Here is your access to some of the South's most interesting culinary stories; they are too good not to share! Listen to the podcast and join the conversation.
Katie Button, Curate and Nightbell (Asheville, NC), Live from FAB Charleston
Chef Katie Button and I spoke a few months ago at the FAB Conference in Charleston, but I’ve held onto this interview a bit because only a couple weeks after it, Katie gave birth 5 weeks early to a little boy. Mom, son, and the whole family are doing splendidly, and life is returning to normal for them, which means her husband and business partner Chef Katie Button and I spoke a few months ago at the FAB Conference in Charleston, but I’ve held onto this interview a bit because only a couple weeks after it, Katie gave birth 5 weeks early to a little boy. Mom, son, and the whole family are doing splendidly, and life is returning to normal for them, which means her husband and business partner Felix is in Spain right now with Curate Trips (check it out, you’re going to want to go), Katie is supervising the final stages of a new restaurant, and Asheville is ramping up for leaf looker season. But Katie likes to live her life with purpose and her drive to excel is strong and shows up in consistently excellent food. She was nominated by the James Beard Foundation for Rising Star Chef of the Year 2012, 2013, 2014, (and twice a semifinalist during those years), Best Chef: Southeast semifinalist in 2015 and nominee in 2018. But she’s also committed to being a responsible business owner. Cúrate and Nightbell are living wage certified and work with local companies and organizations to recycle, compost, and reduce food waste and environmental impact. And she’s working to focus more on her leadership skills, as you’ll hear in this interview. You’ll also hear someone trying to come into the room where we’re interviewing. I locked the door but forgot to put up a sign, so they’re insistent. Ha. Welcome to podcasting on location.
Nico Romo, NICO (Mt. Pleasant, SC)
Chef Nico Romo left Charleston’s Patrick Properties about a year before any allegations of sexually suggestive behavior came out about its now-removed CEO. Nico stood beside those who raised the allegations and was one of the named sources in The Post and Courier story that broke the news earlier this year. He was in the midst of a weeks-old restaurant and could have easily been too busy, but Nico wasn’t too busy. The following interview isn’t about that time, or that past, but I wanted you to know who I’m talking to, the kind of guy that this chef is, a man who prefers to paint his own restaurant walls rather than sit around and watch others, and a chef who will jump in and work the dishpit or shuck oysters if his employees need a hand. Nico is now firmly planted in his own restaurant -- aptly named NICO -- in Mount Pleasant close to Shem Creek, and his commitment to sustainable seafood shines brightly in it. Fresh, briny oysters come to the table alongside hot items bubbling and seared perfectly in cast iron skillets, and it’s no wonder it’s often hard to find a table. He was born in Lyon, France and is one of only 66 Master French chefs in the US, so you know he’s good, but his commitment to the city, his work, and creating a kitchen where people want to work is even better.
In the Wake of a Hurricane: Daniel Doyle and Operation BBQ Relief
Growing up Southern, hurricanes are a part of life. You know the season, the categories, and you know that just because you can’t see the ocean does not mean you won’t see a hurricane’s effects. But things have changed in the past few years -- it feels like it’s become more about capturing those ratings rather than sharing realistic information, and so things are beginning to skew. Not only are we getting more powerful storms as climate change becomes apparent, we’re wondering whose information to trust when politics, ratings, and even the business economy of storm prep is all playing a bigger and bigger part. Then, after the storm, many of us that didn’t get hit -- and that’s most of us -- send thoughts and prayers yet feel overwhelmed and drained by the enormity of fear we just experienced. Fear, more than anything, makes you catatonic, unable to see a way. My job today is to counter that helplessness by helping you hear another side. The helpers are still out there, some of them cook food, and the following is one of their stories. Chef Daniel Doyle of Poogan’s Porch and Poogan’s Smokehouse in Charleston joined Operation BBQ Relief after Hurricane Florence. He saw hive mentality at work and became a worker bee in that hive, all by just showing up and making spaghetti. This is his story from the front lines, and as you listen, please remember that Operation BBQ Relief is mobilizing in Florida today in the wake of another devastating storm.