Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Hugh Acheson is the chef/partner of Five & Ten and The National in Athens, Georgia and Empire State South in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a judge on the current season on Top Chef, and author of "A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen." He has a very famous unibrow.
If you search "Paula Deen" on the Google, these are some of the search suggestions that appear: riding things, recipes, furniture, cookware, meatloaf, and diabetes. I strongly recommend researching the first and last on that list because both point to the decline of Western civilization.
Let me preface this with the wish that this piece not be about maligning a personality or calling out specific dishes in a repertoire. Hopefully it is about furthering a constructive discussion to rejoice in a better Southern food.
Southern food did not make the South unhealthy, rather a broken arrow of cookery did, one that is ultra-processed, trans fat laden, lard fried, and massively caloric. That’s not how I eat and I eat Southern food pretty much every day of my life.
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We've posed the question many times in these here virtual walls, and each time, at least one commenter will confine Southern cuisine to its prevalent meat 'n' three and deep-fried parameters.
Hugh Acheson may be Canadian-born but he quickly learned that being Southern might just be a state of mind, especially when it comes to cooking. And, just because a food is served up below the Mason-Dixon doesn't mean it has to be drenched in Crisco and the antithesis of refined.
Acheson is the chef and partner of Five & Ten and The National in Athens, Georgia, and Empire State South in Atlanta. He is also the author of A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen and a recent contestant on "Top Chef Masters."
Five Overlooked Southern Ingredients: Hugh Acheson