Women entrepreneurs rule The Connected Table Live! Nov 5., 2pm ET/11 a.m. PT from Asheville, NC’s Moonshine Mom to Las Vegas’ Leading Lady of Restaurants. Tune in to hear their dynamic stories.
Troy Ball, Founder & President, Asheville Distilling Company, maker of Troy & Sons American Whiskey
CBS-TV called her “the Moonshine Mom.” In many ways it was family that drove her to distilling. As the mother of three sons, two with special needs, Texas native, Troy Ball, and her husband Charlie were committed to creating the best quality of life for their family. After living out west, they moved to Asheville, North Carolina, for the climate, hospitable small town feel, up- and- coming restaurant scene and easy going lifestyle.
Troy and Charlie were welcomed into the community with customary southern hospitality which often included a bottle of “keeper moonshine” (what locals keep for themselves and share with friends). Troy says “I was shocked by how smooth it was, and how complicated the taste was. Nothing like the throat-burning spirits typically pawned off on outsiders. I wanted everyone to taste and appreciate this white whiskey that is so much a part of our history.”
Texans are known for being bold, and in true style, Troy decided she wanted to make “keeper” moonshine. She apprenticed with some of the region’s best moonshine makers and searched Western Northern Carolina for the perfect strain of corn to make her moonshine, the spirit’s primary ingredient. Just outside Asheville, she discovered Crooked Creek Corn™- an heirloom open-pollinated white corn that has been grown on the McEntire farm for over one hundred twenty years. The corn had become virtually extinct everywhere except on the McEntire Farm…believed to be lost from Eastern Tennessee since 1840.
The end result is Troy & Sons moonshine, made using Crooked Creek Corn™ and locally milled Southern white corn, a true small batch handcrafted spirit that any credible moonshiner would drink himself.
Today at their Asheville distillery- visitors welcome- Troy and Charlie produce three spirits: Troy & Sons Platinum Moonshine, Troy & Sons Oak Reserve, a dark spirit mellowed in bourbon barrels, bringing forth flavors of caramel and sweet white oak; and Blonde Whiskey, a smooth spirit blended from rare heirloom turkey red wheat and white corn.Troy & Sons can be found in restaurants around the country and in local package stores.
Elizabeth Blau Founder & CEO, Elizabeth Blau & Associates
Many acknowledge Steve Wynn’s hand in revitalizing Las Vegas’ dining scene over the last two decades, but the other hand belongs to Elizabeth Blau, who combined her industry experience and impeccable contacts to transform “Sin City” into “Dine City.” Along the way, many restaurateurs and chefs have made their fortunes not at the gambling tables but with smart restaurant business ventures, many orchestrated by Blau.
Her company, Blau & Associates, est. 2002, provides restaurant development and consulting to blue chip companies like Celebrity Cruises, Destination Hotels, the Kor Group and One and Only Resorts, Trump Casinos, the Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts and Wynn Resorts to name just a few around the world. Most recently she oversaw the redesign and reopening of New York City’s legendary Rainbow Room.
Blau began her career with famed restaurateur, Sirio Maccioni. When Sirio expanded the renowned Le Cirque brand to Las Vegas, Blau’s insightful work caught the attention of Steve Wynn, at the time CEO of Mirage Resorts, Inc. Wynn personally recruited Blau to fulfill his vision of revolutionizing the food and beverage operations at his newest venture, the $1.6 billion Bellagio.
As Vice President of Restaurant Development for Mirage Resorts, Blau persuaded a talented and high profile group of chefs to join the company and the burgeoning Las Vegas scene, including: Todd English, Michael Mina and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. During her tenure at Mirage Resorts, Blau opened Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi, and began to modernize dining at the Mirage and Treasure Island. After MGM Grand acquired Mirage Resorts in 2000, Blau became senior Vice President of Restaurant Development, overseeing new restaurant concepts for the corporation’s many properties.
In 2004, Wynn again recruited Blau to join Wynn Las Vegas, a $2.7 billion mega-resort where, as Executive Vice President of Restaurant Development and Marketing, she worked with management to oversee 22 unique dining, bar, lounge and restaurant concepts. In the process, they assembled an all star team of “chefs-in-residence,” a revolutionary concept that ensured the name on the establishment matched the working chef in the kitchen.
Blau is married to Las Vegas Chef Kim Canteenwalla. Together they own the neighborhood hot spot, Honey Salt, and recently opened the American tavern, Made LV. She also maintains partnerships in several other successful Las Vegas ventures, including Simon Restaurant & Lounge with Kerry Simon and George Maloof and Buddy V’s at the Venetian with “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro.
Each Wednesday food and beverage industry insiders Melanie Young and David Ransom bring you the people who work front and center and behind the scenes in the industry on The Connected Table Live. Melanie and David are the Insatiably CuriousCulinary Couple. Connect: