Ep. 56: Tradd Cotter, Mushroom Mountain

photo: andrew cebulka 

photo: andrew cebulka 

Mushrooms are a staple in my kitchen. I grew up eating them sauteed in garlic and butter, and that’s still my favorite way to enjoy them, but it was only a few years ago that I began seeing different varieties of ‘shrooms hit Southern restaurant tables on the regular. People such as Tradd Cotter are partly responsible for that, introducing us to the fascinating and somewhat fantastical forms of edible mushrooms out there, a foraging knowledge we used to know but have collectively forgotten. Tradd is helping us remember from his 50,000 square foot lab and mushroom facility in Easley, SC, aptly named Mushroom Mountain. Not only is he training a generation of chefs to recognize safe mushrooms for the table, he’ll tell you he’s only scratching the surface -- pardon the pun -- as to the magical properties of fungi. Tradd is one of the leading researchers in the country, and after I heard him speak last year before GrowFood Carolina’s Mushroom Gathering, I knew I needed to visit the mountain. I came away with more than just mushrooms, I came away with hope for the amazing ways our planet adapts and works, even when we’re not paying attention.

Episode 56 >

Ep. 57: Maneet Chauhan, Chauhan Ale & Masala House

photo : chauhan ale & masala house

photo : chauhan ale & masala house

In case you are wondering, it can be hard to interview a celebrity such as Maneet Chauhan in the middle of a busy food festival. Not only is she a judge on Food Network’s Chopped, and a past chef on Iron Chef America, last Sunday when we spoke she was dressed in a powder blue tunic that sparkled with gold thread under the afternoon sun. So, we stole away for a few minutes to a quiet parking deck and chilled out in my 2005 Kia Sportage. That’s right. Fancy. And that’s how laidback and kind Maneet is, at least until the Iron Chef clock comes out. The mastermind behind Nashville’s Chauhan Ale & Masala House, she is a powerhouse in the kitchen, fusing flavors from her Indian childhood with new influences, including the hot kitchen of Nashville. She’s opening another Music City spot any day now, and I’ll be there to celebrate soon. But we took the time -- despite my wrecked voice -- to dig deep into a curry discussion and went from there.

Episode 57 ›

 

 

Ep. 58: Patrick Emerson, Curated Selections & Communion Wine Club

Photo: curated selections

Photo: curated selections

Are you ready for an all day rosé discussion? This wine varietal has taken the hot and humid South by storm, and just so we you don’t get mixed up thinking it might be that “other pink wine” that comes in a box, I invited Advanced Sommelier Patrick Emerson to talk about it. He’s been a fixture on the Southern bev scene for years, spent a long tenure as beverage director of Slightly North of Broad and its family of restaurants, served as the beverage director for Charleston Wine + Food Festival in 2015, been in Southern Living and Food & Wine, and he’s even won the Bombay Sapphire national cocktail challenge. These days, he’s focusing on his two companies, Curated Selections and Communion Wine Club, and when it comes to Curated Selections, his rosé portfolio is definitely a bright star. All that fancy talk aside, he’ll tell you that wine is just grape juice that’s going bad, and that it’s not meant to be something used to impress others with your knowledge. It’s meant to be enjoyed, so this Friday, Patrick and I go rosé all the way.

Episode 58 >