Getting To Know Chelsey Poling of Home Cafe and Marketplace! (Full Interview)

By Admin, BuyLocalBG.com, BuyLocalBg@gmail.com/
Tuesday, January 7th 2014 8:00 AM CST

We’re getting to know the Owners and Managers of some of our great partners. Today we speak with Chelsea Poling who with her husband Josh run Home Cafe and Marketplace:

1. Tell us a little about you as a person. Where are you from, what are your hobbies and where did you start your career that led to working at Home Cafe.

I am from Santa Barbra, California, but Josh tells everyone I am from Lawrenceburg, which I guess technically I am.  I am a trashy tv and magazine junky, Disney aficionado (we took our honeymoon to Disney World), and will pretty much go anywhere with Josh in search of a great meal.  I started cooking when I was 17.  My grandmother owned a 50’s style diner in Lawrenceburg.

2. What is your earliest memory of enjoying to cook?

Cooking banana bread with my mother when we lived in California.  We never had a lot of money growing up so nothing went to waste.  We always had bananas because they were cheap and nutritious.  When the bananas started to turn too ripe, we would make banana bread.  It was something I always looked forward to, so when mom asked me to help, it was a big honor.  I have four other sibilings, but cooking was always reserved as a special activity for my mother and me.

3. Home Cafe has taken a twist on many dishes, what style of cuisine is your favorite?

Anything Mexican, and I love it all: traditonal, tex mex, california mexican…if it has cilantro and tomatoes I love it.

4. Who are your influences in life and cooking?

In cooking no doubt Emeril!  I remember the early days of Food Network when he WAS the network.  That was back when they actually cooked.  I always admired how he made cooking entertaining and a spectacle.  You could tell he truly had fun in the kitchen.  I would sit for hours and watch his shows.

I also really admire the way Tom Colicchio had used his celebrity to improve the food system in general.  People often see him on Top Chef and think he’s just a celebrity, not a real chef.  Truth is he is undoubtedly one of the top chefs in America with several wildly successful restaurants.  He was buying from farmers before the term farm to table was even around, and more importantly  he works relentlessly to make sure kids have access to healthy, nutritious, delicious food and advocates for every child to have the right to school lunch.  I was a free lunch kid growing up, so I know how awkward it can be when people find out.  Tom Colicchio is pushing to start many conversations regarding how can we make sure every kid gets a school lunch and make sure they don’t feel guilty about it.

My biggest influence in life and in cooking though is honestly Josh.  He is the first person to ever push me and expect perfection from me.  Although I do not always appreciate his critiques and motivational tactics, he has pushed me to be a better person and a much better chef than I ever thought possible.

5. If you had to choose a last meal, what would you eat?

Cochinita pibil from the no longer in business Sol in Franklin, TN.  It was a pork shoulder wrapped in a banana leaf and slow roasted for hours.  They served it on a bed of poblano rice with pickled red onions, house made tortillas, and an out of this world mojo.  It was the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

6. How important are local ingredients to you?

Bowling Green is a big small town.  When I first moved to Bowling Green with Josh, I was annoyed by the amount of people he knew.  On the rare occasion we got a date night, it was quickly interrupted by others having conversations with him.  When we opened Home and started buying local, I began to understand small town life a little more.  For us it’s not as much about the ingredients as it is the relationships.  It’s about supporting the Howells and Vernons and watching their children grow.  Why would be buy from someone in Mexico when I can buy it from my friends down the street.  Now I know whenever Josh and I go out, we are going to run into people we know, and I look forward to it.

7. What has been your favorite of Bowling Green’s local ingredients you have used?

Off the top of my head three come to mind right away.  Need More Acre’s watermelon is the best I’ve ever had.  I can eat a whole one in one sitting.  Michael Webster’s raspberries are like candy.  Peacefield Farm’s eggs have ruined store bought eggs forever.  I know expect my yolks to be the fiery orange and full of flavor.  I had never eaten real eggs until they brought them to us.  Now I don’t waste my time with anything else.

8. Home is known so much for their specials. What is your favorite standard menu item?

The Sweet Willy.  I fought Josh hard to get it on the menu.  The sandwich and name pays homage to the now closed Giacamo’s deli in Lexington, KY.  Josh ran the deli when we first started dating.  I worked at a specialty olive oil store a few blocks away.  He would often have the delivery driver drop off the sandwich during deliveries.  It was perfect.  Although we have put our own twist on it, the sandwich is great reminder of our past.

9. What has been your favorite special?

The Nashville Hot Chicken on white grits with pickled watermelon rind.  It was one of the first specials I prepped completely.  It remains one of our signature items.

10. What other locally owned businesses in town do you enjoy shopping, eating or patronizing?

Mercadito Hispano and El Rinconcito are both crazy good…don’t leave without getting some cheese pupusas.  Spencer’s has a cool environment, but I’m not that into coffee.  When they draw a heart in my hot chocolate it brightens my day though.  440 will always be a specials place for us because it brought us here…I’m a sucker for the champagne chicken.  Dana at Panache Salon and Spa gives the best pedicures and manicures in the world, and no date night is complete without a mint oreo cone from Bruster’s Ice Cream. Oh!  An who can turn down Great American Doughnut Shop!?  The whole crew has an unhealthy obsession with GADS.

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