Live! From the CNN Secret Supper
November 10th, 2010
06:00 PM ET
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We've been teasing you all week that today, November 10th, Eatocracy is hosting its inaugural Secret Supper in Atlanta, Georgia, centered around the topic of how chefs' increasingly close collaboration with farmers figures into the preservation and evolution of Southern cooking. We've been encouraging you take your place at the (virtual) table, by joining in the conversation and cooking along at home.

And now, the time has come for the big reveal. Ring that dinner bell, Linton! Yup - chef Linton Hopkins and the kind folks at Atlanta's Restaurant Eugene are serving up the night's fare with a distinctively Southern sense of place. Not only is Chef Hopkins the president of the Southern Foodways Alliance, he is a two-time James Beard Award nominee and was named one of Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chefs" in 2009. We've always been so impressed with his relationship with local and artisan farmers and purveyors, we knew he was our guy - that, and he's just so gosh darn darlin'.

As the first guests start to arrive and the kitchen gets ready for the passed hors d'œuvres - we snuck back for some preparation picks. Candied bacon, anyone?

bacon candy

No Southern kitchen is complete without pickling spices.
mise en place

And here's the citrus cured trout course getting plated. Hungry yet?
cured trout

Chef coming through! Chef Hopkins maneuvers his way around the kitchen with jars o' pickles for the Southern antipasti course.

"Please take your seat at the table..."

The cocktail of the night is appropriately named the "Jimmy Dean" - it's got Bulleit bourbon, Barenjager, fresh orange, orange pekoe tea and fresh mint.
Jimmy Dean

Chef Hopkins greets Virginia Willis, the chef and author of "Bon Appétit, Y'all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking."
meet and greet

Pâté, pickles and pickled shrimp, oh my! Plus, charcuterie and a salad of beet, orange and fennel. This is antipasti down south.
Southern antipasti

Chef Hopkins and Eatocracy's managing editor Kat Kinsman make a toast to the local farmers that made the meal possible. "Y'all eat with your mouth full! Don't be shy," added Kinsman.
secret supper toast

As folks finish up their antipasti, Chef Hopkins tends to the beef short ribs for the entrées.
short ribs

Chef Hopkins shows off a platter of mushrooms foraged by a farmer friend at Indian Ridge. The mushroom will be served with the meal. Talk about fresh eatin.'

Beet salad porn. You can thank us later.
beet salad

The aforementioned short ribs get plated with Anson Mill grits, log-grown shiitakes, red wine jus and baby carrots. The carrots were picked today by dinner guest Joe Reynolds of Love is Love Farm.
short ribs

We can't read longtime food critic Christiane Lauterbach's mind - but we're going to guess she's excited about the beef short rib.
short rib

Beefy beauty shot. Oh la la.
short rib

We're not the only ones blogging. Tami Hardeman of "Running with Tweezers" focuses in on the entrée as CNN anchor Isha Sesay talks with a table mate and Chef Hopkins makes sure all is running smoothly.

Dessert is next. We don't want it to be over! Maple pot de creme, candied pumpkin, salted pumpkin seeds, butter toffee and spiced cream. We mighta just licked the screen.

One dessert is never enough, and it'd frankly be rude not to try 'em all - especially this warm sorghum cake with macerated citrus and a sorghum syrup tuile.
sorghum cake

And as the bartenders spell out Eatocracy's name in all sorts of barkeep accoutrements, all we have to say is "That's all folks!" 'Til the next one...
Eatocracy bar

Follow @eatocracy and #CNNsupper on Twitter to catch up on even more action.

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Annabella

    A shame. I was born and raised in AL, have sampled cuisine from the Gulf Coast to the foothills of the Appalachians, and I am appalled by this selection of food being called 'Southern.' Where's the heart? The rich, warm comfort? There's no soul in this food, and I can't even bring myself to consider trying half of it. You are a failure if you cannot even whet the appetites of lifelong southerners.

    December 18, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  2. Kathy

    Turnip greens, hot water cornbread, baked sweet potatoes,creamed corn, field peas, sliced tomatoes from the garden, fried okra, fried chicken or pork chops are menu items that are a must for any true southern cook. The food pictured did look great, but it's not what we as southerners grew up eating and have served for generations.

    December 3, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  3. Ricky Martin

    Beat you to it!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  4. Richard Simmons

    I'd ATM that!

    November 15, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  5. huh?

    Southern grub huh? I agree the fare looks attractive and wouldn't have minded being one of the guests, but southern it ain't. I agree with the Southern Influenced statements previously made. Please stop fu-fu'ing things up to the point of unrecognition... if you're going to call it 'southern' better learn from Carlos O'Kelly's...sorry folks...that was slip

    November 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  6. Suvir Saran

    Linton is a genius! A genius of the most wonderful kind. He keeps traditions alive for all of us, both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Thanks Linton! Kat, the commentary of this posting was just as thrilling as the gorgeous photos and what I imagine was superlatively beautiful and delicious food. Thanks for sharing this with those of us in absence who can now toast to Linton yet again.

    November 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  7. Noregrrts777

    Don't knock it til you've tried it. The restaurant is fine dining with a southern influence in foods and spices. I know .... I am southern born, bred ... we CAN have southern inspired food other than plain old fried chicken, turnip greens, blackeyed peas & corn bread ( with a slice of raw onion and pepper sauce of course) all of which I love prepared in the classic southern way btw. Eugenes isn't what my mother fixed for dinner and isn't intended to be.... Not what you want to eat for every meal, sometimes I still want good ole fried chicken & black eyed peas, but for an exceptional meal with southern influence Eugenes is excellent and unique. If you want a meat and 2 veggies go somewhere else ... There are lots of those around town, but none as good as my wife can do :-).

    November 11, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
  8. Really?

    I hate crap this like. I don't want my food to be all artsy and made with ingredients I've never heard of before. Give me a huge steak and mountain of mashed potatoes.

    November 11, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • RichardHead

      With lottsa,lottsa Butter!

      November 11, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • Nightlight

      Then give me heart disease, diabetes, and amputation of the extremities. Or else try to find a way to have fun with friends, enjoy an interesting meal, and not indulge the deathwish.

      November 15, 2010 at 5:28 am |
  9. Dee

    So sick of "foodies". Eat to live, don't live to eat.

    November 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
    • except that they have some good ideas

      I do enjoy watching and reading their reviews

      November 11, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
      • Jerv

        Yup, me too. If I'm going to "eat to live" I would like to have a little fun along the way.

        November 12, 2010 at 7:41 am |
  10. Evil Grin

    I was doing okay until I saw the sorghum cake. No doggy bags to share with the rest of us?

    November 11, 2010 at 11:47 am |
  11. tallis

    I am all for people knowing about gourmet food, but "Eatocracy" is a profoundly dumb name.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:28 am |
    • Jerv

      sheeze lighten up

      November 11, 2010 at 10:08 am |
      • best topics for discussion


        what ever the name, really some of the most interesting discussions are here

        November 11, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      I'll note for the record also, that we're very, VERY rarely about "gourmet" food. We're about about aaallllllll kinds of food and eating and cuisines and food cultures and chefs and home cooks and - all of it. It's democratic food coverage - an Eatocracy.

      November 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
      • fob

        And that's why I like it here.

        November 11, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
      • Suvir Saran

        There is honesty to Kat Kinsman's statement. To test that all one need do is peruse this site and read the other chefs, foods and people highlighted.

        November 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  12. RealGeorgian

    I find this article to be incredibly obnoxious. I hate when things try to be cutely southern, like the writing in this article. Its like watching Nicholas Cage doing a southern accent in Con Air. I've spent the past 26 years of my life having been born and raised in the south, and I've met many people who think southern sayings are cute(they're not), but I'll be "hog-tied and chicken-fried" if I've ever seen any of this overly prepared crap on a table in front of me. And I think it's great that people are supporting local farmers, and that they are getting fresh ingredients, but don't sell me on this commune slow-foods movement BS to convince me you are more "in touch" with your food. I'm in touch when something hits my mouth and comes out the other end and thats as close as it gets. Oh, and please dont call a grown man "just so gosh darn darlin'"

    November 11, 2010 at 9:05 am |
    • justpeachy

      I guess serving small portions of overpriced food on little plates and calling it Southern Cooking is the new "in style and trendy" thing for chefs/restaurants to do. It won't last long, people who like Southern Food and know what it is and should be will not buy this BS hype!

      November 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  13. RichardHead

    Looks like everyone had a fun and enjoyable evening. I would recommend some Alka-Seltzer and a Big bottle of aspirin with endless Gatorade be at the ready on Kat's desk this morning.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:43 am |
  14. Deadheadchef

    While I am sure that Chef Hopkins is very talented, this isn't really southern fare. Maybe some kind of strange hybrid cuisine but nothing like I have ever seen in my travels through the south. And I do support the "buy local" idea, but face it, the prices for such ingredients are usually beyond the budget of us normal foodies.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:44 am |
  15. DerekL

    That food is no more Southern than braised Kangaroo. 'This is antipasti down South'? No, it isn't. There is no antipasti down South – antipasti is *Italian*.

    If the author thinks that foodie crap that happens to be served in the South has a 'distinctive Southern sense of place'... Well, then the terms cuisine and cooking have no meaning anymore, you can just call any food whatever you want with equal meaning. Or lack thereof.

    November 11, 2010 at 3:03 am |
    • Popeye

      I agree 100% What we see here is some New York Yankee's idea of Southern cooking. Who eats bacon for supper unless you are serving breakfast for dinner?

      While it all looks good, I've never seen anything like this served on any down home southern table. I am afraid this has got too far out of hand and has given the emperor a new set of cloths.

      November 11, 2010 at 3:57 am |
      • Dave

        Open your mind a little and allow cuisine to evolve.

        November 11, 2010 at 9:21 am |
      • evolve?

        ok, but should it be southern?

        I think southern influenced is better, because southern by itself is just fine with out evolving, and really the thought of what southern cooking involves is mouth watering with out an 'update'

        November 11, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
      • RBarnes

        There was some recognizable fare there too, such as Jr Johnson's country ham. THe greens and grits and some of the parts were very recognizable. The pimento cheese fritters were good as Free Bird ;-)

        November 11, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
      • don't be reductive and perscriptive

        southern cuisine is more than a few iconic stereotypes like fried chicken and turnip greens.

        November 11, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
      • don't be cruel

        to a heart thats true, I don't want no other love, baby its just you I'm thinking of

        Elvis is turning over at his resting place, what have you done to his southern cusine

        you have, in the name of 'not being reductive' etc turned it into gormet flighty chef material

        no don't stereotype, but also no don't run off the deep end, this ain't southern cooking

        don't defend this chef in the name of progress, he is not making southern dishes, he is perhaps making an interesting 'statement', but it is not southern

        November 11, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • justpeachy

      I didn't see any southern food either!

      November 11, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
    • workingmom40

      I got to agree with y'all and I'm not even Southern. I have lived in the South now for over ten years, but grew up in Pacific Northwest. I have been eating my husband's family's food (he is from South) and other southern food and have never associated trout , pumpkin or beets with South – so much closer to my upbringing. Where are the sweet potatoes, collards, catfish, oysters, okra, rice, smoked meats, etc? At least the short rib is on grits, but served with red wine au jus? That doesn't even sound good with grits.

      November 11, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      What isn't Southern about country ham, pickled peaches, chicken liver, pimento cheese (fried, no less), chow-chow, benne seed wafers, etc.? All were lovingly made, produce gotten directly from the farmers, much of it grown from heirloom seeds that make the vegetables identical to what our great-great grandparents ate. That's not just old South; that's old, old, OLD South.

      November 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
      • I am gathering you are the sponsor or person in charge

        so it is interesting to see your responses and how cool that you are active... and not a computer

        my thought is, the ingredients might be southern but the execution is not

        November 11, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
      • Carolyn O'Neil

        Thanks Kat for one of the most wonderful dinner parties ever. The cuisine, conversation and cutting edge communications via Eatocracy was total fun! CNN is the leader once again in food news!

        November 12, 2010 at 11:32 am |
      • Tracy

        Pimento cheese may be southern, but frying it doesn't make it more so. My formative years were spent watching my grandparents cook "poke salat", vinegar pie, okra, catfish, hushpuppies, etc., so, even though I've lived in NYC for a long time, my roots are very much in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. It doesn't really matter how heirloom the produce is or how blackish-green the burlap on the country ham – the preparation is what makes it Southern.

        Believe me, please, when I say that I mean no disrespect. If I can take hoppin' John, hoe cakes and pork belly and make them taste more like provincial French cooking than anything someone south of Ohio would recognise because I never learned my forebears' recipes and styles, my guess is that chefs out to impress can take very Southern ingredients and make them into something altogether different, too. After all, pickled peaches and chicken liver become Chinese with a few simple spice changes.

        November 13, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  16. BigDaddyRhino


    November 10, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
  17. virginiawillis

    FANTASTIC!! Loved the dialogue as much as the food.

    November 10, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
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