Growing up in a foodie family I have always sought out unique places to find amazing cuisine.
Even as a college student, with a super small spending budget, I would treat myself with a really nice meal as often as possible. Boca Raton had no shortage of fabulous restaurants. But one stole my heart and had the very best salad and salad dressing I have ever had—completely addicting. The ambiance was captivating and made you feel like you stepped into a different country. Lush velvet seating and opulent décor, the rooms were filled with pinks, golds and white. An elegant beauty tucked away in an unassuming stucco building in the heart of Boca Raton.
When we moved to Knoxville over 4 years ago, I was on the same quest to find an amazing dining experience. Something different, something that inspired you. Creative ingredients and stories that made the food taste even better because you knew how much love (and work) went into the production of each dish. I found it. One night we were invited to The Central Collective for a pop-up dinner with a chef I had been following on social media—Rebel Kitchen. The Central Collective is an amazing gem in downtown Knoxville that hosts an abundance of unique events, like Good Sport Night, where you purchase a ticket to the event, show up and then find out what you’re doing. On this night, they were hosting Chef Paul who was known for his “rebellious” cooking techniques and foodie concoctions. A super creative chef who plays with all types of textures, colors, ingredients and preparations. The menu was intriguing, the welcome was warm, and the company was fantastic.
It was love at first sight. Cliché but true. This creative foodie inventor made the most amazing Ramen soup and (maybe the best part) served it in the Styrofoam cups you probably ate from a million times in college. Chef Paul came out of the kitchen to tell the attendees about the dish and explained how they spent hours pulling the lid back just far enough to remove the contents so he could use the cups for his own soup. Genius. And, this amount of effort speaks to his love of food. The next dish is the reason for this whole thing. Chef Paul starts to tell his guests about the second dish. A salad with a famed dressing from this small restaurant in Boca Raton, Florida that has been serving French Cuisine for over thirty years, his parent’s restaurant, The Gazebo Cafe. The very same restaurant that had captivate me all those years before. In true Italian fashion I yelled from my seat in excited disbelief, “I’ve been there! And yes, the dressing is amazing and basically famous.” Thus the beginning of our foodie friendship began.
From there we attended numerous pop-ups at The Central Collective. Sought out to see Chef Paul at The Long Table dinner in Knoxville’s Old City, followed him and his wife to the opening of The Rebel Kitchen. And now, delighted about their altogether new concept with Table Forty9, a homage to Chef Paul’s mother. We scream from the rooftop about this incredible family. Their love, creativity and truly exceptional food. See what’s up next for their events or request a private dinner party. You’ll be enamored. And as far as that dressing… I am one of many trying to convince Chef Paul to bottle it.