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Five Things: MozzaPi Baker Tom Edwards Built This With His Bare Hands

Each week on Five Things, we meet a guest who has selected five physical objects that have been resonant or important in his or her life, and we learn about that person from those things.

Usually we sit in a quiet studio at Louisville Public Media. But for this week’s interview, I went to visit Tom Edwards at his business, the MozzaPi cafe. It’s a huge brick and wood space, with giant doors that open onto a peaceful wooded area.

So at various times in this conversation, you’ll hear a train going by, you’ll hear the cicadas and birds outside, and you’ll hear the whoosh of a massive fridge kicking on and then off again.

The cafe is just one part of Edwards’ constellation of businesses: he also owns Louismill, which mills grain into flour and grits, an artisan bread-baking school, and a catering business. But he sees his business ventures as more than just a way to earn a living -- he's got a bigger vision about the way we interact with food, with the earth and with each other.

On one of the books that influenced him:
"A book of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays, Self-Reliance. I had that book since I was really young. I've always admired the self-reliance mentality that Emerson had. I'd read them but really wouldn't understand them, but maybe I did. I've always had a philosophical side to myself, and tried to really be objective and evaluate my time here."

On his long-held least favorite vegetable:
"Beets taste like dirt to me. And I think it's almost a genetic thing, like you either like a beet or you don't. When we started this organic farmers' market, I asked [my wife] Lisa, let's see if we can just live off the farmers' market this year. Let's see what that means, how that works out. We had a budget -- I think it was 100 bucks for the week. So she bought all kinds of stuff for 100 dollars, and one of the things she bought was beets, because that's what was in season. They ended up on the dinner table, and I ate them, and they were fantastic. I don't know if it was knowing where the food came from, or just the freshness, but I liked them."

On designing and building the MozzaPi cafe over several years:
"I've had a lot of projects over the years with our personal residences. based out of my love for architecture and the craft and being creative. I've built several beautiful homes, and had the privilege to live in them. And the interesting thing that happened through that process was this: the one aspect that I wasn't happy about -- only one family got to use it over that time. So this latest building or piece of work, what's most important to me was that I could have a space that I could actually share."

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