Biscuit Lady Dies
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Carol Fay Ellison, better known as Loveless Cafe's Biscuit Lady, died on Monday after a 3½-week hospitalization. She was 48.
Ellison began her career at Loveless Cafe as a dishwasher when she was a teenager. Owner Tom Morales said she went on to become the face of the restaurant with her made-from-scratch biscuits and preserves.
The Nashville native competed against celebrity chef Bobby Flay on the Food Network's Throwdown! and made biscuits with Conan O'Brien and Martha Stewart, among numerous other television stars.
"Carol Fay embodied the best things that people think about Nashville — that we're a friendly, unique place full of talent," Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said. "She was a great ambassador for our city."
After several years working as a dishwasher, buser and line cook, Ellison started baking biscuits at Loveless in 1987. Ellison — who learned how to make biscuits by watching her mother — fiercely guarded her recipe.
She would say only that the recipe came from previous owners of the Loveless Cafe and that she tweaked it a bit by adding a secret ingredient.
Morales said that secret ingredient was love.
"She put pride in it. She put love in it," Morales said. "That's what made them so good."
'She was full of love'
John Egerton, author of Southern Food, said Ellison's biscuits reminded people of what they hold dear.
"She made biscuits that made people think, 'This is the way my grandmother or mother made them,' " Egerton said. "She called up the memory of what biscuits ought to taste like on a cold, frosty morning."
Morales said more than Ellison's biscuits, he was going to miss her smile and her hugs, which she gave freely to everyone.
"She was bigger than life. She always had a smile," he said. "She was full of love. She always looked to the bright side of things."
Angie Gore of Kaleidoscope Media said she was acting as a spokeswoman for the family, who did not wish to speak to The Tennessean. Gore declined to say how and where Ellison died, as did Morales.
Funeral arrangements for Ms. Ellison have not been made.
The recipe for the biscuits isn't gone — Morales said Ellison shared it with the staff.
And as cookbook author Daisy King said, "The biscuits can continue to be made, but they'll be made in her memory."