Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2018 - 63
Reprinted by permission of Mercer University Press, excerpted from "The Proffitts of Ridgewood: An Appalachian
Family's Life in Barbecue," by Fred
"This blue cheese starts out as a big wheel," Larry
says. "A seven-pound wheel. When you tear that wrapper off of it and cut into it, it's got a powerful smell. We
take a big hoop of blue cheese and cut it into hunks
with a butcher knife. And then the kitchen staff will
take an old-timey grater and grate that stuff. Boy, that is
good," exclaims Larry as he scoops up a cracker full of
his father's invention.
NASCAR legend Junior Johnson agrees: "Well, the
blue cheese dressing, this is the first time I've really had
it, and I'll tell you one thing, I could set here and eat
that right there with crackers by itself."
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It's not unusual for the Ridgewood staff to make six
tubs of blue cheese dressing and have to make more the
very next day. Third-generation Ridgewood co-owner
Lisa Proffitt says some diners order barbecue sandwiches
and large bowls of blue cheese dressing and pour the
entire contents of the bowls on top of the sandwiches.
As for the recipe, it's a secret. Ridgewood manager
Ray Harrington reports that one customer drives all the
way from Knoxville for blue cheese dressing.
"And she tried every way in the world to get the recipe," Ray tells me. "And one day she came in and tried
to propose to me to get the recipe."
"In all seriousness?" I ask.
"Yes," Ray answers. "I told her I was happily married."
The rejection didn't put an end to her 2 ½-hour trips
to The Ridgewood.
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January/February 2018 63