Currence is from Oxford, Miss., and his City Grocery is probably the best restaurant in the city, if not the state. His three other restaurants — Bouré, Big Bad Breakfast and Snack Bar — would make a fine and complete eatinerary for a visit to Oxford. Currence was born and raised in New Orleans, and a lovely combination of Big Easy cuisine and French-inspired cuisine are the hallmarks of his menus. In 2009, he was awarded the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef South. He also happens to be one of the most entertaining and outspoken chefs I've ever had the pleasure to share company with.
He has recently released his first cookbook, an homage to his favorite things, titled Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey. Here's how he describes the project on his website:
Chef John Currence would rather punch you in the mouth with his fantastic flavors than poke you in the eye with fancy presentation. In his first cookbook, Currence gives you 130 recipes organized by 10 different techniques, such as Boiling/Simmering, Slathering, Pickling/Canning, Roasting/Braising, Muddling/Stirring, Brining/Smoking, and Baking/Spinning, just to name a few. John's fun-loving personality rings true throughout the book with his personal stories and history, and his one-of-a-kind recipes for Pickled Sweet Potatoes, Whole Grain Guinness Mustard, Deep South "Ramen" with a Fried Poached Egg, Rabbit Cacciatore, Smoked Endive, Fire-Roasted Cauliflower, and Kitchen Sink Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches.
To celebrate the cookbook release and share his irreverent take on Southern cuisine with his friends in Nashville, "Johnny Snack" (one of the best nicknames in the biz) will make a visit to his buddy Tandy Wilson's City House kitchen on Monday, Oct. 14, starting at 6:30 p.m. The evening will kick off with cocktails and snacks on City House's patio followed by Currence reading from his book at 7:30. He will sign copies after his reading at about 8.
The menu and pricing is still TBD, but admission will include a copy of Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey for each patron. They do plan to offer a slightly reduced rate for couples in case they only want one book. For more information and reservations, contact City House at (615) 736-5838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ticer and Hudman are the chefs at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog and Hominy in Memphis. Of the 10 best meals I've had in the state over the past year, three of them took place in these two restaurants, thanks to the able hands of Andy and Michael. The two high school friends have worked together in kitchens around the world, and their culinary expertise has earned them James Beard nominations and recognition on this year's Food & Wine magazine "Best New Chefs" list.
Their love of Southern food and respect for their family Italian heritage and traditional ingredients are both reminiscent of Tandy's cooking at City House, and Memphis has responded with the same sort of ardor that we have here in Music City. Andy and Michael have just released their new cookbook, appropriately titled Collards and Carbonara, and it is a wonderful read.
Beautifully photographed and full of stories that share the two young chefs' progression to the top, it's a book that belongs on your coffee table, in your kitchen, and hell, on your nightstand. It's that good of a read. They'll be signing copies at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Williams Sonoma store at The Mall at Green Hills. As a bonus, the chefs will also demo their dish of Brussels Sprouts with Speck, Tomatoes and Bacon Jam, so you don't just have to take my word for it about how delicious their cooking is.
So dig out your eatin' pants and mark your calendar for these two special events. I'll be somewhere near the front of the line!