A huge statue of Buddha watches over the dining room at Surin of Thailand, although his peaceful gaze is subverted by complex curries, spicy stir-fried noodle dishes, and flavorful barbecue-chicken entrees a day in the making. Half chickens are marinated in Thai barbecue sauce overnight before being slowly roasted and grilled, then they’re plated with scoops of shrimp fried rice and reminders to chew each bite thoroughly, not matter who’s threatening to steal the flavorful dark meat.
Surin measures its dishes' spiciness on a three-pepper scale, where one is "spicy" and three is "Thai hot." Though most dishes fall between nonspicy and hot, a few earn their trio of peppers, including a medley of mussels, scallops, and shrimp with spicy basil sauce.
Another Buddha—actually, just a head—guards the sushi bar, where nigiri, sashimi, and creative maki rolls are born. Under the two Buddhas' protection, diners settle into leather seats or tuck into booths backed by ferns and foliage. Outside the stone-walled eatery, a patio seasons dishes with sunlight and refreshing breezes.
Rick Verastegui is a jack-of-all-trades. As a kid, Rick could be spotted marching around his yard holding a trashcan above his head, imitating either bodybuilder Charles Atlas or the neighborhood's most muscular garbage man. Although he eventually set the trashcan down, Rick never lost his passion for health. He carried that into adolescence and adulthood, earning a black belt in karate, playing football, and becoming a certified personal trainer.
In between all of that, Rick found time to earn his master's degree in business, plus degrees in Spanish, government, and economics—all of which he taught at some point. Still, fitness remained an integral part of his life. Rick expanded on his already lengthy resumé by becoming a nationally certified massage therapist, a skill he practices extensively at Unearth the Power. Rick also provides weight-training, stretching, and bodywork services, all while using his diverse background to connect with clients.
Jennifer McRoberts took a cake-decorating class that ignited an already present passion for baking. In 2008, she decided to open her own business, House of Cake, from which she sells a variety of handmade, hand-designed treats, such as birthday and wedding cakes, cookies, cupcakes, cake pops, and cake in a jar, shippable mason jars stuffed to the brim with sweet frosting, fillings, and cake bites. McRoberts also brings her skills to her kitchen at home, where she’s licensed to teach lessons in cake decorating.
In addition to cultivating a rich assortment of herbs, Erin's Meadow Herb Farm welcomes visitors into its greenhouses, fields, and classrooms to learn the best uses for its multitudinous varieties of herbs. Inside, visitors can peruse a variety of gifts and products made using all-natural ingredients, or drop in for classes that include demos, spa-centric herbal recipes, and the recipe for creating a love potion disguised as peppermint tea.
Locally grown fruits and vegetables fill Aubrey's Restaurant's menu across seven locations in eastern Tennessee. In addition to Southern recipes for buttermilk fried chicken and pulled pork, the kitchen also stirs housemade pimento into a savory dip and marinates chicken in lemon and lime. Old-fashioned patty melts and other sandwiches join pastas such as the Rattlesnake linguine, with grilled chicken, spinach, green peppers, and Southwestern alfredo that are charmed into stillness with the twirl of a fork. Desserts, such as the chocolate turtle cake with Hershey's chocolate and Breyers ice cream, help top off each meal.
To the cooks at Papa Dom’s, the line between entree and pizza is hazy. That’s because the ingredients in classic Italian and American dishes sometimes double as eclectic toppings for their pizzas, creating pies that emulate the flavors of chicken alfredo and philly cheesesteaks. The kitchen staffers also whip up non-pizza dishes, including lasagna and meatball hoagies, and bar snacks such as Southwestern egg rolls and potato skins. They allow guests to customize their wings, pizzas, and sandwiches with desired toppings or accommodate food allergies with gluten-free crusts.