Tom’s son Ross sent The Lady and me some of their tasty Pimento Cheese Spreads a few months back and it was love at first taste. We discovered Tom’s Tiny Kitchen after The Lady read an article in the Memphis Business Journal.
Tom had been laid off from the auto parts’ industry and was searching for a new career. Friends were constantly raving about his pimento cheese spread, a recipe he got from his mom (like The Lady got her own special pimento cheese recipe from Miss Anne… must be a southern thing…)
Tom first set up a booth at a local charity event and sold out immediately. That was his acid test to give it a go and everyone in Memphis is thankful… Hopefully everyone in America cam someday also enjoy his spreads…
Spaulding: First of all, Tom, thanks for taking a few moments to answer some questions. We know how busy you and all our cheesemakers are and we appreciate you taking time away from your cheese…
Spaulding Gray: The Lady read about you in the Memphis Business Journal a few months back; but most of our readers probably didn’t. Please tell us about how Tom’s Tiny Kitchen came to be.
Tom Flournoy: A few years ago, I was laid off, and, being 60+ years old, it was difficult finding a new job. With quite a bit of time on my hands, I started fooling around in the kitchen. My wife is an amazing cook, and food has always been a passion of ours. I started doing a lot of baking, and eventually began to experiment with pimento cheese. It’s my mother’s recipe, but I started tweaking it a little bit and sharing it with friends. The feedback was tremendous — people really seemed to love it. So as a way to earn some money, I started selling it a local farmers’ market in Memphis in 2011. More and more people were buying it every Saturday at the market, and by September 2011 we were in our first grocery store. Over the past year we’ve been fortunate enough to build a pretty rabid following.
SG: Can you share with us the sharp cheddar you use? If you don’t want to answer this question, it’s OK…
TF: I’d rather not — trade secret!
Spaulding: Where can our readers currently buy your pimento spreads?
Tom: Right now, you can only get it in Memphis. However, we’re talking to a couple of national grocery chains, so hopefully we’ll be able to expand out reach shortly. We’re also looking into building out our website so customers can order online for delivery.
SG: Do you have any new spreads being developed that you’d like to share with us?
TF: Well, we just introduced our Chipotle Pimento Cheese fairly recently. Before that, we were just offering the ‘original’, as we call it. We’re got a few other things in the pipeline, some of which are not necessarily pimento cheese…
Spaulding: What is your favorite grilled cheese sammy?
Tom: My wife Jill makes an amazing one with our pimento cheese — both the Chipotle and the Original. Our pimento cheese as a GRILLED cheese is hard to beat. And of course, you have to use real butter on the bread and use a cast iron skillet or it just doesn’t taste the same!
SG: What is the most interesting “journey” you have taken to taste a new cheese, a new mac n cheese dish, pimento spread or any other comfort food? Did you make the journey without regard for personal safety or length of distance to find this food?
TF: Hmmmm…nothing too interesting comes to mind.
Spaulding: Which of your spreads would you pair with your local delicacy Accipiter cooperii ? And what local beer or wine would you enjoy with this pairing?
Tom: There are several fantastic local bakers in Memphis, so we like using locally made baguette or rye for pimento cheese sandwiches. There’s also a great independent grocery store in downtown Memphis called Miss Cordelia’s that recently started serving a sandwich called Tom’s Poppin’ BLT, which is a BLT with our PC. That’s a pretty killer sandwich.
Please note: The Lady and I are taking a hiatus from our Sunday Morning Series…, we have a project that will begin January, 2013… in the interim, we will return to reviewing cheeses we taste and other cheesy, fun stuff that catches our fancy…