

People like the Carawans are truly a treasure to our community. He and Candie were long time regulars at the Tomato Head. Their visits were always delightful for our staff because of the friendliness of the Carawans, and we were truly honored to host them in our dining room.

Guy and Candie Carawan were active teachers in the Highlander Center in New Market, Tennessee. The Highlander Center, founded in the 1930s, served as a hub for both folk music and the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and ‘60s. The extent of the Highlander Center’s influence over the Civil Rights Movement was significant. Programs were designed to teach the importance of not using violence, how to protest peacefully within the rights of the law, how to organize and rally protesters, and much more.

Rosa Parks claimed that the lessons and community at the Highlander Center had given her the knowledge and courage to refuse to move from a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The center also trained members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), as well as iconic Civil Rights figures such as Septima Clark, Ralph Abernathy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In fact, Martin Luther King was a student of Guy in one of his workshops at the Highlander Center. Guy also introduced “We Shall Overcome” to the movement. He was also a folk musician who worked with other folk singers such as Pete Seeger. He is described by his friends to have been the definition of humility, a giving and caring soul, and to have truly believed in equality. His contribution to the Civil Rights Movement was powerful, yet his name is seldom heard. Myles Horton, the founder of the Highlander Center, once said, “You can do a lot of good in the world if you don’t care who gets the credit for it”.  Guy and his wife Candie certainly fit this bill.

Another friend we’ve made who has been coming to eat with us for many years, Knoxville photographer Dan MacDonald, has put together a slide show of photographs featuring Guy and Candie. Visit this link to read Dan’s memories of Guy, as well as see Guy smiling with Candie just before his health issues began.

We would like to say thank you to the Carawans for their impact on our nation, their strong moral character, and for blessing us with their visits for the past few years. We would also like to say thank you to Dan for putting together this memoir.

Highlander Rosa Parks

SUMMER 1955 Desegregation workshop at Highlander. Rosa Parks is at the end of the table. Six months later, her actions sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.



Striped Light at the Tomato Head

Now until May 3rd, the Tomato Head art show is featuring prints from two of the founders of Knoxville’s newest creative outlet: the Striped Light.

The Striped Light is a hands on printing press founded by Bryan Baker, Sarah Shebaro, and Jason Boardman that offers rad prints and ephemera from artists as well as print making classes and workshops open to the public. The Striped Light is also Knoxville’s newest record label, with a focus on signing local artists from our city’s talented music scene. Collaborative works by Bryan Baker and Sarah Shebaro are currently on display at the Tomato Head in Market Square.

After receiving a graduate degree from the University of Tennessee, Bryan Baker began teaching adjunct classes at UT and for Yee-Haw Industrial Letterpress. He has held workshops at Penland and Arrowmont, and spent a year at Clarion University in Pennsylvania. Baker moved to New York City in 2008, where he taught at the Center for Book Arts, helped run the Arm Letterpress in Brooklyn, and worked at a commercial printshop. While in New York, Baker set up his own successful print shop, called Stukenborg Press. Having success with his press, Baker moved to Detroit where he honed in on teaching the public how make prints. Now he has brought his passion for teaching talents for print making back to Knoxville.

Sara Shebaro also received a degree from the University of Tennessee, a Masters in Fine Art in 2008. Before that, Shebaro received her BFA from the University of Iowa, spent time in Chicago, and took a non-degree assistantship position at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. In 2009, Shebora relocated to Brooklyn for an assistant professor and technician position at the Pratt Institute Printmaking department, where she spent four years building up their print studios, in particular the letterpress facilities through donations of type, presses, and equipment. By the end of her tenure, she had facilitated a fully functioning type collection. She left Brooklyn in late 2014 to join Striped Light.

Jason Boardman, founder of the Pilot Light and software engineer and systems architect for McKay Books, has also been involved as a founder of the Striped Light. Boardman has been heavily involved in Knoxville’s music scene through the Pilot Light, a Music Composition degree at UTK, and his own career as a musician. In 2010, Boardman opened Hot Horse, a record and vintage store. Now, he is driving face behind the Striped Light’s record label that recently signed Knoxville band, Daddy Don’t.

If you miss the Art Show display in the Market Square location, do not fret. You’ll be able to catch up with them at the Tomato Head located on Kingston Pike from May 5th through June 1st. The collection is a unique set of playful prints that show off the talents of both Shebaro and Baker. If you’re interested in taking classes, using the printing press, or learning more about the record label, visit

Striped Light_IMG_9544 striped light flip flap flop

Tomato Head’s Buttermilk Biscuit with Benton’s Bacon, Avocado, and Rhubarb Marmalade

Who said breakfast had to be confined to downing hydrogenated breakfast bars or cereal and milk while juggling house keys, your bag, and trying to find your matching shoe? I often find that enjoying my mornings with a flavorful breakfast and warm coffee or tea can later make even the worst parts of my day much more bearable.

Furthermore, cooking up breakfast myself starts me off with a happy feeling of accomplishment and puts me in a much better mood. This recipe for buttermilk biscuits with Benton’s bacon, avocado, and rhubarb marmalade will be sure to set your day off in a positive direction.

For the rhubarb marmalade, you’ll need:

2 cups onion, sliced

¼ cup oil

4 cups Rhubarb, sliced

4 Tbl sugar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

½ tsp salt

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, then reduce the heat to low and sauté gently for 5 minutes. Add the rhubarb and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the sugar, vinegar, and salt. Cook the marmalade gently, stirring occasionally for another 5-8 minutes.

To make the biscuits:

We suggest using the award-winning biscuit recipe from last year’s International Biscuit Festival.

Split a freshly baked biscuit in half. Place cooked Benton’s bacon on the bottom half of the biscuit. Top the bacon with ¼ of an Avocado. Spread a generous amount of rhubarb marmalade on the top of the biscuit. Place the top back on the biscuit and serve.

This seasonal treat is great for making any spring morning a time to enjoy yourself or company.

Click the photo below to watch Mahasti make this delicious recipe on her WBIR cooking segment.

biscuit with marmalade

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design