Why Going to Work for PDSSN IS So Important To Me

As a collegiate soccer coach, I was always much more comfortable sneaking up on teams as the unknown. It was important that our team always went out on the field and had more heart and a stronger work ethic than our opponents. If the team left the field achieving those two goals, I was a happy coach and felt like I did my job. We might not have been the most technically talented team but we were still going to wear our hearts on our sleeves and in a lot more cases than not, we were successful.

Over the past two years, the soccer student-athletes at Salem College were on the NCAA quinnDIII collegiate soccer map. Our little women’s college wasn’t sneaking up on anyone anymore. The team had become respected throughout the South and everybody knew it would be very hard to beat us. This was culminated this past season, as we went toe to toe with the 2015 national champions.

Since we were on the map, I needed to find some new avenues to spread awareness. That is how the man van was born. I was able to go out in the city I love, Winston-Salem, and try my hardest to spread awareness and raise funds for organizations throughout our city. Whether it was for a dog that needed a home, a hungry family, senior citizens, or the homeless, I was going to do whatever I could (with the help of many through my social media platforms) to help out those with needs.

During my man van project a hunger grew in me and I began to realize this was something that I wanted to do all the time. I also started to connect with an organization, Piedmont Down Syndrome Support Network (PDSSN), who I fell in love with. I knew that PDSSN had a hunger to grow and get their name out in the local community to help support all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The mission of PDSSN is to ensure these individuals in the Piedmont are valued, included, and given the opportunities to pursue the fulfilling lives that they deserve. Their aim is to enrich the lives of individuals with Down syndrome so they can reach their full potential. These individuals have heart-warming stories to share.

When I met with the board, I knew this was the organization I wanted to go to battle for. It felt like a perfect fit. Their goals fell in-line with a lot of what I had done through my man van project, and together it seemed like we could build on the past work PDSSN had pdssn full color - FDE000 Yellow - 0D539F Blue - Favoritedone by providing more support and information to families throughout the Piedmont. Luckily, the board felt the same way and hired me as their second Executive Director.

With my experience fighting for the unknown at Salem and spreading awareness with the man van, I look forward to embarking on this new adventure. We have several lofty goals that the members, the board, and I won’t be able to achieve on our own. I love Winston-Salemites because they go to battle for a good cause. I look forward to spreading the PDSSN’s story so Winston-Salemites can fall in love with the organization like I did and help me fight for PDSSN.

Read More About PDSSN By Clicking Here

Ryan Odom: Famous Winston-Salemites

Winston-Salem is one of the greatest small cities in the world. Famous Winston-Salemites will feature some accomplished people that lived in Winston-Salem and now have moved on to do great things. All of the questions will be about their time in the Twin City.

Ryan Odom quickly became a household name across the country this March as he led the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) to the biggest upsetryan3 in NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament history. The Retrievers became the first sixteenth seed to defeat a number one seed when they upset the University of Virginia 74-54 on March 15th in Charlotte.


The victory quickly placed Odom on the map nationally as one of the top basketball coaches in the country. Though his national prominence happened rapidly, Odom comes from a well-known basketball family and a lot of his basketball background came from his time growing up in Winston.

ryan4Odom first moved to Winston in 1976 when his father, Dave Odom, was an assistant for Wake Forest. After attending pre-school at First Christian, his family moved to Greenville, NC and then Charlottesville, VA while his dad was an assistant at East Carolina and Virginia. In 1989, the Odom’s moved back to Winston for his dad to become the head coach for the Demon Deacons.

While his dad was building Wake into a national powerhouse, Odom was making a name for himself as a guard for the R.J. Reynolds Demons. He played three years for Coach Howard West, before heading to Hampden Sydney where he served as a team captain and finished his career as the NCAA DIII program’s all-time three-point leader.

Odom spent time as an assistant at UNC-Charlotte, Virginia Tech, American, UNC-Asheville, and Furman from 1997-2015. In 2015, he was hired for his first head coaching ryan5job at Lenoir-Rhyne in Hickory, after being an interim head coach at UNCC the previous season. Odom led Lenoir-Rhyne to the NCAA DII Regional Finals for the first time ever.

He was hired at UMBC the following year (2016) and quickly turned the program around. The team won the 2018 America East Conference championship, which earned them a NCAA Tournament automatic bid and the chance for their historic win over UVA. Odom was quickly awarded by UMBC when ryan7he agreed in principle to contract amendments. The Retrievers and Odom were also honored in Annapolis by the Governor of Maryland.

Odom and his wife, Lucia, have two kids, Connor (16) and Owen (11). You can read a remarkable story about the family’s and Connor’s battle and success dealing with OCD by clicking here. His parents recently moved back to Winston, after Dave retired from coaching, and they live in Buena Vista.
Below Odom answers questions about his time in Winston-Salem:

Winston-Salem Questions

Where did you live in Winston?
I lived right off Country Club on Fairfax. I still consider Winston and Charlottesville home.


Who were some of your favorite teachers?
I loved both principals at RJR, Mr. Deaton and Mr. Elrod. I got a little bit of both worlds with those two. I had a great coach in Howard West, and a great mentor in my assistant coach, Mike Muse. Mrs. Deal was another favorite teacher of mine.

ryan9What are some of your favorite restaurants in Winston?
The Halfway House at Forsyth Country Club. I loved to go to the Soda Shop at Reynolda Village for a hot dog and orangeade. The Village Tavern was another favorite and BLL Rotisserie is a favorite of my parents.

Would you ever consider moving back to Winston? 
Yes, definitely. I love Winston. It has always been great to my family. It is a great spot.

Where is your favorite place to go in the NC mountains?
I loved Asheville when I coached there. My wife went to school at Appalachian State. We still love to go to Boone and to Blowing Rock.

What about your favorite NC beaches?
Our family goes to Emerald Isle. We also love spending time at Wrightsville and Figure Eight.

If you could get one right now, which would you choose: Krispy Kreme doughnut, Moravian sugar cake, or Bojangles biscuit?
I would get in trouble if I didn’t say a Krispy Kreme doughnut. I have a friend from up North that swears by Dunkin Doughnuts. We definitely take the title on that one though.

Did you ever go to Ziggy’s? If so, what was your favorite band to see there?
Absolutely. I used to love seeing Jackopierce there. My friend, John Kenneth Moser, and I used to go there to see them. It actually was named after a former Wake Forest ryan10basketball player, John ‘Ziggy’ Ziglinski.

What was your favorite game at Wake Forest when your dad was the coach?
It was when we beat Duke at the Joel. Duke and Grant Hill tried to run the same long pass play they ran against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, but it didn’t work. I think it was the first signature win for my dad at Wake.

Man Van Hikes From Hanging Rock To Pilot Mountain

On April 21st and 22nd, I will hike from Hanging Rock to Pilot Mountain, NC (36 miles) in 24 hours (one day) to give back to six Winston-Salem charities. I will raise money for UNchain Winston, City with Dwellings, Hope of Winston-Salem, Yadkin Riverkeeper, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Moji Coffee and More.

Follow my training progression and the hike on my Facebook page here: Jay Callahan Facebook or @manvanwsnc on Instagram.

I have created a donation page. The goal is to raise $600 to be equally donated to the six charities before April 21st. You can click this link for the donation page:

I have cut the hike into six sections (approx. 6 miles), in hopes that I will have different people/groups join me along the way. The hike will begin on April 21st at 11:00 am, ending 24 miles later at 7:00 pm. We will pick back up at 7:00 am on April 22nd with the final 12 miles. Below you will find more information about the hike schedule and each charity.

Click For Hike Map

April 21st Hiking Route:

Moji Coffee and More Segment 1-11:00 am leave time-(No Dogs)
Elevation Climb: (750 feet)- Distance: 5.5 miles (approx.)
Directions: 1790 Hanging Rock Rd., Danbury, NC 27016 (Address)
Take US-52 NNC-66 N and Moores Spring Rd to Hanging Rock Park Rd in Danbury Turn right onto Hanging Rock Park Rd (destination on the right)
Hike Start Point: at the edge of the Hanging Rock State Park Visitor
Center parking lot, at the wooden Hanging Rock overlook. Note:
The visitor center has water, restrooms, drinks, and a small museum
of the cultural and natural history of the park area.

Meeting Spot for Segment 1

Big Brothers Big Sisters Segment 2– 1:00 pm leave time (No Dogs)
Elevation Climb:(Minimal)-Distance: 6 miles (approx.)
Directions: 1287 Charlie Young Road, Walnut Cove, NC 27052 (Address)
Take 52 North. Take the exit toward Moore-RJR Drive, Take Moore Road towards Charlie Young Rd. in Quaker Gap. Meet at Tory’s Den Parking Area
Hike Start Point: .2 miles from Tory’s Den Parking Area. This is where the hike leaves Hanging Rock and begins on Sauratown Trail.

Meeting Spot Segment 2

City With Dwellings Segment 3- 3:00 pm leave time (No Dogs)
Elevation Climb: (500 feet)-Distance: 6.5 miles (approx.)
Directions: State Rd 1187, Thore Rd, Pinnacle, NC 27043 (Address)
Take US 52 North, Exit on Perch Rd. in Pinnacle (exit 129), Turn Right onto Perch Rd., turn left onto N Old 52 Rd., Turn right onto Coon Rd., Turn left onto Volunteer Rd., Turn right onto Brim’s Grove Road, Turn right onto NC-268 E, Turn Right onto Rockhouse Rd.
Hike Start Point: the corner of Rock House Rd. and Thore Rd.

Meeting Spot Segment 3

Hope of Winston-Salem Segment 4- 5:00 pm leave time (No Dogs)
Elevation Climb: (Minimal)-Distance: 6 miles (approx.)
Directions: West Prong Little Yadkin River, Yadkin, NC 27043 (Address)
Take 52 North, Take Exit 129 in Pinnacle to Perch Road, Right on Perch Rd., Left on Old N 52 Rd., Right onto Coon Rd., Turn left onto Volunteer Rd., Turn Right onto Brim’s Grove Rd. and go 0.2 miles to Brim’s Grove Parking Area.
Hike Start Point: Across the Street from Parking Area at the start of Sauratown Trail Section 12.

Meeting Spot Segment 4

April 22nd Hiking Route

Unchain Winston Segment 5– 7:00 am leave time
Elevation Climb: (500 ft.)- Distance: 5.5 miles (approx.)
Directions: 1792 Pilot Knob Park Rd, Pinnacle, NC 27043 (Address)
Take 52 North, Take Exit toward Pilot Mountain State Park, Turn left onto Pilot Knob Rd., Destination on the right.
Hike Start Point: Across the road from Pilot Mtn. State Park Office Parking Area, at the start of Grindstone Trail. Address might not be exact. Make sure to meet at start of Grindstone Trail.

Meeting Spot Segment 5

Yadkin Riverkeeper Segment 6– 9:00 am leave time-Final Segment
Elevation Climb: (minimal)- Distance: 6.5 miles (approx.) (Dogs Ok)
Directions: Section starts at Pinnacle Hotel Rd. Parking Area inside Pilot Mountain State Park at the horse-trailer parking.
Hike Start Point: the start of the Corridor Section of Pilot Mtn.

Meeting Spot Section 6

End of 36 miles: (Estimated time is by 11:00 am to end hike)
The hike ends at the Hauser Rd. Parking Area.
Address: 618 Hauser Rd., Pinnacle, NC 27043
Take 52 North and exit at 123 toward King. Turn left onto Main St., Continuing onto Doral Dr./King Tobaccoville Rd, Right on Spainhour Mill Rd, Turn left onto Hauser Rd. and another left to stay on Hauser Rd.


About the Charities

Moji Coffee and Morehttps://www.mojicoffee.org/
Moji isn’t your typical coffee shop; they are a pathway for acceptance and opportunity. Located in downtown WinMoji-Logo-from-PDF-300x130ston-Salem, North Carolina, they are a non-profit business made up of individuals with IDD who have joined together to provide meaningful, fulfilling employment to those who often get taken for granted.

big-brothers-big-sistersBig Brothers Big Sisters, Inc.: http://www.bbbsnc.org/
Big Brothers Big Sisters helps children realize their potential and build their futures. They nurture children and strengthen communities. And they couldn’t do any of it without you.


City With Dwellings: http://www.citywithdwellings.org/
CwD-Logo-Updated-and-Polished-01They are an ecumenical collaborative working to end homelessness by creating therapeutic and transformative community. Established 2013 in Winston-Salem, NC.

Hope of Winston-Salem: http://hopews.org/
logo1-hopeTheir mission is to use community-wide volunteer support to prepare and bring nutritious weekend meals to Forsyth County’s 40,000 children who are at risk for hunger.

UNchain Winstonhttps://www.forsythhumane.org/unchain-winston
IMG_4220UNchain Winston provides compassionate and non-judgmental assistance to improve the welfare of dogs living with unending “chaining” and neglect in the Winston-Salem area.

Yadkin Riverkeeper: http://www.yadkinriverkeeper.org/
YPDRK_Logo-ApprovedRD3-2colorThe Yadkin River is the principal hydrological artery of the central Carolina region. The river is threatened by industrial pollution and poor management. Yadkin Riverkeeper promotes, protects, and advocates for the river and the communities that depend on it.

The Birth of The Man Van

The physical birth of the man van happened in a factory somewhere near the Great Lakes. You would think since the man van is a Volkswagen that it was physically built in das Deutschland. Actually, the Volkswagen Routan is just a Chrysler Dodge with a VW logo on the front and back of the van instead of a ram or wings . Who knew? I didn’t manvan2until two months after we bought it on a whim.

Some could argue that the ideological birth of the man van happened at a restaurant with some friends. We ate, we had drinks, and we talked about Uber. I went home, signed up, and the rest was history.

I would argue that the birth of the man van happened circa 2005, seven years before the VW minivan was even manufactured. One reason that the man van’s charity of the month for this April, ABC of NC Child Development Center (websitmanvan1abcofnce), is so important to me is because there most likely would not be a Callahan Clan (at least in its current form) without ABC of NC.


At that point, my mid-twenties self, was a part-time head soccer coach at Salem College manvan3(Go Spirits), and I needed another job. I spent my first two years out of college as an autistic assistant at Jefferson Elementary, while I was coaching soccer at local high schools. With my autistic classroom experience, I found out about this new school that offered autistic tutoring near my Ardmore condo that would fit perfectly with my soccer schedule.

Luckily Selene Johnson, who is still the Executive Director, hired me. I had been working a couple weeks when a tutor walked in one day who had been on vacation my first couple weeks. The minute she laid eyes on me she fell head over heels, and would not leave me alone (just kidding, more like the other way around).

We dated the next several months while we both worked at ABC of NC together. Eventually, I got a full-time job and Katie went to nursing school, but without ABC of NC we would have most likely never started dating. FINAL ubberingthroughwinston V1We were married a couple years later and started our family a couple years after that in 2010. So, in my mind, without ABC of NC, there would be no family, and hence there would never be a need for a minivan. `

I’m very lucky that I got that job at ABC of NC for obvious reason: a great wife and great kids, and this new man-VANing hobby I have. Winston-Salem is lucky to have a great organization like ABC of NC helping children and young adults on the autism spectrum reach their full potential.

Uberring Through Winston: Part I

In 2017, I plan to become an Uber driver to meet all kinds of people in Winston-Salem, NC and then write about them and my adventures. I will offer various challenges to my riders, and 10% of my tips will go to a different Winston-Salem organization each month.

When I got the idea to add the Uberring through Winston series to my blog, I had no idea that my first night would be so brilliant. I will never be able to forget night one of Uberring as my first ever pick-up happened to be an ex-girlfriend of mine from ninth grade, and my last pick-up of night one was a Famous Winston-Salemite and Hollywood star, Julianna Guill. It was like Zoltar from the movie Big granted me Uber adventures for night one and sent me to blog heaven. It will be hard to top and I am just getting started with these adventures.


I signed up for Uber on December 24th, and received a message that my background check and paperwork was clear and I was able to start driving on the 26th. That night, Katie and I got home from dinner and were getting ready to put the kids to bed, when I randomly decided to turn on the Uber app. Within two minutes, I had a message that a rider needed a pick-up. I gave the family a kiss and then ran out to the minivan.

The first pick-up was just a couple miles from my house, and after getting lost a couple times (the Uber maps aren’t the best), I found the right place. First a man walked over to the van that I didn’t recognize and then a pretty blonde lady walked over. The first thing she said was “shut the &*%&% up” as she looked in the passenger window. Hopefully I get that reaction a lot during these adventures, but only for good reasons. Shockingly, my first ever Uber pickup was one of my first girlfriends from the summer after ninth grade.

Courtney, Caroline, and Jenny

Jenny broke up with me after about a week. My maturity level now is still about ten years behind my age of 36, so you can only imagine what I was like at fifteen. I am sure she had plenty of good reasons. Jenny and her husband currently live in Charlotte. They jumped in the backseat, and after a quick detour to buy some wine at CVS, we stopped by to pick up another old friend, Caroline, who I ran track with for three years at Reynolds.

I took them to a house where I spent a lot of time during my high school years, where they were meeting up with several of their high school friends. I saw another old friend, Courtney, and met her husband and then I was off back to the house with four new dollars in my bank account and a great photo in my phone.

Once I got home, I went upstairs and Katie and the two kids were asleep in my bed and I was about to get ready for bed, when I got another message that a rider was waiting. I jumped in the van again and had four more pickups over the next forty-five minutes. The first two pickups were groups of four.


I picked up one foursome at The Beer Growler and took them to Burke St. Pub. They were talkative and actually spent most of the ride complaining about a guy I used to play soccer with growing up. Immediately after I dropped them off, I had another message from a block away at Mozelle’s. This foursome practically acted like I was non-existent until I got them to their house in Ardmore, where they did say thanks.

The next two rides were young women, who had jobs near the Mall area. I took each of them back to their houses. One of them recently received a DUI and is without her license for a couple months. She uses Uber to go to her managerial job, and to go home after work. She was incredibly friendly, and helpful with some Uber tips. The second young lady lived near my work at Salem College, and after I dropped her off, I started to head back home planning to call it a night.

I was driving down Robinhood Road, when I got another message since I forgot to turn the Uber app off. It was the same Buena Vista street where I dropped off Caroline and Jenny, and I thought it was them again trying to get a ride home. When I pulled up to the house, it was the house next door, where I also had been to a couple parties growing up.


As soon as Julianna got in the car, I said I had been to a couple parties at her house, and her first words were, “I am sure you have!” Julianna is a lot younger than me, but her sister, Lucy, was good friends with one of the sisters of one of my good friends. We spent some time hanging out with Lucy, and I am pretty sure she dated one of my good friends (I can’t remember which one).

Julianna has gone on to star in countless movies and television shows, and she also is a member of the band, The Girls, with Cyrina Fiallo (from the television show, Community). Julianna has starred in movies like Friday the 13th, Captain America: Civil War, and Crazy, Stupid, Love (with Steve Carell). She has been in countless television shows like How I Met Your Mother, Criminal Minds, and CSI. She is currently in a Hallmark movie with Vivica A. Fox called Summer in the City. 

Julianna in the minivan

Though she is a big-time Hollywood star, Julianna couldn’t have been any nicer and down to earth during our ten minute drive to Camel City Barbecue Factory. We talked about parties at her house, our dads working on the BB&T building in the eighties together, and our holiday seasons. I also hopefully convinced her to do a Famous Winston-Salemite blog, so you can learn more about her one day soon.

The building Julianna’s dad (an engineer) and my dad (an architect) worked on together in Downtown Winston.

After I dropped Julianna off, I cut the app off and went home with two hours of excitement and twenty-five dollars in my pocket (actually in my phone). I was too amped up to sleep when I got home and stayed up too late, excited for my next upcoming adventures in Uberring through Winston.

Some Uber tips I learned:

  1. Pay attention after you drop off a customer. I dropped off a customer near Ebert St. and then turned the wrong way and I think I was in Mecklenburg County before I figured it out.
  2. Carry candy at all times in case a kid gets in with their parent (thanks Richmond Hill).
  3. Don’t forget to swipe that you have picked up a customer. I was at CVS with Jenny and her husband before I figured out that I didn’t start the trip yet on the phone.
  4. You don’t get paid a ton driving around Winston (but it is worth it)! Also, I don’t think tipping is a mainstay for Uber passengers, so I might need to rethink how I can work out getting more money for charities.


Thank You Salem College Soccer

Dear Salem College Soccer Team,

I said during our last game that “I love everything about this team,” and I meant every word of that statement. I love my coaching staff and wouldn’t trade them for any coaching staff in the country. I love the determination and relentlessness of all twenty-six members of the team this Fall. I love the quirkiness of each member of the team and how each member, through their differences, fit together like puzzle pieces to make a dominant team.

This team wasn’t perfect, no teams ever are perfect. All teams have their ups and downs, but one of the best parts of this team was how easily you put the imperfections of the team behind you to merge together to have a stellar season.

The first husband of Salem College, Bert Lain, told you all that through his journey to nine different institutions, including two of the best athletic departments in the nation, UNC and Stanford, this version of the Salem College Soccer team was his favorite team ever to watch. Bert is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, and he knows what he is saying when he talks about the guts this team stepped on the field with every game.


There were some doubts at the beginning of the season how a team with only one senior that was joining a new sixteen-member conference would handle a season. Anchored by Morgan and the leadership of this team, everybody came together after a couple rocky pre-season games to put together the best season in school history. You can read this article to see all the great accolades this team has received so far (ARTICLE).

Players on the Salem soccer team don’t get the exposure you all deserve. Being in a city where one of the top men’s soccer programs in NCAA Division 1 doesn’t help, but you all continue to play hard for each other. We don’t have the same facilities as many programs in our conference or in the nation, but you all continue to play hard for each other. There isn’t a big crowd besides your families at the games, but you all continue to play hard for each other.


We have had great teams before in the history of Salem College Soccer that have achieved incredible accomplishments. Better than all of those accomplishments, we have great people that played soccer here and they paved the path for this season.

Salem College as an institution has the one of the brightest histories of any institution for women in this nation. What you all did this season is one of the greatest accomplishments a group of women has accomplished in the 245 year history of Salem.

This team defied all odds. You joined a new conference with sixteen members and won the regular season championship, which, to me, is harder than winning the tournament. The conference didn’t make it easy on you at all. You traveled more than twice as far throughout 2016 conference play as the team that traveled the second most in the conference, and over three times as far as most teams, but you still prevailed.

This program had never beaten Maryville College in our history, but you did it this year, and not just once but three times. Maryville was the New York Yankees of our old conference, the Great South. Nobody in the former Great South had won a game at Maryville since the early 2000’s until you all did it in one of the most exciting games I have ever been a part of as a coach or player. This team came together to put on a stellar performance in your first ever USA South playoff game to defeat Maryville and move to the USA South Semifinals.


We don’t get huge crowds as I mentioned earlier at home, but you all continued to be valiant soldiers protecting your home turf. Once again, we went 10-0 at home this season. This program now is riding a twenty-five game home win streak protecting the Salem soccer field. In fact, our last home loss was in 2014 to the number one team in the country and eventual national champions of Lynchburg.

In the USA South Final Four, once again, you all had the odds against you and you defied them by having to go on the road as the number one seed for the semifinals and championship weekend. Playing on turf was a bit like kryptonite to Superman for us this season and you had to do that during the Final Four weekend. We didn’t play our best game this season in the semifinals, but you never let your guards down and once again you pulled out an exciting overtime win.

Even though, we lost the championship game, the last twenty minutes were the best twenty minutes you all put together all season. Falling behind, 2-0, with 20 minutes remaining, would cause most teams to buckle, but you all stepped it up. We got one goal back with 12 minutes left.

Life is a game of inches where mistakes can be made, and our season ended that way. You all battled to the very last second of our season, and you scored the goal that should have tied the game and sent us to overtime, where there is no doubt in my mind that you all would have prevailed. Unfortunately, the referees made the mistake of missing the clear goal, which ended our season.

You can clearly see the white goal-line, then green grass, and then the ball with the goalie deep inside the goal.

Even without the tournament trophy, you all are true champions due to your character, your effort and determination, and your hearts. I am truly privileged to be a part of what you all did this season, and I can’t wait to see what you all can do together as you continue on your path as soccer players, tremendous students, and great people.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,


Lawren Desai-Local Winston-Salem Difference Makers

In addition to celebrating Winston-Salem natives that have moved on to do significant things outside of Winston, this blog will also celebrate local people who make a difference currently in Winston-Salem. 


When I started writing about local Winston-Salem difference makers, there was one I knew I wanted to write about from the very beginning, my big sister, Lawren Callahan Desai. I needed to establish my blog without being known as her brother first, but I always had September 19, 2016 in mind to finally do one on her, since it is her fortieth birthday. First off, happy “over the hill” birthday Lawren.

It runs through our blood to want to make a difference in Winston-Salem. Our family never expected Desai to come back to Winston once she left for college in the mid-1990’s. She was always a big city person, and that plays a major role in her desire to make Downtown Winston a great place.
Desai was born in Charlotte, NC in 1976 and moved to Winston as a toddler. She grew up in the West End on West End Boulevard for a couple years and then moved to Glade Street. Along with being an excellent student throughout high school, she was also a star swimmer for Sherwood pool and Reynolds High School. Desai graduated from Reynolds in 1994 and chose the University of Pennsylvania to study International Relations. Her move to Philadelphia was just her first move in a series of moves to some of the most well-known cities in the world.

Along with the “City of Brotherly Love,” Desai spent time living in Madrid, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn, along with one year working as an assistant in the School of Film at UNC School of the Arts. She moved back to Winston to receive her MBA at Wake Forest in what appeared to be just a transition before going back to a big city.
During her time at Wake, she met her future husband, Jigar Desai, who hailed from Dalton, GA. The two got married after they both received their MBA, and they decided to try to bring a little bit of the big city to Winston.
After they had their only child, Jake, Desai began to look into options for bringing a movie theater to Downtown Winston. It was a merger of what she learned at Wake combined with her love of movies developed from her time at UNCSA and in Los Angeles pursuing a career in film production. On January 8, 2010, Desai opened a/perture cinema in the heart of Downtown on Fourth Street.

Over the past six and a half years, a/perture has added two additional theaters to its original two screens. a/perture hosts events like RiverRun each year, and they have their own events like Art House Theater Day, which is coming up on September 24th. Desai travels to the Toronto Film Festival yearly to help find movies to bring to Winston.
Through her hard work, Desai, was the recipient of the R. Philip Hanes Junior Young Leader Award. The award recognizes someone under 40 whose time, talent and energy have furthered the mission of promoting the arts and culture in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, leaving a legacy of service for future young leaders and for the future of the arts in this community.

When I was in kindergarten, my dad had my fifth grade sister go out and protect me and a couple friends from an older neighborhood bully. Ever since then, I have looked up to my big sister, and with all she has accomplished, I really have to crane my neck to see that high up!

                                          Winston-Salem Questions:

Which Winston-Salem neighborhoods have you lived in?
West End, Ardmore, Buena Forest, and Downtown


What different schools did you go to?
The Hanes Park trifecta: Brunson, Wiley, Reynolds

Who were your favorite teachers?
Ms. Myrick-Kindergarten
Ms. Robby-Algebra
Mr. Hierl-U.S. History (Career Center)


What are your top three Winston-Salem restaurants of all time that are no longer here?Rose & Thistle
South By Southwest
Mayberry’s in the old location on Stratford

What is your favorite nickname of our minor league baseball team: Spirits, Warthogs, or Dash?


Are you more of a Hanes Mall or Thruway fan?
Thruway, but I hope pretty soon to have a third Downtown Winston option.

Are there any stores you wish would move to Winston? How about restaurants?
Stores: Anthropologie and Apple
Restaurants: A legitimate Spanish Tapas restaurant or a Shake Shack


Where is your favorite day trip outside of Winston?
Too many good ones-Hanging Rock, Asheboro Zoo, Pilot Mountain, Durham, Asheville

What is your favorite North Carolina Beach?
South Nags Head-mile marker 19


Where is your favorite place in the mountains in North Carolina?
I like to visit Asheville, good restaurants and music scene.


Did you ever go to the original Ziggy’s? What was your favorite concert there?
Yes-a lot in high school and then through the years until I moved. My friends and I saw Dave Matthews in high school during a snowstorm. Since it was snowing so hard, we had to get a parent to drop us off.

Could you ever imagine leaving Winston and if so, where would you go?
Not at this point. Winston is such a great base and traveling for the weekend, in country or abroad, is so easy from here.






Letters from Dad:McKinley’s 6th Birthday

Dear McKinley,

Don’t ever change! You will always be my favorite little princess!


Five was another great year for you and I can’t wait to see you continue to grow this upcoming year. This is going to be a huge year for you, since you start kindergarten just a week after your birthday. I look forward to seeing you continue to grow into a young lady. Right now, your favorite music is the Dixie Chicks, you really like Popeye, and playing with your dolls.


I have always heard that time goes by too fast with your kids, and this is definitely true. I can’t believe you are six already! Below I will share some things that make you such a special person and some reminders for the future:

You are a friend to everyone, keep it up!

For your pre-K superlatives, you were awarded the “easiest to make a friend.” You have always been very social with your peers. You will play with anyone that is willing to play with you, and you need to keep doing that. The only reason you should stop playing with somebody is if they are mean to you or others.

Keep being a hero to your brother:

Hudson is a wild and crazy dude, but he loves you to death. If some of your friends want to play without him, you already tell them no and try to include him as much as possible. Keep doing that. You two play awesome together and you are a great big sister. Keep looking out for Hudson and he will keep looking up to you!

Family makes you happy, and keep looking up to your mom!

Whether it is your cousins or grandparents, you love being with family. You also really look up to your mom. Keep doing that! She is a great role model.


You love our pets:

Just like your brother, you love our pets: Owen, Crosby, and Flo. The first thing you do when we get home is look for Flo so you can pick her up and hold her.


You are my little entrepreneur and chef:

At the age of five, you were already trying to make money and willing to donate it to charity. Whether it was a popcorn stand in front of our house or a vegetable stand on Fourth Street, you love to make food and sell it. You made a lot of money this year, and donated half of it to the Humane Society, where we got Crosby and Flo.

Just remember to keep being you and don’t let anybody change that. Love your family and pets, be a hero to your little brother, and do what you enjoy doing. You are already a great young lady, but you will always be my little princess.

Your daddy

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Dr. Brownstone’s Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival-All Six Nights

Tim Grandinetti and Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar asked me to blog on all six nights of the 7th Annual Dr. Brownstone’s Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival. Each night, I will have a different special guest attend the event with me.

Night One: Winston-Salem All-Star Chefs

Night one of the Luv Luv Festival was a new tradition for the event. Tim Grandinetti and Spring House invited ten local Winston-Salem chefs (complete list of chefs and restaurants below) to make small barbecue plates for night one’s guests. My special guest for the evening was my mom, Barbara Callahan, retired speech therapist extraordinaire and current beach bum.

My first guest, Barbara Callahan

“For me, this is the best way to start the Luv Luv Festival this year,” said Grandinetti. “A collaboration with some of the best chefs in Winston. I don’t think we can top this! All of the chefs are friends. If Winston-Salem is going to be a dining destination, we have to do it together.”

The six-day event is an outdoor grill-fest. “When I moved from New York, barbecue was hot dogs and grilling outside. When I got here the barbecue was an epiphany.  Tonight I have ten of my local chef friends, and the rest of the week I have chef friends coming from all over the country.”


Each night of the event features barbecue and a band. Night one’s band was the Thermatones, a soulful five member local band. As the band played, the guests were allowed to walk around from table to table to try out each local plate.

My mom and I started out the evening with some drinks. I had Brooklyn Lagers, while my mom tried out the bartender’s special signature Luv Luv cocktail, which mixed Chambord, Absolut Vanilla Rasberry, blueberries, lemonade, soda, and mint.

Luv Luv cocktail

Kim McDonald, who grew up in Kernersville and currently lives in Belew’s Creek, was at the event with her husband for their fourth straight year. “Luv Luv is wonderful! You get to try new things that you normally wouldn’t try. There is a neat spin on food that gives you a new light on different recipes,” said McDonald.

The event features a People’s Choice Award voted on by the guests, and a grand prize winner selected by a group of local celebrities. Chef Alexandria Caesar from Vin205 Wine Bar was selected as the People’s Choice Award. Chef Chris Fulk from Quanta Basta came in third and Meridian’s Chef  Mark Grohman came in second for the grand prize, while Chef Travis Myers from Willow Bistro won the overall grand prize in the friendly competition.

Grohman (Meridian) has been cooking at Luv Luv from the beginning of the festival. “I have been here since the first one. It is always fun, with a great crowd, great food, and definitely a great vibe,” said Grohman.


Local orthodontist, Sarah Shoaf from Salem Shines, and her husband have been attending the event since year one as guests. They plan to be at all six nights this year. “It is wonderful what different things chefs can do with the same ingredients,” said Shoaf.

Night two will feature a seated dinner cooked by Chef Will Pelly from St. Louis, Missouri. My guest for the evening will be President Lorraine Sterritt from Salem Academy and College.


Chefs from night one: Greg Rollins from Graylyn Conference Center, Shane Moore from Foothills Brewing, Travis Myers from Willow’s Bistro, Mark Grohman from Meridian, Chris Fulk from Quanto Basta, Jared Tipton from Spring House, John and Buddy Milner from Milner’s American Southern, Mark Little from Bib’s BBQ, Jeff Bacon from Providence Restaurant, and Alexandria Caesar from Vin205.

Night Two: Salem President Lorraine Sterritt and Chef Wil Pelly

Salem Academy & College President Lorraine Sterritt joined me on night two of Spring House’s Dr. Brownstone’s Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival to enjoy food made by Chef Wil Pelly from St. Louis, Missouri. The heavy rains didn’t dampen the mood, even though the wait staff was soaked from delivering the food from the “Belly of the Beast” to the tent filled with guests.

Chef Pelly with Chef Tim Grandinetti

Pelly’s menu featured a Brazilian themed plate to go with the Summer Olympics, and a plate from Cuba. Night one was small plates from several different local chefs, while night two was a seated dinner.

Chef Pelly with Chef Tim Grandinetti

President Sterritt and I had a lot of time to talk in between plates, all while we enjoyed the local band of the evening, Peace Train. I found out a lot about her homeland, Northern Ireland, that I didn’t know about previous to the dinner. I taught her some of my knowledge on Winston-Salem throughout the meal.

President Lorraine Sterritt

The first plate was a surprise as it was not on the menu and featured shrimp and meatballs. The second plate was chips and dip. The chips were made from lotus, taro, and plantain, while the dip was smoked black garlic chimichurri.

Local lawyer and appliance wizard, Wake Wagner, and his wife, Katie, sat with us at the same table. The couple came to one evening last year at the Luv Luv Festival, and couldn’t wait to get back this year. “Good food, a good time, even with the rain coming down,” said Wagner.

In between the second and third plate, we had a small cup of black bean soup. The third plate was a Cuban cigar. This was a wrap with smoked pork, ham, citrus, garlic, gruyere, quick pickle, Dijon, and phyllo. By this point of the evening, I was starting to get full. My plan for the whole week is to eat as little for lunch as possible so I have enough room for everything at Luv Luv. While we were waiting for the final plate, dessert, several attendees enjoyed shots off of the custom-made knife shot-board.

The dessert was called “Flan me over the Moon,” and was a vanilla custard with caramel and was topped with the candy, Pop Rocks, all on a popsicle stick. Just like night one, the second night was a success.

I saw several familiar faces from night one, and even more new faces there for their first night of the event. Here is to tonight (night three), when I will be joined by Aubrey Linville from Linville Team Partners.


I am starting to get stuffed after three nights at Dr. Brownstone’s Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival. Last night the rains held off, and I was accompanied by Aubrey Linville from Linville Team Partners.  He just got back from a trip around California. Linville and his wife Holli plan to take both of their kids (and eventual grandkids) on a summer trip to all fifty states in fifty years. They are six states in after California. We sat in the “Belly of the Beast,” which meant more great food including three additional plates.

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Aubrey Linville

Chef Kurtis Jantz and Chef Fabian Di Paolo from the Trump International Hotel in Miami, Florida sent out plate after plate of delicious foods. Both chefs have attended the Luv Luv Festival for the past five years.

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Chef Tim Grandinetti, Chef Fabian Di Paolo, and Chef Kurtis Jantz

In addition to the awesome food, we also got tastings of some great Mother Earth Brewing beers, including their limited Silent Night. The “Belly of the Beast” table included food bloggers, Nikki Miller Ka (from the great Winston-Salem) and Nichole Livengood (Greenville, SC). Each plate came with a Mother Earth beer sampler.


After an appetizer portion from the Spring House staff, we got our first plate from Jantz and Di Paolo, which included: bottom of the bowl popcorn, wood smoked ‘Cheetohs’ (yes those Cheetohs) ranch dip, blue and plantain chips, charred hot peppers, and black scallion and roasted corn succotash.  One of the extra plates had a fried green tomato, with Texas Pete ‘Cha sauce, and shrimp and crab balls. Another special plate featured jerky and another was a Mexican specialty.

Plate two had blackened shrimp and scallop escabeche, coconut milk marmalade, ash crushed nuts and a blazed onion petal and radish salad. Plate three was probably my favorite of the evening and included barbecued pork ‘skirt steak’ arepa with leek charcoal, broiled cauliflower and corn husk vinagrette, and farmers queso caco banyulus gastrique. Don’t ask me what the last one is, because I have no idea, except for that it was good.

Dessert was a chicory coffee custard, which had chocolate cream, marshmallow fluff, browned milk with toast crumbs, tapioca avocado and basil, and caramelized white chocolate sorbet. Brenda Morie played the music for the evening.

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Brenda Morie

Linville said, “I had a blast tonight! It is a really cool event. I plan to definitely come back next year.”

Mother Earth Brewing is located in Kinston, NC (website). My favorite of all their great choices was their Weeping Willow Wit, which is a Belgian Style beer. I definitely plan to pickup a six-pack next time I am at the grocery store.

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I have been doing jumping jacks all day to try to make room for tonight, when I will have my most amazing guest of the weekend, my wife.

DAY 4:

This is now officially the most food I have ever eaten for dinner in one week, and I am only four nights into the Luv Luv Festival. For the fourth night, Tim Grandinetti invited two of his chef friends from north of our border in Canada, Ted Reader and Olaf Mertens. My guest for the evening was a wonderful nurse and my wife, Katie Callahan.
Katie Callahan
I was back out of the “Belly of the Beast” for the fourth night and back under the tent with the majority of guests. I stuck with Mother Earth Brewery beers for the second straight night, while Katie enjoyed the wine selection. We sat at a table with local Winston-Salemites like Kendall and Tommy Priest from the Coffee Park Airstream, and Kitty White from SECCA. 
Chef Reader and Chef Mertens
I also met local foodie blogger, Marla Lawson from thatsmarla.com. She was joined by her husband, Luke, and added photos to her Instagram account throughout the evening.

Night four included Duck Do-nuts made with duck and cherry barbecue, and an Ocktoberfest strudel. The meats included a barbecue curry-wurst, a baguette stuffed with lobster, a barbecue pastrami, and a bison sirloin on top of cheddar grits. Dessert featured a doughnut on top of a sorbet. The local band for the evening was The Bo-Stevens band.

Lawson said, “the baguette stuffed with lobster was my favorite along with the Sriracha honey drizzle, which brought the perfect heat sweetness to the plate. I will try to master it at home!”

Two guests will cover the blog for me on night five, Lawren (a/perture) and Jigar Desai (IMG). I will be off to the Dixie Chicks in Raleigh to surprise my daughter, McKinley, for her birthday. I will miss the food, but it will give my stomach a night to empty up before the finale on Saturday night.


Day 5: Written by Lawren Desai and her guest Jigar Desai

Turning over a successful blog to two failed bloggers has all the makings of a disaster, but hopefully we can shake off the rust enough to do justice to the event.  Night 5 of Luv Luv 10lawrenwas headed by Tim Recher, Executive Chef at the Army Navy Country Club in Washington DC.  He’s also close to completing his Certified Master Chef designation, which came through in the dishes as you’ll see later.

Jigar started off the cocktail hour with the local feature – an extremely refreshing combination of Sutler’s Gin, cucumber, lime and thyme which slightly helped cool him off after being forced to walk over from our downtown digs.

I didn’t get a photo of my delectable Pina Colada because it was consumed too quickly.

9lawrenThe pre-first course was a deviled egg, meatball, and shrimp/veggie combo – an enjoyable mini potluck of sorts. We were lucky to sit at a very lively table with great conversation – really the perfect dinner party table. We laughed a lot, talked about podcasts and did our fair share of pretending we had degrees from Food Network.

7lawrenThe real first course was possibly my favorite – a Sweet Corn Vichyssoise – with huge chunks of lobster. It was a chilled soup so almost as refreshing as the Rose I chose to accompany it.

An impressive fish course was next and for Jigar it was followed by a singular knife shot board. Just watch the video and you’ll understand. I’m glad Jigar can cross that off his bucket list now.

I’m a pretty adventurous eater, and had my reservations about the next dish when I saw it on the menu. There are two foods I avoid  – olives and beets. Ugh…just gagged in my mouth as I typed them. I’m just going to post a before and after photo of course three. It was very pretty to look at and involved the more colorful of the two forbidden foods.

If you look close enough you will find one small difference, hint, it’s the size of a curried cashew.

Finally we were to the course I’d been eyeing all night – the Zabuton Wagyu Beef Steak – which according to Google is “so named because of the flap’s shape, similar to that of the flat Japanese sitting cushion.”


It was consumed about as quickly as my earlier pina colada. And note to Jay, you’ll see my notebook in the corner of the photo. I did take this assignment very seriously.

Lastly, dessert – soft chocolate and raspberries. Thought I’d time lapse video its consumption…don’t blink.

Luv Luv is always a lovely experience and this year was no exception. We such a fun table that no one wanted to leave and I really hope that we’ll be lucky enough to have a similar experience next year. Thanks for taking the night off Jay and letting us go in your place!



Final Night: Guest, Terrilyn Hutcheon, Chef Eric Martinez, and Chef Grady Spears

For the final night of Dr. Brownstone’s Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival, food blogger TeriLyn Hutcheon joined me to enjoy one more evening of delicious food at Spring House. Hutcheon runs A Foodie Stays Fit, and she also has an awesome Winston-Salem Instagram page, @bestofwinston. The Chefs for the finale were Eric Martinez from Orlando, FL and Grady Spears from Fort Worth, TX.

Chef Grady Spears and Chef Eric Martinez

Hutcheon moved to Winston from Utah over eight years ago. She works at Wells Fargo and lives in Downtown Winston.We sat at a table that included Rebecca Byer from Olio, a glassblowing shop at West End Mill Works, Emily Alphin, and the Cernak’s from Out of Our Mind Animation Studios on Fourth Street.

TeriLyn Hutcheon

The food continued to be excellent, but after five nights of Luv Luv, I honestly feel that I know what it is like for a bear right before they go into hibernation. This has definitely been the most food I have ever eaten in one week.

The final night, we started out with several appetizers, including sausage corn dogs with grits. The music of the evening was a solo guitar player and singer, Josh, who played everything from Bob Marley to several Dave Matthews Band (seven) songs.

The first plate was a crab salad, which was “light and airy” and came with compressed watermelon with lavender. The second plate included heirloom potatoes, fresh corn, white beans, with cobia fish.

Hutcheon heard from a friend that the Winston-Salem showcase cocktail was terrific and ordered one. The drink included Sutler’s Gin, Jack Rudy Tonic, cucumber, thyme, and lime. I stuck with some Brooklyn Lager and I tried the house iced tea that was infused with mint.

The next plate had duck on top of crepes and finished with soy sauce and Korean chili sauce.The final plate was served family style and included beef tenderloin. For desert, we had ice cream cookies with maple-glazed ice cream, in between shortbread cookies with pineapple. The evening concluded with a birthday song for a guest.


The Luv Luv Festival is an event like no other in Winston-Salem that is here to stay. I suggest going next year if you haven’t been yet, but be prepared to eat a lot of great food!