On November 12, Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosts CNN Dialogues, focusing on the issues of food security and food deserts in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the nearly 16 million children who spend their days and nights hungry. Learn more about the series here. Panelist 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."
Today is Veterans Day and I would like to thank my grandfather for his sacrifice. I don’t think he was fighting for his individual rights when he lost his life during World War II, riding in a jeep far into enemy territory in Occupied France. He was fighting for a greater idea of freedom that defines modern democracies, a collective freedom that allows us individual liberty. First we succeed together, which gives us the allowance to succeed as individuals.
When we build a society, as we continue to do every day, we need to think of everyone. Success for the lower and middle class in recent years has been made difficult to attain as the American dream has become an elusive goal. Stacked against success are many pitfalls that seem to keep the poor, well, poor. High interest rate loans, lack of viable employment, housing-market collapses: all of these things have not only kept people from rising out of poverty but have driven more people into it.
The poverty rate for children in my state of Georgia is 26%, a figure that makes me queasy. Cuts to programs to assist those in need make me angry. It’s a divisive issue but I prefer to be on the side of trying to help those in need. I just firmly believe in this statement: We are better off as a country when all of our kids have access to nutritious food.
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