Here is your access to some of the South's most interesting culinary stories; they are too good not to share! Listen and join the conversation.
Gregg Allen & Katie Allen Bolner, A Bar N Ranch
Well, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and if you’re like most Americans, you are whining about having anything other than turkey. Well, I got you covered. Here’s the beef (sorry, I just had to say that. Milennials, youtube this Wendy’s reference, ok?) Anyway, it’s a beef-centric episode with A Bar N Ranch from Sherman, TX.. I met Gregg Allen and his daughter, Katie Allen Bolner, at the recent Chefs for Farmers event in Dallas, TX then headed to the ranch, which is storybook, it seems, especially for a woman from the Carolinas. Rolling hills under white overcast skies were dotted with black cattle, each sporting a bright tag in its ear. Dusty gravel roads crisscrossed the land past varied structures, feed trucks, fences, and occasional ponds. This is the home of Texas Wagyu beef, and since I’ve been seeing Wagyu showing up on a lot of menus lately, I wanted to learn -- and taste -- more. The ranchers hosted a delicious beef brunch after a tour of the ranch, and it was one of the best meals of the whole weekend, especially the beef bacon. The next day we reconvened at The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas for a chat and a sip of whiskey.
Matthew Register, Southern Smoke BBQ
When I was just starting this whole podcast thing, one day I received a note from a chef. He told me that he loved the podcast and loved what I was doing and to keep up the good work. That chef was Matthew Register of Southern Smoke BBQ in Garland, NC. It was one of those days that I really needed to hear that someone was listening, and it meant a lot to me since I didn’t know him or how he’d found the show. When we met in person at Lambstock, it soon became obvious that he not only wanted to be a listener, he wanted to be a guest, and although I was flattered, I didn’t know if that would ever happen because I hadn’t had his food and had set a high standard of BBQ coverage interviewing greats such as Sam Jones and Tyson Ho. Little did I know how clueless I was. Over the next year, each time I heard about Matthew or interacted with him, I was more and more impressed. He became one of the most passionate and motivated chefs I’ve met, passionate maybe because he came a little late to the cooking party, but just happy to be among the barbecue family. These days, I know his food speaks for itself, and that his restaurant deserves to be the barbecue destination that it’s becoming in Garland. And although the barbecue is a great example of Eastern NC ‘cue, I just want as much of his collard soup as I can eat, along with a side of Mexican street corn and a scoop of coleslaw. Matthew is a rising star in the great tradition of NC barbecue doing things his own way, and so I’m thrilled to introduce him to you.
Rebecca Masson, Fluff Bake Bar
Tis the season of sugar plum fairies dancing in our heads and baked goods in the oven. Houston, TX has a sugar fairy and her name is Rebecca Masson. In fact, her Instagram handle is sugarfairy, so she owns it. She’s worked at some big name spots, including in Paris and at DB Bistro in New York City, and she’s been on Top Chef, but it was after working at Central Market in Texas, where she learned some hands-on management skills, that she decided to open Fluff Bake Bar in Houston. This is the home of the Fluffernutter, Unicorn Bait, the Couch Potato Cookie, and the Veruca Salt cake. As you know, Houston was hit with a doozy of a hurricane and flooding event this fall, and although Fluff Bake came out unscathed, it then had a flood of its own afterwards when a pipe broke on the floor above it. Rebecca’s still a couple of weeks from re-opening, but she hasn’t stopped baking, or doing pop-ups and festivals, including Chefs for Farmers in Dallas, where I caught up with her at The Adolphus Hotel. My good friend Chris Chamberlain, Nashville writer extraordinaire and past Southern Fork guest (Hey Chris) was at the festival too, so he’s a silent listener on this one, despite the fact that I’m surprised he didn’t chuckle at the “bust a nut” discussion. It’s time to get your sugar rush on, Houston-style.
The Southern Fork Holiday Bites #2: Heirloom Ingredients with Carrie and Jacques Larson of Slow Food
It’s round 2 of the Southern Fork Holiday Bites, and today I wanted to blatantly try to get you to add some heirloom ingredients to your holiday celebrations. I have an agenda. The holidays are about special times together, special recipes, so why not start with a special ingredient or two? Many heirloom ingredients have superior flavor or nutrition but fell off the American menu with the rise of modern food systems, and Slow Food USA and Slow Food International are working to bring awareness to the goodness you might not know about. I sat down a few days ago with Chef Jacques Larson of Wild Olive and the Obstinate Daughter and his wife Carrie of Slow Food Charleston to chat about something called Ark of Taste Week here in Charleston, as well as to get some heirloom ideas for the holidays.
The Southern Fork Holiday Bites #1: Thanksgiving Wines with Patrick Emerson of Curated Selections
Tis the season, so it’s time for a little gift from me. This is the first installment of The Southern Fork Holiday Bites, and fittingly, we start with bites at all, but bubbles, literally, as I join Ep. 58’s Patrick Emerson of Curated Selections to sip champagne and other varietals that would be great for a Thanksgiving table. The key is to think beyond turkey, and we do that, sitting in his warehouse office to sip and discuss everything from wine regions to price to what to serve with that green bean casserole.