Saying Goodbye to a Friend and a Culinary Giant

The KaTom family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sam Beall, whose outsized impact on the hospitality and culinary worlds both here in East Tennessee and well beyond will shape both for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, both his wife and children, and his parents, who founded the Walland, Tenn., resort – Blackberry Farm – that Sam helmed for the last several years.

Sam was born at Blackberry Farm, which had been established only a short time before. He is credited with building the rustic retreat into a world-class destination, earning accolades including the top spot on Travel + Leisure’s list of America’s luxury hotels and designation by Bon Appétit as the top hotel for food lovers. Under his leadership, the resort and its staff have also claimed a trio of James Beard Foundation awards, including a first-in-the-South prize for Outstanding Wine Program. All that from what Beall called, “Our humble little place in the hills of Tennessee.”

For us here in East Tennessee, Sam was more than some distant giant shaping two of America’s biggest industries – he was a neighbor. He was one of ours, one whose passion for the flavors and culture of this area exposed people from all over the world to what we love about this place, and we couldn’t have chosen a better ambassador.

“My heart breaks for the entire family, particularly his wife Mary Celeste and their five young children,” KaTom Founder, President, and CEO Patricia Bible said. “Sam was a significant light in the culinary world and provided perhaps the most significant voice East Tennessee has had there in some time. He embraced this area and let it shine in every part of Blackberry Farm. You could taste that love in every dish that came out of the kitchen there and you could hear it in the way he talked about everything related to the farm, down to the heirloom produce grown and served there. I count it a tremendous blessing that I was able to get to know him, and sat in awe every time I heard him tell of the history and the future of Blackberry.

“The extinguishing of his light is an incredible loss to those of us who knew him, to East Tennessee, and to all who love great food.”

Derek Hodges
Derek Hodges

Derek Hodges is a proud North Carolinian who moved to Tennessee in 2006 to preach the gospel of Cheerwine and mix some Tar Heel blue in with all the orange. He has made wonderful friends who tolerate occasional remarks like those above. He and his wife Amanda enjoy spending weekends at Dollywood and trying to convince their dog Shiloh to get over his fear of swimming.

Connect with Derek Hodges on Google+
  1. February 27, 2016 at 3:44 am, Brenda Fannon said:

    Beautiful tribute to a phenomenal young man gone too soon.


  2. February 28, 2016 at 3:40 pm, Pam Luttrell Salem said:

    Thank you. Such a tragic loss. What a wonderful legacy and beautiful life well lived.