Southern food: more voices from the field
November 10th, 2010
12:15 PM ET
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On Wednesday, 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. Take your place at the (virtual) table, by joining in the conversation and cooking along at home.

Earlier today, we wrote about the chefs who are devoting their lives to reclaiming the soul of Southern food from its prevalent representation as bad-for-you, deep-fried and cream-smothered genetically modified and overly-processed comfort food.

Here are some more thoughts on the matter from chefs and writers who heavily invested in the past, present and future of Southern food.

“One of the beautiful things about the South is that we are so enamored with every aspect of past, present and future. One of the most exciting challenges about being a chef in the South right now is the balance of those three pieces of time with respect to ingredients and technique.

A great example would be greens. You can put a pair of fancy pants on a pice of meat, but if you serve it with greens it better damn well be the greens your grandmother cooked. Southern food is, in my opinion, a great microcosm for the way we live. We always have progress on our minds, but never for a second do we abandon our traditions and forget who we are. The movement for heritage breeds of 'meats' and 'threes' suits us just fine.” – Chef Kelly English, Restaurant Iris

“The growing community is the biggest influence on my cooking. What they have is where we start. We make our menus based on the produce first. Then we look at what sustainable protein that we have access to would pair best with the vegetables, fruits or grains that we are able to procure. I love that process because it makes it feel so fresh. That's how people should shop anyway, geez!” – Chef Steven Satterfield, Miller Union

“The only thing that doesn't work for us is to disengage from the discussion - to say nothing of the consumption of Southern food. We recently saw a recipe for bruschetta by a phenomenally popular southern chef, without any context whatsoever, without any thinking brought to bear about how a recipe for bruschetta ended up in the South. It's like this chef's Southern accent was enough to make a recipe for bruschetta work. Guess what? It's not!” – Writers and cookbook authors Matt Lee and Ted Lee

“To me Southern Food has always been the tradition passed down from our families, the roadside BBQ places, oyster roasts, tomato sandwiches, summer squash, fried chicken, ham biscuits. But there's the stuff that gets the bad rap, like gelatin salads and overcooked vegetables.

We are experiencing a renaissance right now with the sweep of awareness of where food comes from. This is great because it gives us a chance to redefine what Southern is - to revise a recipe with a chef's perspective, to create something new that tastes nostalgic - to cook with heritage ingredients and think about our ancestors. All of these things are helping us take control of what Southern is and steer it in a positive direction. I also think Southern can very much be about GOOD COOKING.” – Steven Satterfield, Miller Union

“Southern cooking is about coming together with family and friends and honoring our heritage through the preservation our particular old world cooking styles and recipes. We Southerners take great pride in what our mothers, fathers and grandparents taught us and we're honored to share it with the rest of the world.

Perhaps then, Southern cooking is really about the past defining the future. I find myself time and time again going back to the tried and true recipes that have been in our family for years because, frankly, they're comforting, soul-stirring dishes that make a lot of people smile." – Cookbook author and food writer Kendra Bailey Morris

Filed under: Cuisines • Secret Suppers • Southern

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. NatX

    Just put some part of the pig into whatever your cooking and BOOM its Southern. Mmmmmm pig.

    November 10, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • Foghorn Leghorn

      I say, I say son, Southern cooking is a whole lot more than pig. Why, there are at least 5 different ways to cook a woodchuck. And fresh bass or catfish right out the water and onto the plate can't be beat. I have a recipe for you to try. Roast and eat crow.

      November 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  2. Matt

    I love the comment about "the past defining the future" in southern food. Honestly if more of us looked at it that way we would probably all be quite a bit healthier and not rely on "fast food".
    My Blog:

    November 10, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
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