Clarksville, TN – When she first started work as an instructor in the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Culinary Arts program, Chef Kelley Price, a former U.S Marine Corps Military Police Officer, thought she might be a bit twisted. Not in a bad way. She’s just easily bored and likes to mix things up a bit.
“I taught the bar service and bar management class, and one year, I said, ‘Why can’t we do more with the program?’” she said. “So we incorporated making beer and wine. That class now fills up first every time.”
When the class first started, Price didn’t know how to make the beverages. But a friend donated a couple of kits, and after doing her own research, and a little trial and error, she figured it out. Once she was able to teach her class the basics, her mind began wanting to twist things around again.
“I went in and started experimenting, making my own flavors,” Price said.
Why not add green apple flavoring to Riesling or develop a basil lemonade wine? If those sound strange, you should try her blueberry white merlot or melon berry pineapple cucumber wine. Price bottled her creations under the label Twisted Wines and submitted them to the Tennessee Viticultural Oenological Society’s annual winemaking competition.
“I entered one bottle, and I won silver,” she said. “That’s when I said, ‘This is pretty cool,’ so the following year I entered six bottles and won five – three golds, a silver and a bronze.”
Now, Price has 500 bottles of wine aging at her farm in North Clarksville, and sometime in the near future, once renovations are complete, she plans to open Twisted Winery on the property.
Discovering a passion
Even during her days as a Marine MP, Price enjoyed cooking. When she left the military, she often catered events for her husband. The couple eventually found their way to Fort Campbell, and when her husband left on his sixth deployment, she began looking for something to occupy her time.
“Our children were in their teens at the time,” Price said. “I said to my husband, ‘I love to cook.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you go to school?’”
“The instructor said, ‘When you graduate, how would you like to teach?’” she said.
Price finished the program early, and in the last five years, she’s worked for Austin Peay, helping to train budding chefs. Recently, she served an interim coordinator of the program.
The Brew Crew
Price prefers making wine, but at Austin Peay, her beer-making class also remains one of her more popular offerings.
“The students, they’re the Brew Crew – the APSU Brew Crew,” she said. “We change the beers we make every semester. In the summer, we do something similar to a cerveza, and in the winter, we do wheaty beers,” she said.
Students get to take home some of what they make, while their best drinks are used at a few formal Austin Peay State University functions.