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Local chef ‘redefines deli’

Deron Little, owner and head chef of Seasons Café, plans to redefine the deli with his new venture, Webster•s Deli Redefined.

From the theme of the restaurant to the food it serves, Little strives for quality and uniqueness.

“We wanted to focus on education and literary figures, like [those] we have all our sandwiches named after. It has been a cooperation between several people that came up with the name Webster•s and celebrating the written word. The menu is not really a menu, it is a table of contents,” Little said.

When picking up the menu, one of the first things one sees is the restaurant’s “thesis,” which states, “Webster•s Deli exists to celebrate food and fun, while rekindling a love for the written Word.”

Flipping through the menu, customers will find items such as the “Opus Contemporaneous,” or the chef’s daily soup creation, “epilogues” or dessert, and the “Redundant,” or yesterday’s soup “because,” Little said, “soup is always better the second day.”

All the sandwiches, which are served both abridged, a sandwich alone, and unabridged, with chips and a fountain drink, are named after famous authors.

Little and his staff have carefully paired each sandwich with its namesake and the menu offers an explanation as to the inspiration for each pairing.

For example, the Hemingway sandwich, which consists of sliced breast of turkey with a tropical mango chutney and brie cheese, pays homage to Hemingway’s love of the tropics.

The Milne menu, named after A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh, offers selections for children, such as the “Pooh,” a peanut butter sandwich with just “a taste of honey.”

Little said his passion for what he does drives him to seek out only the highest quality ingredients for use in both his restaurants.

“I brought in corned beef from New York, it is the same product that Carnegie Deli uses. The turkey has no fillers, it is a full muscle product, it is the best you can buy, and the same goes for the ham. For our roast beef sandwich, we use prime rib,” he said.

“We make very unique sandwiches, using the highest quality ingredients. It is almost a fusion style sandwich making.

“These types of sandwiches are very expensive to produce, but we are not going to lower our quality for any reason whatsoever; only the best,” Little added.

Little prides himself on his unique creations, such as Grilled Watermelon and Grape-fruit salad.

‘This is a unique creation we made up here. When you grill the watermelon, as the sugars come out, it caramelizes on the grill and actually creates a different flavor, then we put a sweet and sour vinaigrette over it.We have the normal fruit salad as well, but this is for the more adventurous.”

The breakfast menu has its unique creations as well, such as the Hot Breakfast Stuffer.

“That is an original. We take biscuit dough and roll it out and stuff it with meats, cheese, eggs and vegetables, then fold it over, sort of like an empanada and bake it fresh daily.

“We have the best pastry chef in the world, Michael Clark. He comes in every day at 5:30 a.m. and bakes all our breakfast pastries fresh,” Little said.

Webster•s also will be the first to serve Bubble Tea in Tennessee.

“When I was doing research on the Internet for the deli, I came across Bubble Tea,” Little said. “It is a drink that is very popular in the Asian markets. It has not made it to the states yet except for the larger cities like New York, Chicago and [cities in] California.

“We have several flavors of tea and we put these tapioca pearls, very large tapioca balls, in the bottom of the tea. They are very chewy, almost like gummy bears. It comes with a special straw and when you drink the tea, you actually suck up these tapioca pearls and chew them while you drink the tea,” Little said.

“No one else [here] has them. The younger crowd really enjoys them because they are different, and quite tasty,” he added.

Little said he wanted the atmosphere to mesh with the quality of the food and the uniqueness of the deli’s theme, so he commissioned a mural of a bookcase for the wall.

The hand painted books in the case have some titles that would be recognizable to most people, such as Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” and the Bible, but there are other, obscure titles that may be harder to place, such as “I am a Legend in my own Mind,” by Paul Aplan; the same Paul Aplan who is an executive chef at Seasons Café.

“I had some employees of Seasons and some very good customers name a book and have it [painted] like they wrote the book. It generated so much excitement. It was interesting to see the names of the books they came up with because they were things that were important to them.

“Seasons and Webster•s are about people and our employees and so it is neat to see them be a part of this,” he added.

Webster•s Deli Redfined is open from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For additional information call 865-675-3823.


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