Louisville Magazine

JAN 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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tailspinalefest.com 40 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 1.19 Edwards became a connoisseur of organic grains. He has used the Austrian-import wooden mill in his restaurant to grind the likes of hard-red wheat, soft-white winter wheat, rye and, surprisingly, corn. e wheat comes from multiple states, but Edwards sources his corn from Kentucky farms, as a way to engage Louisville chefs with an organic, locally grown crop. "I knew if I sold them flour they wouldn't know what to do with it," Edwards says, "but I knew that they knew how to cook grits; I knew that they knew how to cook cornbread." e freshly milled grits and cornbread mixtures are not real money-makers for Edwards, but MozzaPi sells them by the bag at the restaurant and also ships approximately 3,000 pounds monthly nationwide under the Louismill label. Local buyers of the corn-grain products include Proof on Main, Napa River Grill, Couvillion and Royals Hot Chicken. Edwards and his sister Lori Himmelsbach also put on a five-day Artisan Bread Camp, open to both professional and home bakers, teaching students eight different styles over the course of the week. Couvillion chef Paul Skulas buys the cold- smoked cornbread mix from Edwards and serves it to-order, baked in small cast-iron skillets. It's the Germantown restaurant's top-selling appetizer. "I think they'd boycott the restaurant if I ever took it off the menu," he says of his cornbread fans. Skulas got to know Edwards in 2012, when Edwards was a customer of his at the Anchorage Cafe. e two talk over the phone once a week or so about food and a range of other topics. According to Skulas, industry friends Andrew McCabe and Ryan Rogers, owners of bar Vetti, had Edwards over to taste their pizza when it was in development. Immediately, Edwards recognized the water they were using in dough was unfiltered. "He could tell the difference," Skulas says. A couple of months later, Edwards returned to bar Vetti to try a pie, then walked back into the kitchen and announced, "Your water tastes a lot better." In some ways, however, the baked delights at MozzaPi are more striking than the pizzas. ere's an astonishingly memorable cornmeal cookie; the corn's natural sweetness and just- milled freshness combine with a coarser-grained texture for a wow moment. e scones have an ethereal structure that ruins you for anyone else's versions. And the muffins and croissants are works of art. ough the pizzas ($8 for a nine-inch cheese pie, $12 for the specialty offerings) are both inventive and topped with the freshest of ingredients, it's the lightly charred crust that lingers to the taste. Edwards' pizzas are a distinctive hybrid between the classic thin-crust Neapolitan style and the more bready Sicilian style. e satisfying chew and rich flavor entice you to finish your meal with a few crust-only bites. Edwards has drawn enough attention nationally for his experiments with organic and specialty-flour breads that one of the biggest names in national baking circles, Peter Reinhart, lined up a field trip to MozzaPi for a group of International Association of Culinary Professionals attendees when they had a conference in Louisville a couple of years ago. "What I like about Tom is his commitment to values, to sustainability and to flavors," Reinhart says. "He has that sense of artisanship, milling and baking right there at the restaurant. He uses the grains respectfully and taps their full flavor in his bread-making. I remember that everything we ate that day was really, really good." Paramount to producing these distinctive products is finding and supporting the small farmers who grow organic grains. Edwards once asked around about the price of organic corn grown locally. He estimated a figure of approximately $8 per bushel. "So I went in to our farmers and I said, 'We're paying $16.' I took it double because I wanted to prove that you can have a respectful relationship with your farmers, pay them well, build great products for your consumers, have them enjoy them and have a good business," Edwards says. "He's very passionate about supporting the local economy and educating people to eat properly and take care of themselves," says Lori Himmelsbach, who participated in recipe development and has served as a general manager at MozzaPi. "I think it's one of the motivating reasons behind the restaurant: that he wanted to give people a place to come eat that supplied them with local and good food." Edwards and his team continue to bake bread one day each week, much of which is picked up by customers who purchase subscriptions to reserve their loaves. His wife drives more bread to Rainbow Blossom on Bardstown Road, honoring a longtime relationship with the natural food store's owners. ough Edwards has a degree in accounting from Northern Kentucky University, he keeps the ledger at bay when selecting ingredients. He purchases Chelsey's Eggs from Dutch Creek Farm in Pleasureville, Kentucky, where the hens rotate with the cattle in the grazing pastures. He uses high-end Stanislaus tomatoes in the pizza sauce. His chicken is free-range and antibiotic-free, and he sources the pork for the house-made sausage from either an Iowa farm where all of the feed is grown onsite or a farmer in Liberty, Kentucky, who lets his pigs root through forestland on the grounds. Edwards says his revenues are about $60,000 per month at the restaurant and that catering adds upwards of $100,000 each year. With the addition of dinner hours in 2019, the company

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