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The Southern Fork
44 minutes | Oct 22, 2021
Sarah Pierre, 3 Parks Wine Shop (Atlanta, GA)
In the world of food and drink, we often need guides. I know I do, and that’s also one of the most wonderful things about the culinary world -- if you approach with curiosity instead of a know-it-all attitude, there’s so much to learn, and connection and community is just around the corner. Sarah Pierre, owner and operator of 3 Parks Wine Shop in Atlanta, GA, is one of the foremost guides and tastemakers for the growing focus on wine in the Southeast, and during the 9 years her store has been open, it’s become a hub for education, all those feel good neighborhood and shop local vibes, and of course a hefty pour of fun events. Sarah graduated from Georgia State University with a science degree, but she always gravitated towards the hospitality industry and worked front of house and in management at many ATL standbys, including Bacchanalia with past Southern Fork guest Anne Quatrano. 3 Parks Wine has been named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 50 Best Retailers in the US, and we talked after she led session at Gather Round festival at the Epicurean Atlanta hotel.
39 minutes | Oct 15, 2021
Lee Pantazis, Gus's Hot Dogs (Birmingham, AL)
In the middle of Birmingham, AL sits the behemoth Sloss Furnaces, now a museum but once the tin man’s beating heart of this industrial city. During that era, quick lunches soon became big business, and hot dogs quickly reigned supreme as Chicago restaurateurs made their way down the rail line to new opportunities. In 1947, Gus Alexander, a Greek immigrant, opened Gus's Hot Dogs in its current, original location. It’s now the last remaining downtown hot dog spot, and owner Lee Pantazis, who honed his kitchen skills while working for the Yellow Bicycle, Satterfields, and Little Donkey, holds court daily, often prepping in the back for the grill guys as they perform a delicate dance up front of grilling, toppings, and keeping all those orders straight. Lee comes from a prominent Birmingham family and sees himself as caretaker of a uniquely local tradition. And he does like a good hot dog, chips, and Coca Cola in the glass bottle.
40 minutes | Oct 8, 2021
Rob McDaniel, Helen (Birmingham, AL)
Chef Rob McDaniel is an Alabama native. He grew up in Hayleyville, graduated from Auburn, sharpened his cooking skills at ‘Bama standbys Jim N’ Nicks and Hot & Hot Fish Club, and was the longstanding chef of SpringHouse at Lake Martin. So a couple of years ago, when he told me he was opening a place of his very own in downtown Birmingham, named Helen after his granny, I knew it was going to be good, and I knew I had to visit. His passion for Southern foods, foraging, and sustainability informs his culinary style and is showcased through his dedication to simple recipes enhanced by flavorful ingredients. McDaniel is a five-time James Beard Foundation nominee for Best Chef: South , and he makes the best tomato pie I’ve ever had outside of the Carolinas. Taking a precise chef’s eye to Southern classics is what he does best, and he’s interested in his next chapter as restaurateur.
35 minutes | Oct 1, 2021
Shamil Velazquez, Delaney Oyster House (Charleston, SC)
It’s time to come clean here. When Delaney Oyster House opened a few years ago, I was prepared to dismiss it as part of a group of oyster bar openings in my home city of Charleston, SC. I just thought things were getting too saturated, and it was a trend that was gearing more toward tourist dollars than unique flavors. But from my first bite at Delaney, I knew whoever was behind the stove wasn’t cooking for trends, but working from an artistic and very particular point of view. That person is Shamil Velasquez, a native of Puerto Rico and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY., whose tenure at Husk Greenville introduced him to South Carolina foodstuffs. He’s passionate about sourcing, focused on teamwork, and with an island background, an expert on seafood. It’s my favorite time of the food year -- oyster season -- and I can’t imagine a better conversation partner to celebrate it, with a squeeze of lime, of course.
34 minutes | Sep 24, 2021
Lou Thomann, Yaupon Tea Company (Savannah, GA)
You never know when something will capture your imagination and change your path forever. Lou Thomann was an ex-rice trader and historic building restorer living in Savannah, Ga. when he he decided to join a nature tour on Ossabaw Island, and that was the day he learned about Yaupon Holly, a native caffeinated plant known and revered by indigenous tribes but mostly forgotten in collective modern culture. Lou’s life changed that day. He’s now an expert on the yaupon holly, a farmer of it, and an evangelist for it, from speaking at the Atlanta Botanical Garden to developing programming at the Georgia Native Plant Society, and he’s one of co-owners, along with his wife Lori Judge, of Yaupon Teahouse + Apothecary in Savannah, Ga. It's the storefront for the massive farming, research, and propagation operation centered on the native plant that has helped write Lou’s next chapter.
36 minutes | Sep 17, 2021
Craig Richards, Lyla Lila (Atlanta, GA)
With Labor Day behind us, a bit of a break in the high humidity, and college football on the television, it’s evident that fall temps are around the corner. This time of year, my mind doesn’t turn to pumpkin spice, it turns to all things pasta. Craig Richards of Lyla Lila in Atlanta, Ga. is a true pasta professional, having learned the craft under the renowned Lidia Bastianich, working with her and her restaurant group in Kansas City and Pittsburgh before moving to Atlanta to cook at La Tavola. From there he eventually became the Executive Chef of Ford Fry’s St. Cecilia and the VP of Culinary for that restaurant group, honing his pasta making skills and unique cooking point of view every step of the way. Lyla Lila is the first restaurant of his very own, and it welcomes diners with a warm hospitality and plenty of pasta deliciousness. Come back into its kitchen with me, and learn all the specifics about the art, and the science, of my favorite fall food.
40 minutes | Sep 10, 2021
242: Frank Stitt, Highlands Bar & Grill, Chez Fonfon, Bottega (Birmingham, AL)
There is a magic picnic basket on this show, a fantastical idea of a dream meal, and I struggle to recount how many of my 240+ guests have included a dish from Frank Stitt. Let’s just say it’s more than a few.. Writer Charles Gaines in Garden & Gun called him the Godfather of Southern Cuisine, and this James Beard award winner has built a dynasty of dining delight in Birmingham, AL with Highlands Bar & Grill, Chez Fonfon, and Bottega. A studious youth, he turned his philosophical eye from studying Plato to learning from Alice Waters, Simca Beck, and Richard Olney, not to mention Jeremiah Tower, but he’s still as delighted at seasonal produce coming in the kitchen door as he;s ever been, the rotation of the culinary calendar a deep well of inspiration. That enthusiasm weaves its way through his restaurants, his staff, and the dishes that are crafted, and the idea of a restaurant as revelry, as reverence, and as a respite is perhaps Stitt’s true philosophy shining forth.
40 minutes | Sep 3, 2021
241: Amanda Storey, Jones Valley Teaching Farm (Birmingham, AL)
In times like these, it’s good to go back to the garden, and with school back in session, that’s exactly where some children in Birmingham, AL are headed. Jones Valley Teaching Farm is located in the city’s downtown, and its patchwork of small, urban farms within a single community is reshaping the stories and futures for those nearby. Amanda Storey is the Executive Director of the farm, where she’s been an enthusiastic advocate, volunteer, and employee for 10 years — four of which have been spent in her current role. Her passion for the connection between food and community began in her early career, and like me, she sees food through the lens of the people it touches. In a place where weeds once grew in abandoned lots, Jones Valley Teaching Farm is growing hope and imagination for a different future.
41 minutes | Aug 20, 2021
240: Brian Hart Hoffman, Bake from Scratch / Hoffman Media (Birmingham, AL)
Brian Hart Hoffman is a force. Co-president and chief creative officer of Hoffman Media, he oversees the editorial planning and brand direction for all publications and books. He’s written three books and is a frequent guest on morning shows, but during my recent visit to Birmingham, AL, we focused on his Bake from Scratch magazine since he was hosting the Southern Baking Retreat. Just as he encouraged me as a fledgling podcaster, he encourages a love of baking and community in so many people who cross his path. His enthusiasm is infectious, and his thirst to be a better baker is ever with him, and I’m happy to call him my friend.
32 minutes | Aug 13, 2021
239: Kalifa Shabazz, Shabazz Seafood (Savannah, GA)
I had one of the best fried fish sandwiches I’ve had in a long while recently at Shabazz Seafood in Savannah, Ga. Whiting is fried crispy hot to order, and it’s sandwich with a stellar reputation in Savannah. But, this take out spot that opened its order window in 1989 hasn’t been known much outside the city until recently. That all changed when it was featured this year on Netflix’s Fresh, Fried, and Crispy, and that happened because Kalifa Shabazz, who grew up working with her parents after school, found a place for herself in the business and a calling for her new profession when she began doing social media for the restaurant. Mom and Savannah Alderwoman Estella Shabazz and dad Yusuf Shabazz are community leaders, and Kalifa’s already thinking about how she can support the community further.
41 minutes | Aug 6, 2021
238: Sara Bir, Chef, Author, & Forager, The Pocket Paw Paw Cookbook (Marietta, OH)
Paw paw season is almost here. From late August through October, the largest native fruit to North America -- and growing in many parts of the South -- begin to ripen. These fruit are in the custard apple family and are enjoying a culinary renaissance, and so to learn more about these wild edibles, I turn to Sara Bir, the author of The Pocket Paw Paw Cookbook, just released with beautiful illustrations and plenty of ways to utilize your foraged fruit. Sara is a chef, writer, and self professed plant nerd. Her book, The Fruit Forager's Companion won a 2019 IACP Cookbook Award. She’s a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, an editor for the website Simply Recipes, and her work has been featured and Saveur, Lucky Peach, and Paste Magazine, as you’ll hear, and she always leaves me inspired to read more, cook more, and get out in the natural world more.
41 minutes | Jul 30, 2021
237: Brandon Carter & John Benhase, Common Thread (Savannah, GA)
What does it mean to really have a culinary collaboration? Circumstances prompted Chefs Brandon Carter and John Benhase to join forces in a kitchen as the world was asking “What does the future of restaurants look like?” Their spot, Common Thread, is attempting to answer that question with every service. Located in Savannah, GA, in an 1897 home that was once the gift of a Prussian hat seller to his second wife, inspired work by architect Kevin Rose realized a modern restaurant vision without disregarding its original bones and nooks and crannies, and made it into a setting for the two chef’s love of hyper-local, hyper-seasonal cooking. That’s the same idea that Carter cooks from at FARM Bluffton, the small-community sister to this restaurant in Bluffton, SC. Benhase, who cooked under Chef Ford Fry in Atlanta before moving to Savannah to helm Starland Yard, brings a steady organizational and ultra-creative hand. This restaurant is all about relationships -- with the seasons, with the producers, with the guests, and with the team -- and that focus is something that is only going to get stronger.
40 minutes | Jul 23, 2021
236: Shuai & Corrie Wang, Jackrabbit Filly (North Charleston, SC)
In the world of creativity, writing like yourself, playing music like only you can play it, or cooking from a true place and point of view inside yourself -- that’s the sweet spot. We’re all chasing that and even when we find it, we have to find it again every time we sit down to create, which is part of the frustration and part of the fun. Shuai Wang cooks from just such a place, a culinary intuition that straddles two cultures. He met his wife and business partner, Corrie Wang, at New York City’s Chez Sardine, where he was chef de cuisine and she worked front of house. They moved South, eventually opening Short Grain food truck, from which Shuai was nominated for Rising Star Chef in 2017 by the James Beard Foundation. Now he and Corrie own and operate Jackrabbit Filly in North Charleston, S.C. Named after Shuai and Corrie’s Chinese zodiac animals, the restaurant serves heritage-driven New Chinese American cuisine in a fun, friendly neighborhood environment. It’s quirky, it’s busy, and oh so delicious.
39 minutes | Jul 16, 2021
235: KJ Kearney, Black Food Fridays (North Charleston, SC)
Just 7% of U.S. businesses overall were Black-owned before the pandemic, according to data from a University of California, Santa Cruz study, and, of course, black-owned restaurants were only a portion of that number. In 2020, North Charleston, SC native KJ Kearney began the Black Food Fridays Instagram account with a simple idea -- it would be a way for people to find and support Black-owned restaurants. It has since evolved into multiple platforms highlighting dishes, desserts, drinks, and the people who make them in black-owned restaurants, as well as larger discussions at the intersection of race, food, and history. The Instagram account alone now has more than 31,000 followers, and KJ has partnered with corporations from Pepsi to Amazon to bring awareness to black food businesses all over the country. He’s led food tours, held his first live event, and participated in panels and discussions. He and Anela Malik also host the Fix Your Plate podcast on the Eat Drink Dine Network.
44 minutes | Jul 9, 2021
234: Ron Hsu & Aaron Phillips, Lazy Betty (Atlanta, GA)
It’s not the neighborhood you expect. It’s not throwing those flashy, Atlanta vibes with its post-industrial decor and lack of dress code or velvet ropes. And the night I visited, a festive group was having birthday fun, laughing and singing at the chef’s counter. Welcome to Lazy Betty, a mirage of unapologetically upscale dining in an unassuming brown building in the Candler Park neighborhood of Atlanta, GA. Chefs Ron Hsu and Aaron Phillips met during their tenures at Le Bernardin in NYC, and they curate an intimate experience with an open-kitchen setting and conversational service. The modern menu embodies the inspirations of years of professional training, and I had everything from a halibut with green tomato and ham broth to something called a duck cigar. Each course was delicious, intellectual, and fun. I’m so happy to be thrilled by restaurants again. And I was thrilled by my Lazy Betty experience, a rollercoaster ride of what fine dining can be.
35 minutes | Jul 2, 2021
233: James London, Chubby Fish (Charleston, SC)
When Chubby Fish in Charleston, SC is closed, there are dark blue velvet curtains in the windows that obscure a view inside. However, when 5 p.m. comes, those curtains are opened and Chef James London and his team are ready to serve a lot of hungry diners. They come for all things seafood, a variety of fish and shellfish prepared in a variety of ways, but always with an eye for balance and a respect for the product. The restaurant was named one of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants in America in 2019, and I’ve also included it the last two years in the Best Restaurants in Charleston for Conde Nast Traveler. James attended the French Culinary Institute and has cooked in San Francisco and New York, but the waters and the dining culture of the South Carolina Lowcountry keep his creativity fresh and keep me coming back for another Chubby Fish experience.
42 minutes | Jun 25, 2021
232: Neal Cohen, Yoni Reisman, & Miles Macquarrie, Tip Top Proper Cocktails (Atlanta, GA)
Here’s a new term you might want to remember: RTD, or “Ready to Drink.” It’s growth in the beverage category is exponential, but I often found the cocktails too syrupy for my palate. Until now. Tip Top Proper Cocktails in Atlanta was founded by music industry veterans Neal Cohen and Yoni Reisman (Governor’s Ball in NYC) after they recognized a gap in the market for a quality portable cocktail. The recipes are developed by seven-time James Beard Award nominated barman Miles Macquarrie of Atlanta’s Kimball House and Watchman’s, and they’re so good, I can’t quite decide which one is my favorite. How I Built This With Guy Raz is one of my go-to podcasts, and today I pay homage to that particular form with this interview, recorded live at Kimball House as prep was beginning to ramp up all around us.
41 minutes | Jun 18, 2021
231: Gena Berry, Culinary Works (Atlanta, GA)
Next time you’re at a food event, watching a commercial where someone’s eating pizza, flipping through a magazine with beautiful food pictures, or enjoying a movie scene where the lead introduces her new boyfriend at the holiday table, I hope you’ll think of Gena Berry of Culinary Works based in Atlanta, GA. She is, as she simply puts it, one of the people who put the food in all of these scenes. From food styling to recipe development, to ad campaigns and special food events, Gena is behind the scenes coordinating, organizing, planning and testing, not to mention often cooking up a storm. Her client list runs the gamut from Capital One to Delta Airlines, the Kentucky Derby to Georgia Organics, and her job is to have the food ready for showtime, whether that’s in front of a camera or for a crowd of thousands.
38 minutes | Jun 11, 2021
230: David Thompson, David Thompson Architect (Charleston, SC)
Restaurants are immersive experiences, and while some grow organically, most are planned with intention, and it’s often the architect who is bringing that intention to life, setting the stage for the nightly dance of server, food, guest, and environment. Architect David Thompson has been involved in the building or renovation of many of the restaurants that have been featured on this show. His firm was founded in 2010 in Charleston, SC, and he’s brought the vision of The Ordinary, The Grocery, and multiple projects by Steve Palmer’s Indigo Road to life, so his is a unique insider’s view into the makings of a culinary culture. The questions he asks when designing a space can better help us to understand not only restaurant life for those who work in them, but how our experience as diners is shaped by the space in which we are dining.
41 minutes | Jun 4, 2021
229: Suzi Sheffield, Beautiful Briny Sea (Atlanta, GA)
Beautiful Briny Sea is an artisan dry goods company based in Atlanta, GA, but that doesn’t really explain the magic that happens behind its humble doors. It’s like an alchemist's cave full of spices, salt, and bright, shiny sugar sprinkles in all colors of the rainbow. At the center of it all is Suzi Sheffield, founder and CEO, former restaurateur turned salt storyteller. This company’s salt blends are very balanced, and often intricate with subtle layers of flavor, in 16 varieties, from Magic Unicorn to Bird Bath Turkey Brine. Then there are sugar cane blends and sprinkles, too, as well as a creative approach that is a perfect blend of sweet and salty, taking a company from too small for a farmers market to partnerships with Jeni’s Ice Creams, Williams-Sonoma, and more.
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