Rodney Scott, Rodney Scott's BBQ (Charleston, SC)

 Photo: andrew cebulka

Photo: andrew cebulka

There was a time when how good Rodney Scott’s family barbecue was was pretty much a locals secret. Unless you were lucky enough to meet him at a food event or lived in Hemingway, SC, you probably didn’t know about him, that is unless you were the kind of people who roadtrip for good food. So yeah, you and me. Chances are, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’ll drive for good food, right? Anyway, the chorus of praises for this barbecue pitmaster have been steadily rising, and word began to get out in a big way, including on TV with Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern. Then Rodney fulfilled his dream of opening a restaurant of his own last year in Charleston. As for the food, it’s simple perfection, made with love, as he continually preaches. His smile can light up a room, too, and on Monday evening, he proved that when he stood on stage in Chicago to accept the James Beard award for Best Chef: Southeast. A few days before he jetted off to those awards, I caught up with him at his restaurant to learn what he’s learned in the last year. In true Southern Fork style, we ended up recording in the cab of his truck in the parking lot. Anytime he’s in the building, he’s either working or people are literally standing in line to talk to him, so outside is where we found some time and quiet.

Episode 106 >

Micah LeMon, The Alley Light (Charlottesville, VA)

 photo: courtesy of u of VA press

photo: courtesy of u of VA press

I think Micah LeMon, bar manager at the James Beard Award–nominated Alley Light in Charlotttesville, VA, wants us to slow down and take a beat, probably over a lovely, stirred cocktail in a fancy glass. On the day we recorded a few months ago, I was at high-energy, just starting Charleston Wine + Food, and I went and collected Micah from the book signing tent to have a chat. Despite all the people buzzing about (literally and figuratively) and despite the fact I chose a room at the Embassy Suites next to the hotel kitchen -- aka, you’ll hear all kinds of ambient noise in this one, including a vacuum down the hallway -- Micah was cool and calm like he’d just left a yoga retreat. We soon delved deep into a chat about cocktails and balance of flavors, and he proved that he really has a scholar’s encyclopedic knowledge of the ingredients he uses and makes. That is fascinating, sure, and there’s lots to learn from him here, but beyond that, probably the main lesson he can teach us is that following passion -- in his case, the combination of ingredients and spirits -- can create doors where there once were none. Charlottesville is not really seen a cocktail-culture stronghold, and yet, the Alley Light has a fervent and loyal cult following. It you stir it, they will come, eh, Micah?

Episode  107 >

Eddie Hernandez, Taqueria Del Sol (Atlanta, GA)

 photo : angie mosier

photo : angie mosier

Chef Eddie Hernandez and I really thought it was a good idea. We really liked the idea of chatting on a warm spring day on the enclosed, empty patio at the Howell Mill Road location of Taqueria Del Sol in Atlanta. The birds were so peaceful, we said, and it’s quiet out here, we said. But there is nothing quiet in the world of Eddie Hernandez. This energetic man has been going full tilt since the age of 16 when he started a music career, and so, sitting in his world for a mere 30 minutes, we heard traffic, the sound of increasing guests lining up waiting for him to unlock the restaurant doors, restaurant staff discussing mopping, a train, and well, that’s all the stuff I couldn’t cut out, except for the birds. Oh, the damn birds. But … for some of you out there, Eddie’s story might be one of the most important ones you ever hear on The Southern Fork. He’s not just a man who used to play music; he’s a man who believes food, and cooking, saved his life. Around the 10 minute mark we get into some heavy talk about a decision he made to change his life, and how he’s opened a new world because of it. And yes, there’s talk of tortillas and collard greens too. You’re invited to the patio to join us; just take mind of the birds.

Episode 108 ›