The South is all about palate. Preparation of the delectable is artistry. These ingredients--inspired creativity, intuitive food interpretation, keen attention to detail, commitment to quality, adroit decisiveness--combine to yield some of Tennessee's most talented, taste-tempting chefs. In our great state, we bow with gratitude to those who conjure masterpieces of culinary magic.
Carol Fay Ellison
Known as "The Biscuit Lady"
Carol Fay Ellison, the "Biscuit Lady," brings a smile to the face of everyone she meets. The youngest of ten children, Nashville native Carol Fay came to the famous Loveless Cafe in 1979, while still high school. One day, the cook called in sick, and Carol Fay stepped away from the sink and in front of the stove. Before long, Carol Fay became the keeper of the prized biscuit recipe and the only one who could make the famous old-fashioned preserves. Many of Carol Fay's coworkers came and went, but she stayed—never imagining that, one day, she would be the face of the Loveless Cafe.
Updated: – Apr 7, 2010
Tennessee lost one of its most charming ambassadors with the April 5 death of Carol Fay Ellison, the "Biscuit Lady" of Nashville's Loveless Cafe. Carol Fay's warmth, humor and kindness were symbolic of the characteristics Tennesseans hold dear. Her many appearances on national television turned legions of viewers into fans of Southern cooking and Tennessee hospitality. John Egerton, author of Southern Food, said, "She was bigger than life. She always had a smile. She was full of love. She always looked to the bright side of things." Carol Fay Ellison was only 48 years old and she will be sorely missed.
In 2003, the Loveless, in danger of closing, was saved by a Nashville native who understood the value of the cherished community asset. The new management also understood the value of Carol Fay. She knew all the secrets and tricks that made the Loveless what it was. She was the Loveless. During the reopening of the Cafe, when stress was boiling over quicker than a pot of grits, it was Carol Fay who always remained calm and smiling. It was Carol Fay who had the answers to all the questions; after all, she had done virtually every job in her 25 years at the Loveless.
Carol Fay is a rare breed. The values of hard work and dedication that she learned from her late mother reign true today. She even comes in on her day off just to make the next day's biscuit dough! Less than a year after the reopening of the Loveless Cafe, Carol Fay appeared in LIFE, Gourmet and USA Today. She taught biscuit-making techniques to Katie Couric and Al Roker of NBC's Today and Conan O'Brien of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, appeared on the Ellen show, showed Martha Stewart some Southern hospitality on The Martha Stewart Show, made biscuits on CBS's The Early Show, and faced off with Bobby Flay on Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Carol Fay is grateful for the chance to live life in a way she never knew existed— to travel the country, meet the stars and for once, feel like one herself.