One important initiative the SFA undertakes is filmmaker Joe York's series of short documentaries that share the stories of the people who help to preserve the foodways of the South. They have organized most of them here at the SFA website if you'd like to while away an afternoon being entertained.
Last year, York compiled a feature-length film from many of the short pieces and some new footage to produce Pride and Joy, a great survey of his and the SFA's work. I was fortunate enough to watch a screening last year, and it is full of some of my favorite characters in the Southern food universe. The film is now being syndicated around PBS stations, and our local WNPT affiliate has scheduled a broadcast this Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m.
Above is a trailer to give you a taste.
The film is described as "an examination of Southern foodways, including how traditional foodways endure; and how regional foodways may change due to America's increasing ethnic and racial diversity."
That sounds like a description of John Egerton's passions and befits his involvement with the SFA. York also cut together a short clip of some of Egerton's comments that he shot while filming Pride and Joy, which you can watch on the SFA website.
The first culinary series to film on the historic stage of the Ryman Auditorium, Sing for Your Supper is a unique cooking series hosted by Chef Bob Waggoner (Executive Chef of Watermark) combining cooking and music. Each episode will feature a music star and their special guest along with a sommelier, and the episode’s guest chef, chosen from our studio audience. Chef Waggoner will teach his Audience Chef how to prepare a French-influenced, Southern entrée while also discussing wine pairings. Then the Audience Chef will present their dish to the musical guest, who will gladly “sing for their supper.” Musical guests slated for the series include Jana Kramer, Lauren Alaina, Sarah Darling, Love and Theft, Amy Grant, Brandon Heath, Erin McCarley, Escondido, Lelleigh Bannen, Craig Morgan, Brett Eldridge, Dailey & Vincent and The Mavericks.
The first few episodes have been quite entertaining, and Chef Waggoner has an easygoing onscreen persona. I especially appreciate his use of local wine experts Elise Loehr of F. Scott's, Seema Prasad of Miel and Kenny Lyons of Husk to suggest accompaniments for the meals, although the show's decision to obscure the specific vintners' names on the bottles doesn't take the best advantage of their expertise and makes their advice sort of generic.
Besides that little quibble, Sing for Your Supper is a fun addition to your viewing schedule. Here's hoping it gets picked up for another season!
While the episode summary doesn't specifically list which restaurants the show will be highlighting, It's not too hard to read between the lines. Here's the blurb, with my annotations in brackets:
"This trip, Guy digs into the unique holiday traditions in Tennessee. In Hendersonville, a barbecue joint with a storied past serves up the traditional pulled pork shoulder and a holiday ham with a fiery finish. [Gotta be Center Point BBQ. Hendersonvillagers swear by the stuff.] In Nashville, a tiny taco joint wraps up traditional Mexican tamales and unique quinoa sweet potato tacos. [Cooking Channel's Eat St. already beat DDD to Mas Tacos to get this recipe.]"
So even if some of the mystery of the participating restaurants is already gone, there's still lots to look forward to as we see our local heroes on the big screen! Go ahead and set your DVRs now.
"Hot Lunch Spots" puts downtown's Merchants Restaurant in the spotlight as "a quiet retreat from bustling Broadway [that] serves elegant Southern food." Also featured will be Perla in New York City, Baco Mercat in Los Angeles, and Atlanta's Local Three Kitchen and Bar. If you miss Sunday night's episode, you can catch it again throughout the week; just check the website for additional air dates.
"Ethnic Eats" premieres Sunday, Oct. 27, at 8 p.m. and will feature Riffs Fine Street Food showing off how they combine Caribbean and Asian flavors, including one of my favorites, the kare pan. I'll be tuning in as I was there for filming and can't wait to see a few Bites fans and commenters on the small screen.
The episode will also visit Balaboosta in New York City, Cook's Torta in Los Angeles, and Pecking Order in Chicago.
Also, the show, Foodie Fanatics that Chris Chamberlain wrote about last month has been renamed Log On & Eat With Eden Grinshpan. The series is set to premiere this Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 8:30 p.m. on the Cooking Channel. They've rearranged the episodes, so it won't start out with the episode that features hot chicken. That means we will have to wait even longer to learn the identity of the mysterious "online hot chicken aficionado." Though I'm certain that they're unrelated, I did spy a photo of Suzy Wong (aka Arnold Myint) in the show's gallery. Looks like this will be an interesting series.
The Cooking Channel is on Comcast channel 122 and 1281, AT&T/U-Verse channel 456, DirecTV channel 232, and Dish Network channel 113.
That slot is tonight, Thursday, Oct. 10, at 8:30, so tune in or set your DVR to see the episode, which is titled "Southerners." Here's the plot synopsis:
The Season 2 premiere spotlights the regional variations of southern cuisine. Included: chef Steven Satterfield makes okra and grits; chef John Currence makes tamales; chef Ed Lee creates a dish using bourbon, sorghum and country ham; pastry chef Lisa Donovan makes a buttermilk pie; and new host Sean Brock is joined by the Lee Brothers to make deviled crab. Also: a visit to Fishnet Seafood in South Carolina spotlights Jesus crabs.
Friends of mine in other markets who have already seen parts of the series this season say that it is excellent and immensely entertaining. Now you can play Siskel and Ebert and share your reviews here in the comments. Save me a balcony seat.
Premiering 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, the "Modern Italian" episode of Unique Eats will feature chef Tandy Wilson and City House. Here's the episode synopsis:
First up, in New York City's Little Italy, restaurants dish out classic Italian-American sandwiches that bring out the kid in all of us. Then, Italian comfort food is paired with beer at gastropub Alla Spina in Philadelphia. Superba Snack Bar in Venice, Calif., crafts their own fresh and dried pastas using unusual ingredients and cooking techniques. Lastly in Nashville, City House puts a Southern twist on Italian sausages and seafood and uses leftover pizza dough to create dumpling-like gnocchi.
Eden Grinshpan, whom you might remember from her international tour of Music City that aired last summer, returns with a new series called Food Fanatics. On Friday, Sept. 20, at 9:30 p.m., Eden hosts an episode titled "Eating Big Cat Trucker Style!" One of her stops is at a Nashville staple:
Premiering Friday, September 20th at 10:30pmET/7:30pmPT — "Eating Big Cat Trucker Style!"
Eden heads to Houston to visit online food fanatic Rick Sylvester A.K.A. Big Cat Trucker, who takes her to Just Oxtails Soul Food to put a little "south in your mouth." Then, Eden meets popular online food reviewer Stephy Cakes for some delicious takoyaki balls at Otafuku in New York City's East Village neighborhood. Afterwards, she travels to Nashville to meet an online hot chicken aficionado who gets Eden hooked on Bolton's spicy chicken. Finally, Eden tracks down a crazy costume-wearing blogger at Asian pop-up restaurant Starry Kitchen in downtown L.A.
All right, Bitesters, it's time to 'fess up. Is one of you the "online hot chicken aficionado?" We'll find out sooner than later, so you might as well out yourself so we can arrange a viewing party. I can aver that it is not me, and I don't know who the fowliphile is. Any admissions? Any guesses?
Sean Brock of Husk and Erik Anderson of The Catbird Seat are indeed worthy of the adulation that they receive from local and national food lovers, but it's nice to see that these culinary luminaries can be laid low by a plate of Prince's "extra hot" chicken, just like the rest of us.
In this clip from Season 2 of PBS's Mind of a Chef, the two chefs visit Prince's to try out the hottest of the hot and hear a few stories from the hot Chicken Queen herself, André Prince Jeffries. Brock is a Nashville hot chicken fan from way back, but it's entertaining to see how nervous he is approaching the fiery fowl in the clip. "I'm not gonna lie to you, man. I'm a little nervous." (Neither had ever tried the "extra hot" magnitude before.)
Both chefs experience the typical reaction of initial hot chicken headsnap at the first bite, then the wonderful capsaicin buzz/adrenaline rush as your body's "fight or flight" reflexes are activated. Like many Prince's aficionados, the hallucinatory glide to the finish is the best part, along with the feeling of accomplishment that you conquered something that really shouldn't go into your body.
Finally, Brock addresses his advice about how to deal with the worst part of the hot chicken experience, the exit. Watch about 4:20 into the clip for the best solution to "chicken butt" that I've ever heard.
Season 1 concentrated on mad scientist/chef David Chang as he traveled around the world sharing the kitchen with some of his favorite chefs and taught viewers about his favorite foods. In addition to narration and occasional appearances by Anthony Bourdain, perhaps the most entertaining segments featured chef Sean Brock of Husk and his playfully curious approach to food and drink. I think the five minutes Chang and Brock spent tasting whiskey with Julian Van Winkle might have been some of the funniest television of the year. Spoiler alert: Chang gets drunk and falls off his stool in the tasting room.
For the second season, producers have switched the focus to two chefs who are both known for their love of the pig, Sean Brock and April Bloomfield. (If you click through that not safe for vegans link, that's Sean on the right and April on the left.)
Bloomfield runs three successful restaurants in New York City and is the star of the second half of the season. Much of the early part of the season was shot right here in the kitchen of Husk in Nashville as Brock welcomed many of his chef friends to come cook with him. To add to the intrigue, most of the shooting took place at the same time that Husk was just opening here, so it's amazing that they had the time and space to deal with a film crew.
Chefs who came to town or were already here who are scheduled to make appearances include John Currence, Ed Lee, The Lee Brothers (no relation), Joseph Lenn, Donald Link and Tyler Brown of Nashville's Capitol Grille. Brock also found time to make his second trip to Senegal to explore the amazing food culture there and its connections with traditional Southern cuisine.
Perhaps most exciting for us locals is that Brock's pastry chef at Husk Nashville, Lisa Donovan, will also be featured in the premiere episode, where she'll be making one of her amazing buttermilk pies.
Plus Karl even shared a couple of recipes on the website for his Golden Biscuits and his Banana Jam. It's important to note that he did not give up the goods on his Family Heirloom Biscuits, which I once sampled at one of Vivek Surti's Epicurean Adventures Supper Clubs. In fact, Worley delivered the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately to Vivek with instructions to combine them like the super secret compound that they actually are. Good for him.
Later in the month on Sunday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m., Unique Eats presents their "Swine" episode. Our own Pat Martin of Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint will be featured in a segment of the show. Here's the synopsis of the episode:
Americans continue to pine over all things swine. Korean restaurant Palsaik in Los Angeles serves bacon in eight different flavors. Martin's Bar-B-Q in Nashville smokes whole hog right in the center of their dining room. At Cemitas Puebla in Chicago, diners sink their teeth on quesadillas stuffed with chicharones or their signature Mexican sandwich stuffed with sliced deli ham, fried and grilled pork. New York City's The Cannibal celebrates nose-to-tail eating with their whole slow-roasted half pig's head, whipped lardo toast and boudin noir sausages.
The episodes will repeat a few times during August, but set your DVR if you can't catch them live. Consult the show's official site for airing dates and times.
In reaction to the mounting controversy over statements Paula Deen made in a deposition, Food Network declined to renew the butter-loving cook's contract, which was up at the end of the month.
Hold on, we're gonna need 30 seconds or so …
On Wednesday, details of the deposition leaked to TMZ including some comments where Deen acknowledged using the N-word.
Lawyer: Well, then tell me the other context in which you've used the N-word?
Paula: I don't know, maybe in repeating something that was said to me.
Lawyer: Like a joke?
Paula: No, probably a conversation between blacks. I don't — I don't know. But that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the '60s in the south. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do.
But this morning, it was all going to be OK, because she was scheduled for a heart-to-heart with Matt Lauer on the Today show. Then, maybe remembering that Lauer isn't always the easiest out in the world (just ask Paul Ryan), Deen cancelled her appearance at the last minute.
A befuddled Lauer noted the snub on Twitter.
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