Spaghetti, devilish eggs, peanut butter

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Chef Kim Wilcox has run her Knoxville restaurant for a decade, but she never began her career with the intent of making grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream for a living. Wilcox previously worked in television until one day she realized she was not happy.

“I’ve always loved cooking all my life,” she told TODAY Food, adding that this was her family’s love language. “And so I would say to myself: ‘Why don’t I do something that I really feel in my soul?'”

Soon after, she started her catering business and eventually bought a coffee shop in West Knoxville. Wilcox started out with simple sandwiches and soups, but their monthly grilled cheese specials quickly became a talking point in the neighborhood.

Wilcox poses in her restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee.Courtesy Chris Grove

“It was so popular that when we tried to take it away, people just begged us to bring it back,” she laughed. “So that’s how it came about.”

Of course, she followed each of her monthly specials that her customers couldn’t get enough of, and now, after a decade running It’s All So Yummy Café, Wilcox has published her own cookbook, “The Great Book of Grilled Cheese. “

She kindly agreed to share three of her best recipes with us.

Chris Grove

Probably the most eccentric recipe from Wilcox, their grilled spaghetti cheese has quite a back story and it all started with the rapper Eminem.

She was on her way home from an Atlanta, Georgia music festival rapping on his hit “Lose Yourself” from the 2002 movie “8 Mile”.

“His palms are sweaty, knees are weak, arms are heavy / There is vomit on his sweater, Mama’s spaghetti,” says the song.

Then came Wilcox: a grilled spaghetti cheese.

Peanut butter and grilled cheddar cheese

Chris Grove

“It’s so strange, but it’s so good,” laughed Wilcox at her peanut butter and grilled jelly cheese. “It’s so good because you get the creaminess and a little bit of sweetness from the peanut butter and cheddar, just a little bit of spiciness.

“That breaks it all up, you know the sweet peanut butter and it’s just amazing.”

Grilled cheese with devil's egg and bacon

Chris Grove

This reporter’s personal favorite, Wilcox’s Deviled Eggs Sandwich, came about because she recognized that most people “don’t make deviled eggs at home on a regular basis.”

“They kind of kept them for a potluck or a holiday, so we started selling them at the cafe,” she explained. “And it was so popular that one day I decided to find some kind of grilled cheese we could make that would have this ingredient that we have.”

She envisioned a “breakfast” sandwich and decided to just cut it up and add a few key ingredients – like her sweet heat seasoning, to give it a little kick.

“It’s a great combination of sweet and spicy, and it really just says the whole thing, is very, very popular,” she said.

As more people quit their jobs in search of happiness during this pandemic, Wilcox hopes people can learn from their experience.

“At some point I realized that this is not what I want to do for the rest of my life,” she said. “And I’m not getting any younger. And I would say to my kids all the time, ‘I don’t care what you do with your life as long as you’re happy with it, you know?’ “

Whenever she kept reading articles about people leaving their company jobs behind for gigs that made them happy – even if that could mean foregoing major paychecks or benefits – she took it as a sign.

“I would think I was getting messages and decided to just take a leap of faith,” she said. “You know, it was scary – you have to adjust a bit to the way you live – but it was the most fulfilling, exciting and fun thing I’ve ever done. I mean, it’s what I love, love, love and that’s really important. “


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